Caravaggio is situated at an elevation of 111 m in the district Bergamo of central Lombardy, about 24 km south of the district town Bergamo, 39 km east of Lombardy's capital, Milano, and 52 km west of Brescia. The municipality of Caravaggio, which also includes the villages (frazioni) of Masano and Vidalengo, has a population of about 16,300 (2016).
It is believed that the origins of Caravaggio go back to an ancient Lombard settlement. The earliest written document mentioning Caravaggio (Caravacium) dates from AD 962. In 1186, Emperor Friedrich I (Barbarossa) assigned almost all the Gera d'Adda region to the Communitas mediolanensis (Milan), beginning a long period of successive wars and occupations between the Milanese and Venetians that affected the entire region until the Risorgimento of the 19th century. From 1335 Caravaggio was ruled by the the Visconti dynasty. In 1427/1437 the city was occupied by the Venetian troops commanded by Francesco Sforza, who, after passing to the Ambrosian Republic, reoccupied the town, this time on behalf of the Milanese, in 1448. the entire 16th century again was a period of frequent wars and occupations; in addition, the Plague reduced the population by about a third (about 3,600 people). In 1707/1714, Lombardy was gained by Austria. Almost a century later, in 1796, the Gera d'Adda was occupied by the troops of Napoleon, but returned to Austria in 1797 (Kingdom of Lombardy-Venetia, see map). at the end of the Risorgimento wars, at the end of the 19th century, Caravaggio again had reached a population of about 9,000. In the 20th century, the modernisation of agriculture and the birth of industry opened up new opportunities for development. In 1954, Caravaggio officially obtained the status of a town (città).
Caravaggio is also known to have given the Michelangelo Merisi his famous sobriquet, Caravaggio. Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio was born in 1571 in Milano out of a Caravaggio family. He died in 1610 in Porto Ercole.
The Santuario di Santa Maria del Fonte [left, no. 3276: background] was started in 1575 by the architect Pellegrino Tibaldi. The construction took, with several interruptions, until the first decades of the 18th century. The monumental church (length 93 metres, width 33 metres, height of the dome 64 metres) obtained the status of a Basilica minor in 1906. The church is located on the site of a prior chapel, built in 1432 on the purported site of the appearance of Our Lady (Santa Maria del Fonte or Nostra Signora di Caravaggio) on 26 May of that year.
(see also list of other basilicae minores depicted on glasses of this collection)