When booking flights to Italy you might be puzzled to see references to Caravaggio airport near Milan.
This is because Bergamo airport at Orio al Serio has changed its name to the Caravaggio International Airport Bergamo – Orio al Serio.
ENAC (the Italian civil aviation board) approved the decision by SACBO (the management company of Bergamo airport) to dedicate the airport to the controversial but highly talented painter Michelangelo Merisi.
Bergamo airport is also often referred to as ‘Milan Bergamo’. It is now the fourth busiest airport in Italy and you can fly to it from 29 different countries.
The artist Michelangelo Merisi became known as Caravaggio because he spent the early years of his life living in the small town of Caravaggio just south of Bergamo.
The painter is believed to have been born in Milan in 1571 but his family moved to Caravaggio because of an outbreak of plague.
He returned to train as a painter in Milan but then went on to work in Rome , Naples, Malta and Sicily until his death at Porto Ercole in Tuscany in 1610.
Caravaggio became famous for his paintings for churches and palaces that combine a realistic observation of the physical and emotional state of human beings with a dramatic use of lighting. This was a formative influence for the baroque school of painting.
Despite his artistic success he had a turbulent personal life. He was thrown into jail on several occasions, once vandalised his own apartment and had a death warrant issued for him by the Pope.
Some of his major works, such as The Calling of St Matthew, the Crucifixion of St Peter and Deposition, can be found in churches in Rome , but his work is also well represented in the Uffizi gallery in Florence.
The town of Caravaggio is worth visiting to see the Sanctuary of the Madonna di Caravaggio, which was built in the 16th century on the spot where the Virgin Mary is said to have appeared to a humble peasant woman.
The Sanctuary was later rebuilt and completed in the 18th century and is now a grand building visited by pilgrims from all over the world.