From Bergamo to Venice with the tagiapiera, depentor, pennacchièr e sonador

12 August 2021

Venice, 22nd June 2021 – They left Bergamo to come working in Venice where, for centuries, they practiced their art with great knowledge. The tagiapiera (a stonemason, who could also work as builder, master, or architect) the depentor (an artist or painter), the pennachièr (a merchant specialized in rare birds’ plume, such as the ostrich) and the sonador (a musician and composer) landed in the Venetian lagoon. To these figures is dedicated the project titled: “Tagiapiera, depentor, pennacchièr e sonador. Il Bergamasco e Venezia (1428-1797)”, which is presented by the Department of Science, Letters and Arts of Bergamo on Wednesday 23rd June at 17.30 to celebrate the establishment of Venice 1600 years ago. From October to April next year, there will be 37 conferences (via webinar) of scholars of the department of Bergamo as well as scholars from Italian and foreign universities, in order to value and trace the role that Venice used to have as “Stato de tera” – land state – and the role that the city of Bergamo had for the Serenissima. Moreover, two interactive maps will be created: one representing Venice, where traces of the influence of the city of Bergamo will also be recorded (calli, campi, corti and salizade proving the presence of families coming from the city of Bergamo), while the other one will representthe city of Bergamo and the routes in which the Venetian influence can be witnessed on walls, doors, on the Palazzo del Podestà, Palazzo del Capitano, the fair trade and the lazzareto. 

Tommaso Garzoni in “La Piazza universale di tutte le professioni del mondo et nobili et ignobili” wrote that Bergamo citizens were just porters “simple-minded cowards, although with a kind nature […] born in the mountains, where they are taken from the vat, as birds from a cage, and sent away from the valley to help the world, that eventually uses them as donkeys” rude and vulgar while speaking, they have bad manners, although they are strong, tireless and careful savers”. 

Conferences aim at tracing a different profile of the citizens of Bergamo. The aim is understanding the reasons for which this huge number of migrants came to Venice through the centuries of domination. 

Among migrants, some marked the history of Venice, such as: the architect Mauro Codussi who was born in Lenna, a small town within the province of Bergamo. It was from Lenna that he used to choose the best builders and stonemasons who would have followed him to Venice. Moreover, there was the painter, Jacopo Palma il Vecchio, born in Serina, and the composer Tomaso Albinoni, from Castione della Presolana. 

Historians agreed on claiming that the main cause of migration – whether permanent or temporary- was poverty. Nevertheless, the will of success, the spirit of sacrifice, the ability to seize all opportunities and to adapt – features which characterized the citizens of Bergamo – shape this as a successful migration. 

The Departments’ objective is to tell the stories of the migrants that in Venice established a united, productive, creative, and enterprising - although often envied and feared - community which included different fields,  from culture to business and economy. The focus will be placed on a period that stretches from 1428 until 1797 - the worst year for the Serenissima - when the Revolution of Bergamo began. 


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