Clusone and surroundings

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Clusone (Clusù in the local dialect) is a village of 8,900 inhabitants in the province of Bergamo, in Seriana Valley.

Clusone holds the title of City from 13th October 1801 and is situated at an altitude of 650mt above sea level. It counts about 8,900 inhabitants. The tourist, walking through the streets of its historical centre, is continuously surprised by pleasant discoveries – in addition to the most famous monuments, he will see small mansions decorated with frescoes and portals dating back to the 16th and 17th centuries; houses with 17th century porticoes, facades with decorations dating back to the 15th-18th century, ancient monastery cloisters, typical small squares.

It is an unknown town to be discovered, offering its secrets to those patient enough to look for them.

The frescoes painted over the centuries on the walls, at the corner of the streets, inside mansions and churches, in the niches of small chapels along the high Seriana Valley, are so rich that a whole book wouldn’t be enough to describe them. Once upon a time, the streets of the villages were like a richly painted gallery. The facades of the buildings in the historical centre were extremely rich in colours… it had to be a magnificent show and it is still partly visible today.

A bit of history…

The city has ancient origins probably dating back to the first settlements in 1,300 B.C.

Later, during the Roman Age, there were significant settlements that made it an important centre in the nearby area with the building of a small fortress. The name of the city originated in this period, and it probably came from the Latin word Clausus, meaning a closed places surrounded by mountains.

The following centuries saw the end of the Roman domination with the subsequent arrival of the Lombards, followed by the Franks who created the basis for the foundation of the Sacred Roman Empire, whose rulers dominated the destiny of the country in the Middle Ages.

This fortress significantly developed in the Middle Ages, so much as to look like a proper castle, with defensive walls and towers.

The following domination by the Republic of Venice represented the period of the utmost development, from the artistic, cultural and commercial point of view, producing a high level of wealth. Here lived a “Podestà” who administered the land helped by the “Arengo”, an assembly made by the leaders of local families, and by the Council of the “Congrega”.

Clusone shared its destiny with the “Serenissima” until the Treaty of Campoformio, when it was given to the Cisalpine Republic. After the passage to the domination of the Austrians, who put the city in the Lombard-Venetian Reign, there was the entrance into the Reign of Italy and Clusone became the chief town of the nearby area in the province of Bergamo.


Nature and environment as a lifestyle, in all their territorial integrity, to go beyond trekking as a mere physical activity or Sunday walk, to discover the land and discover yourself. The mountain is no longer to be seen as a peak to reach but as a place where you can find local history, tradition and culture.

To perceive the full potential of the environment and to benefit from the contact with alpine civilization that still has lots to teach us.

Our territory includes extremely interesting peculiarities from the naturalistic point of view, with great natural landscape attractions.

The High Seriana Valley represents a good example of perfect integration among nature, environment, history, art and traditions.

Clusone is situated on a slope, in amazing environment, facing the verdant plateau extending from Mount Cimiero to Pizzo Formico and from Mount Presolana to Ponte Selva.

Rich in history, art and culture, tourist and commercial centre at a good level, Clusone has been considered the chief town of High Seriana Valley since the beginning of the 19th century.

It is surrounded by outstanding natural areas (ideal for any type of mountain hikes) also relevant from a historical point of view – archaeological ruins and toponymy witness the strong heritage left by the Romans. The town was a most ancient market centre, parish church, fortress surrounded by walls, located in a strategic place for communication between the valley, Bergamo and Brescia.

Among the most important monuments the Clock Tower Square (Piazza dell’Orologio) stands out with Fanzago’s Planetary Clock dominating the high tower dating back to 1583. It is a real jewel of 3 metres of diameter; it was built to measure the time, the months, the lunar phases and the zodiac. The “Disciplini’s Oratory” is also remarkable, with its fresco “The Triumph of the Death” and the relative “Macabre Dance” (1485).

Other religious buildings worth a visit are the imposing Santa Maria Assunta’s Cathedral, the Church of Paradiso (15th-17th century), restructured between the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century, and Saint Anna’s Church.


The whole Selva territory has always been interesting for local town councils.

Here are some 20th century quotations worth mentioning:

1920 – Count Filippo Fogaccia, known as the ”Baradello”, Mayor of the City of Clusone, came up with the initiative to include the whole Selva territory into the Catalogue of Italian Natural Beauties.

1964 – The Province of Bergamo, by means of the Committee for the protection of Natural Beauties, during the meetings of 10th April 1964 and 16th February 1966, decides to include the whole area of the Selva, Clusone, in the list of landscape preservation.

1967 – the Ministry of Education and Tourism, with a decree of 20th March 1967, declared the whole area known as “Selva” in the township of Clusone (Bergamo), an area of uttermost public interest (countersigned by Ministers Califfi and Corona).

Research and Writing by Sergio Giudici

Crossing the Selva territory, you can notice the presence of terracing, strange hillocks, erratic blocks and dolines. This is briefly their origin: geologists start from a long time ago.

From over 200 million years ago to tens of millions years ago, on the land there was a shallow, warm sea.
About 50 million years ago, the sea bottom started to rise and severe weather conditions began the erosion process.

Two million years ago, there was a deeper river Serio than today and an extremely deep Borlezza Valley; between the two valleys in the place where nowadays we find the “Selva”, there was a very deep “col”.

The River Serio started to lay its ancient debris that covered the bottom of this col.
During the last 400,000 years, numerous ice ages followed, destroying and burying what was left from previous glaciations of the Camonica Valley.

When the last glacier subsided in different stages, 12,000 years ago, each step left a moraine and that’s the origin of the Selva hillocks. When the ice melted, some erratic blocks were left on the whole area and they’re still visible today.

Large blocks of ice were covered by the moraines, and later, when they melted, they left big holes of elliptical shape, similar to craters, known as dolines.
Going up from Ponte Selva to Clusone, or from the North bank of the River Serio, you can see conglomerates, building the structure of the terracing joining the fluvial area to the Selva moraine with a difference in height of about 50 mt.

It’s a morphological step that was surely much higher at the beginning.
10,000 years ago, the Selva col was finally filled up, because of the subsidence of the last glacier.

Read more in the chapter “The fault of Clusone”

Research and Writing by Sergio Giudici