BGBS2023 project

BGBS2023 project
The origin of the project: culture that revitalises
The Bergamo Brescia Italian Capital of Culture 2023 project came into being as a sign of hope, pride and renewal. A necessary moment of beauty after the dramatic experience of the pandemic. The strong determination of the mayors of the two municipalities, together with all the institutions of their respective areas, embraced by the rest of the country. A high-profile project that serves to indicate possible answers to the great challenges of our time, which Bergamo and Brescia have identified and developed drawing from a shared cultural vitality. Bergamo Brescia Italian Capital of Culture 2023 bears witness to a possible renaissance through the conscious choice of culture as a central element for civil education, creating skills, employment and social and economic resilience.
An unprecedented decision
The nomination of Bergamo and Brescia as Italian Capital of Culture 2023, which took place in July 2020, arose from the Italian Parliament's decision to respond positively to a proposal made by the two cities. A recognition of their history, artistic and cultural heritage and the ability to regenerate, to actively project themselves into a present consisting of construction, work, solidarity and innovation.
For the first time since the title Italian Capital of Culture was established, two cities, united in the determination to ‘Grow Together’, have joined forces to create a single Capital. A unique city that does not limit itself to the simple algebraic sum of its two cultural productions, but promotes an image of a ‘possible and future’ urban space that can unify its extraordinary manufacturing capacity, its traditional work capability and discipline, its entrepreneurial calling, but also networks of solidarity and a cultural heritage of unique relevance with an international scope, exchanging good practices, finding synergies, accelerating processes and sharing knowledge.
Identifying the itineraries: the Dossier
The framework for Bergamo Brescia Italian Capital of Culture 2023 was gradually set up through a process of ‘participatory planning’ which involved, in addition to the Commissions of Culture, the worlds of universities, businesses and handicrafts, health and the third sector, schools and tourism, associations and creative enterprises, as well as food and wine.
This resulted in the ‘Bergamo Brescia Italian Capital of Culture 2023 Dossier: The Enlightened City”, presented in Milan in early 2022. This Dossier originated from the momentous collaboration between the two cities and in particular the Commissions of Culture which have passionately and decisively shared, and with the full support of the mayors of Bergamo and Brescia, the vision of a cultural project that transcends traditional boundaries to integrate the issues of welfare, sustainability, and innovation. The Dossier was produced with the support of the ASK - Art, Science and Knowledge Research Centre of the Bocconi University and backed by the Bergamo Brescia 2023 Committee.
Download the dossier
The project’s thematic areas
The project’s main theme, ‘The Enlightened City’, intentionally singular and not plural, is an initial testimony to the decision that Bergamo and Brescia have made in planning this special year together.
The two cities, the cultural institutions, associations and civil society drew on their common roots, seeing unexpected artistic expressions emerge, mutually validating cultural heritages of extraordinary importance on which to build annual events.
The Italian Capital of Culture is and will be an opportunity to grow together, to demonstrate the value of the tradition of work, of solidarity and industrial innovation in an area of unexpected beauty, all waiting to be discovered.
Work on the Dossier led to the selection of four thematic areas for launching the initiatives and events.
The city of hidden treasures
It is the area itself that emphasises the sense of discovery, of new things and of wonder in the relationship with its cultural heritage. It is therefore the area that aims to enhance not only the historical monuments and archaeological complexes that have given rise to the current layout of the historic centres, but also the itineraries that ‘leave’ the cities behind to form a joint landscaped heritage.
The city of nature
It is the area that leads the way in rethinking and redesigning the relationship of individuals, communities and businesses with natural resources, redesigning the links between settlement patterns, forms of consumption, transport systems, urban production activities and environmental resources in a sustainable manner.
The inventive city
It is the sum of the projects which showcases the businesses and their representative associations, Chambers of Commerce, universities, and technical training institutions, which together with artistic and cultural institutions qualify the area as capable of fostering talent and best practices of innovation to build the future.
Culture as a cure
This is the area most closely connected to the proposal of the project resulting from the dramatic experience of the pandemic. An experience that amplified structural fragilities and brought the issue of care to the centre of debate on national and European levels. Culture has emerged as a tool for prevention and socialisation, which influences people’s well-being through processes of inclusion and acceptance to build community relations.
Beyond 2023
Bergamo Brescia Italian Capital of Culture 2023 is a platform of events and initiatives of extraordinary appeal for tourists, placing the two cities in a leading position on the ‘European cultural’ map.
The project is indeed the first major experiment in cultural policies, on a national scale, aimed at supporting the growth of an area by looking at its economic, industrial and social development. This is a project that goes far beyond the year of the event to create the conditions for a new future for regional communities and Italy.
The two cities are united by a common vision that sustains the Enlightened City concept: culture is an inclusive and empowering tool for revitalising and regenerating communities.A potentiality intended in a broader sense than is usually represented and which provides a clear direction for developing initiatives and policies capable of fostering new ways of thinking and a positive change in the way we live together and collaborate.
Bergamo Brescia Italian Capital of Culture 2023 will be for everyone, Italian and foreign visitors alike, an open construction site dedicated to the bond between cultural policies, artistic practices, social innovations, and technological innovations: it will be activated with projects aimed at generating shared visions, social forces, and collective activation.
The key figures
Laura Castelletti - Mayor of Brescia
Born in Brescia in 1962, she is married to a geriatric doctor and has two daughters, Margherita and Caterina.
A chemical-biological laboratory technician, she worked at the Institute of Pharmacology of the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Brescia until 1992.
Elected as municipal councillor in 1991, she was re-elected in 1998 and became president of the municipal council, a position she held until March 2008. In April 2008, she was elected councillor on the ‘Laura Castelletti Mayor’ list. Active in politics from a very early age, she started up the Associazione Brescia per Passione (Passionate About Brescia Association) with a group of friends. From 2013 to 2018 she was deputy mayor of Brescia in charge of cultural activities, the museum and urban library systems, city tourism promotion and twinning, innovation and smart city strategies, a position with responsibilities that were reconfirmed by Mayor Emilio Del Bono in 2018.
She knows every nook and cranny in Brescia and the entire province, which she has been exploring on foot since she was a young girl with the scouts and, more recently, with her Vespa.
She frequents all of the artistic, cultural and creative spheres of the city with great interest and curiosity, especially those of young and emerging artists. She loves all kinds of music. And she will always be a girl scout.
Giorgio Gori - Mayor of Bergamo
Born in Bergamo in March 1960, he graduated in architecture focusing on urban planning at the Polytechnic University of Milan. He began working early as a journalist at various local newspapers in his city and in 1984 he joined Rete 4 (then Mondadori), then worked for years in the Fininvest/Mediaset television networks and also managed Canale 5 and Italia 1. In 2001, he founded the television production company Magnolia, of which he was CEO until 2011. Elected mayor of Bergamo in 2014 and reconfirmed in 2019, his double mandate, marked in 2020 by the pandemic tragedy, is characterised by a profound transformation of the city through the regeneration of many disused areas, the reduction of land consumption and the expansion of green spaces, the redevelopment of numerous areas and important buildings, and interventions on infrastructures, the road system and suburban neighbourhoods. His administration has also thoroughly modernised services in the spirit of supporting others, in cooperation with the third sector and with the active participation of citizens. The city’s policy of value enhancement is also central, which involved the inclusion of the Venetian Walls in the Unesco World Heritage List (2017), the acknowledgement as Unesco Creative City for Gastronomy (2019), as well as Italian Volunteer Capital in 2022 and the title of Italian Capital of Culture 2023 together with Brescia. In recent years, the city has inaugurated new festivals and events of broad appeal. Finally, great attention was given to cultural institutions and places, with the reopening and redesigning of the Accademia Carrara, the total restoration of the Donizetti Theatre, renovation of the Archaeological Museum and the Museum of Natural Science, and the opening of the new Photography Museum and the 1900s Museum.
In 2021, the Astino Monastery and the surrounding valley were restored, winning the European Landscape Council Award.
Emilio Del Bono - Mayor of Brescia until March 2023
After receiving his degree in law from the University of Milan, he was self-employed and worked as a teacher in occupational safety. Simultaneously, he began to devote himself to politics. In 1996, at the age of 31, he was elected as a legislator from the ranks of the Ulivo party, and was one of the youngest in the 13th Legislature. He remained in Parliament until 2008 holding various posts, including spokesperson of the welfare reform. In 2008, Del Bono returned to Brescia where he won the local government elections in 2013. Already in the first term, the local government was focusing on the themes of the environment and urban regeneration.
In 2018, he ran for a second term and was re-elected in the first round. The second Del Bono administration also concentrated on environmental protection and the regeneration of the city, but this was also accompanied by an emphatic revival of cultural themes. Emilio Del Bono is also vice-president of the national Anci (National Association of Italian Municipalities) with responsibility for local public services.
Nadia Ghisalberti - Bergamo Councillor for Culture
Nadia Ghisalberti was born in Bergamo on 15 February 1958; she is married to Giuseppe Remuzzi and has three children: Wara, Carlos and Livio. She has a degree in Biological Science. She taught biology and chemistry from 1985 to 2000 at Liceo Secco Suardo and Liceo Linguistico Giovanni Falcone high schools. President of the Friends of the Archaeological Museum from 2005 to 2014. President of the Donizetti Foundation from 2014 to 2019. A member of the Board of Directors of the Bergamo in History Foundation since 2014, Ghisalberti was elected to the City Council in the Bruni Lista Civica in 2008, was group leader of Patto Civico from 2012 to 2014, and has been Councillor for Culture in the Gori Council from 2014 to the present.
What is the Italian Capital of Culture?
Established in 2014, one of the objectives of the Italian Capital of Culture initiative is to support, encourage and foster the cities’ autonomous planning and implementation capabilities, so that the value of cultural leverage for social cohesion, integration, creativity, innovation, growth and economic development is increasingly perceived.
The title of Italian Capital of Culture is awarded for one year; the 2022 title was given to Procida, while 2024 will be the year of Pesaro. All information on the Italian Capital of Culture project can be consulted on the dedicated portal.