With a population of around 120,000, it is the fourth largest city in the region. The urban area of Bergamo extends beyond the administrative city limits and has a population of 486,958. The city is the administrative capital of the Province of Bergamo, one of the largest in Italy, with over 1.1 million inhabitants, which is part of Milan metropolitan area, home to over 8 million people. The city and its province are served by the Orio al Serio Airport, which also serves the metropolitan area of Milan.
As of 2012, Bergamo is the second most visited city in Lombardy after Milan.
Bergamo occupies the site of the ancient town of Bergomum, founded as a settlement of the Celtic tribe of Cenomani. In 49 BC it became a Roman municipality, containing c. 10,000 inhabitants at its peak. An important hub on the military road between Friuli and Raetia, it was destroyed by Attila in the 5th century.
From the 6th century Bergamo was the seat of one of the most important Lombard duchies of northern Italy, together with Brescia, Trento, and Cividale del Friuli: its first Lombard duke was Wallaris. After the conquest of the Lombard Kingdom by Charlemagne, it became the seat of a county under one Auteramus (d. 816). An important Lombardic hoard dating from the 6th to 7th centuries AD was found in the vicinity of the city in the nineteenth century and is now in the British Museum.</blockquote>
From the 11th century onwards, Bergamo was an independent commune, taking part in the Lombard League which defeated Frederick I Barbarossa in 1165. The local Guelph and Ghibelline factions were the Colleoni and Suardi, respectively. Feuding between the two initially caused the family of Omodeo Tasso to flee north , but he returned to Bergamo in the later 13th century to organize the city's couriers: this would eventually lead to the Imperial Thurn und Taxis dynasty generally credited with organizing the first modern postal service. From 1264, Bergamo was intermittently under the rule of Milan. In 1331, it gave itself to John of Bohemia, but the Milanese Visconti reconquered it.
Renaissance and modern era
After a short conquest by the Malatesta in 1407, in 1428 it fell under the control of the Venetian Republic, remaining part of it until 1797. Between 1797 and 1815, Bergamo and its territory were included in the political entities born in North Italy during the French and Napoleonic dominion. Notably, the Venetians fortified the higher portion of the town (see Main sights section).
19th and 20th century
In 1815, it was assigned to the Austrian Empire. Giuseppe Garibaldi freed it in 1859 during the Second Italian War of Independence, when Bergamo became part of the Kingdom of Italy. For its contribution to "Il Risorgimento" the city is also known as "Città dei Mille" ("City of the Thousand"). During the 20th century Bergamo became one of Italy's most industrialized cities. It is also one of the few Italian cities that did not suffer major destruction during World War II.