Celadina is a nondescript neighbourhood on the outskirts of Bergamo. At one of its many busy crossroads, surrounded by modern buildings and shopping centres is an old gate, and there are no other buildings or ruins of that era anywhere near it. It just sits there, like a fragment of anachronistic architecture with neither rhyme nor reason. This is the Devil’s Portal, or as it is called here, il Portone del Diavolo.
Legend has it that in the 1500s, the prominent family de’ Tassi owned a large country estate on this site. One day, a renowned architect by the name of de Sanga proposed to build a gate to their stately property. He showed his design of the gate to the de’ Tassi family, who rejected it outright on the basis that the design was old-fashioned and the construction would have taken too long. Enraged by the rejection, de Sanga countered that “not even the devil would be able to build it!” Against all odds, the next day, the portal was standing, and a strong odour of sulphur lingered in the air.
Apparently, the feat astounded the onlookers, but not the de’ Tassi family, who criticised the quality of the construction. Somewhat shaken by the criticism, the devil decided to send a storm. Under heavy rain and lightning bolts, the structure collapsed. Within a few hours, the devil rebuilt a sturdier, more stylish portal. This time, the de’ Tassi family was impressed and praised the construction. Ever since that day, the arrival of a storm in the area is preceded by a strong smell of sulphur.
A slightly less fantastic explanation is that de Sanga had the portal built overnight—twice.
A few centuries down the road, the stately property is long gone. In its place, busy roads crisscross between unremarkable apartment blocks. Yet, fiendishly defiant, the Portone del Diavolo still stands.