The house where Gaetano Donizetti was born, discovered thanks to research carried out by Ciro Caversazzi and published in 1924, is a five-storey building dating back to medieval times. The slope of the hill on which Borgo Canale stands means that only four floors can be seen from the street that crosses it, while there are five floors above ground from the road downhill (today’s Via degli Orti). The Donizetti family lived in the basement, which started out as an open portico but was later enclosed and divided into living quarters and service areas for the entire building: a hallway, with a woodshed, well and icehouse on one side, and on the other, towards the valley, a two-room flat.
Purchased by the Municipality of Bergamo in 1925 thanks to a public subscription promoted the year before, in 1926 the building was declared a National Monument as it was «of historical interest». Uninhabited from 1929 to the mid-1930s, the building became a home again until the mid-1960s. To mark the first centenary of Donizetti’s death (1948), and then in 1973, the basement was restored and opened to the public. In 2007, the Municipality of Bergamo began renovation work on the entire building, which led to its full opening in 2009. Its refurbishment was entrusted to the Fondazione Donizetti (Donizetti Foundation).