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Ice cold in Bergamo


The scenic Italian city hosts it’s seventh landscape festival

With its red roofs and cobblestones streets, the medieval heart of Bergamo might look like just another Italian city on the tourist trail: 16th-century city walls built by the Venetians encircle the old town; palazzos and basilicas sprout bell towers, domes and spires. But visit in September and you’ll discover something else among the more obvious architectural delights of one of Italy’s less well-known treasures: an urban landscape festival.

This year marks the seventh Maestri del Paesaggio, a two-week celebration of landscape design, art, architecture and ecology. Taking its cue from Bergamo’s position, the festival puts landscape at the heart of the city. It certainly has the right location: Bergamo sits at the entrance to the Italian lakes, with the Alps providing a spectacular wild backdrop to the north, while in the other direction, across the Po valley, the urban hotspot of Milan is just 26 miles away.

At the heart of Bergamo’s cobblestone streets you will find the Piazza Vecchio, where the stone-winged lion on a plinth reminds you of the city’s Venetian rulers who held sway here for 350 years. But from 7 September into this picture postcard scene the Dutch landscape artist Lodewijk Baljon will be dropping his latest creation: an installation made of hops, barley, clouds of balloons and a giant block of melting ice. This is Balion’s interpretation of the Maestri’s brief to celebrate ‘cool landscape’.

As Balion’s block of ice slowly melts (expect daytime temperatures in the mid-20s in mid September), visitors can explore the rest of the offerings on show in what the organisers describe as a ‘laboratory of landscape’: more than 40 speakers from across Italy and beyond will host nearly 50 events from talks to workshops, installations to seminars, with unprecedented access to some spectacular – and beautiful – private gardens.

I Maestri del Paesaggio runs from 7-24 September. For more information visit