The city does not speak of its past, it holds it close like the lines on a hand, written in street corners, on window grills, on banister rails, on lightening protection masts, on flag poles, each striped segment in its turn bearing its own scratches, serrations, carvings, comma shaped markings (Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities)
There isn’t a single photograph or piece of film footage which alone can describe a town like Bergamo; a town which has emerged unscathed by the expanses of cement and ugly outskirts constructed in so many other towns during the Sixties. A town which has retained both the magic of a medieval and renaissance town intact whilst enjoying the vitality of the new town centre built in between the two world wars.
Bergamo is a city to savour whilst strolling along its main street or through the little streets in the lower town or the upper town; and it is with this in mind that we put together “La città visibile” (“The town on show”): photographs, period film footage, “surprising” objects, virtual reality, interviews and a photo-lab invite the visitor to take a walk through the exhibition, sit in its cinema or at the little tables which recreate the atmosphere of the Fifties and Sixties. It is not merely a photographic show, but an exhibition which seeks “to bring to life” places, faces, the varied facets at the heart and soul of a town which underwent its greatest changes between 1870 and 1960.
The main source this exhibition has drawn on is the Sestini photo archive, housed in our Museum: a gem which owes its existence to Domenico Lucchetti’s gift for assembling together, over decades, the photographic and cine footage necessary to build up a civic photographic archive, with photographs from around the world, and the sensitivity of the Sestini family, who, with an international dimension sought to give their very own town the possibility to reflect on its own past – even its more recent past, since, as the chairman, Roberto Sestini says: “Is it not true that without knowing the past it is impossible to build the future?