This is a very special year for Brescia, situated in the Lombardy region. It’s the Italian Capital of Culture, offering the best version of itself, together with Bergamo, which we talked about in the previous article.
Let’s discover this new city, shall we!?
At a convenient distance from Milan and a stone’s throw away from the Garda and Iseo lakes, Brescia is one of the ideal travel destinations for a one-day trip.
Far from being the stereotypical grey capital of the iron industry, Brescia is a multifaceted city, with a cultural and artistic heritage of all respect.
Visiting the historical center means going back in time. Architectures of great visual impact, such as the Old and the New Duomo, the Broletto, Palazzo della Loggia and other wonderful corners allow you to appreciate various historical eras, from the Roman Brixia to the Lombard; from the Romanesque to the Renaissance period; from the Baroque to the Venetian domination.
A few steps in Piazza della Loggia, one of the focal points of the historical center, will allow you to get closer to the core of the city and its inhabitants.
The square feels like a Venetian living room, which bears the signature of two symbols of the ‘500, the architects Sansovino and Palladio. On one side, the square is bordered by the beautiful Loggia Palace, covered in white marble. This is where the town hall is located and it hosts important works of art.
On the opposite side, the beautiful porticoes and the Clock Tower stand out. With the astronomical dial, the tower has the power to make everyone stare at the two wooden and bronze automatons. Since 1581, these have been connected to the clock mechanism and have marked the hours by hitting a large metal bell with a hammer.
On the square there are also trendy shops, restaurants and bars that are crowded especially at the time of the local aperitif called Pirlo. This is made with still white wine and Campari and it is usually served with some tasty appetizers.
At the historical Osteria al Bianchi, in Via Gasparo da Salò, the aperitif is consumed with fried cod on Saturdays and with meatballs on Sundays. Lovers of richer dishes can instead draw on the traditional gastronomic repertoire, with butter and sage casoncelli, malfatti, risotto alla pitocca, or the timeless oil beef.
Brescia is a truly amazing city! It is not common to find an historical center with two cathedrals – one next to each other – both very different in style, but equally beautiful.
This happens in Piazza Paolo VI. The thousand-year-old Duomo, whose Romanesque drum is one of the few remaining in Italy, competes with the sumptuous late Baroque façade of the New Duomo. Such sight makes a frame of great effect.
Another unique aspect of Brescia is the rich archaeological-monumental area of the Capitolium. This monastic complex of San Salvatore and Santa Giulia has been declared Unesco World Heritage Site.
Used as a museum, the grand complex of San Salvatore-Santa Giulia tells more than three thousand years of history of the city along its path full of churches and monastic cloisters. Narrating such a history are strong pieces such as the Cross of Desire (late eighth century A.D.), the bronze statue of The Winged Victory (Hellenistic period) and the Choir of the Nuns of Santa Giulia with its spectacular sixteenth-century frescoes.
For motorcycle enthusiasts, Brescia offers a place that is love at first sight: the Mille Miglia Museum. This was set up in the monastic complex of Santa Eufemia and inaugurated in 2004 thanks to the commitment and passion of some individuals and the Automobile Club of Brescia.
The museum hosts preserved vintage cars, movies, photographs, newspaper articles and countless relics of what Enzo Ferrari called “a traveling museum that is unique in the world” on the Brescia-Rome round trip. Starring 450 vintage cars from 41 different countries, the Mille Miglia Museum is a must visit especially in May.
Our last suggestion is to leave the historical center to climb up to Colle Cidneo, at 245 meters above sea level. Here you can visit the Castle, one of the best preserved medieval fortresses of northern Italy, with its 75 thousand square meters of towers, walkways and warehouses enclosed by powerful walls.
From here, in 1849, the Austrians bombed the city and the Brescians valiantly resisted. In memory of those tragic events, in the so-called Great Mile, the Museum of the Risorgimento was set up.
In Mastio Visconteo, there is The Weapons Museum with a rich collection of armors, weapons, firearms and high quality artifacts.
The most beautiful sight, however, can be enjoyed from outside the museum. From the external walls, the gaze sweeps freely over the city and its surroundings.
BergamoBrescia2023 with all the events of the Year of Culture
Related article: Bergamo, the Italian Capital of Culture
Ph. Credits: Alberto Campanile