Pontida and the San Martino valley
Pontida is a small town with thirty thousand inhabitants in the province of Bergamo, not far from the city of the same name. It stands in the narrowest part of the San Martino valley, which is administratively divided between the provinces of Lecco and Bergamo. The valley extends from the north, on the left bank of the river Adda, which rises from the eastern branch of Lake Como. The valley then divides the area between Mount Albenza and Mount Canto, and opens out into the large plain of Almenno after having crossed Pontida.
The town’s history is linked firstly with the Basilica of St. James, founded by Alberto da Prezzate between 1076 and 1079 and built in the Gothic-Lombard style towards the end of the 13th century. It has many works of great value (belonging to different periods in history), the adjoining abbatial museum and the chapter room. In addition, it was in Pontida on 7th April 1167 that the communes took their historical oath, forming the Lombard League to fight against the Holy Roman Emperor, Frederick Barbarossa. In view of its historical importance, Pontida can boast of its title as “City of the oath” and, since 1990, the annual meetings of the political movement of the Northern League, under the leadership of Umberto Bossi, have been held in a meadow not far from the Abbey.