Travel Guide of Brescia, Lombardy, Italy

Brescia is a city in the region of Lombardy, Northern Italy. It is situated at the foot of the Alps, a few kilometers from the lakes Garda and Iseo. Brescia, also know as the city of art of the Mille Miglia. Visit the largest Roman archaeological area in Northern Italy and discover the monumental remains of the Lombards, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Founded over 3,200 years ago, Brescia has been an important regional centre since pre-Roman times. Its old town contains the best-preserved Roman public buildings in northern Italy and numerous monuments, among these the medieval castle, the Old and New cathedral, the Renaissance Piazza della Loggia and the rationalist Piazza della Vittoria. The monumental archaeological area of the Roman forum and the monastic complex of San Salvatore-Santa Giulia have become a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Brescia active in the manufacturing, engineering, textile, chemical and food industries, it is one of the main economic-productive centers of Italy and is known for the famous Mille Miglia vintage car race. Brescia is the home of Italian caviar, and is known for being the original production area of the Franciacorta sparkling wine. In 2017 Brescia and its province, together with those of Bergamo, Mantua and Cremona, were awarded as the European Region of Gastronomy under the name of Eastern Lombardy.

Besides the historic center, the Province of Brescia also offers an extraordinary variety of landscapes. Every area has a rich, unique history. Brescia’s three lakes have their own individual character: Mediterranean Lake Garda, Nordic Lake Idro, and romantic Lake Iseo. Not-to-be-missed stops are the city of Brescia and its incredible historic and artistic heritage, Franciacorta characterized by gentle rolling hills covered by vineyards, and the wide plain south of the city with its timeless atmosphere.

Trails overlooking lakes and criss-crossing mountains; kilometres of bike trails and paths surrounded by nature; UNESCO World Heritage and archaeological sites; local food&wine experiences. Into the green forests and mountains of Camonica Valley, Trompia Valley, and Sabbia Valley.

The origins of Brescia certainly date back to at least the fourth century BC. Various myths relate to the founding of Brescia: one assigns it to Hercules while another attributes its foundation as Altilia (“the other Ilium”) by a fugitive from the siege of Troy. This myth seems to have a grain of truth, because recent archaeological excavations have unearthed remains of a settlement dating back to 1,200 BC that scholars presume to have been built and inhabited by Ligures peoples.

At the turn of the third and second centuries BC, Brixia began the process of annexation to the Roman Republic, culminating in 41 BC when the inhabitants obtained Roman citizenship. Augustus founded a civil (not military) colony there in 27 BC, and he and Tiberius constructed an aqueduct to supply it. Roman Brixia had at least three temples, an aqueduct, a theatre, a forum with another temple built under Vespasianus, and some baths.

As evidence of Roman Brixia, the most important complex of public buildings from the Roman era in all of northern Italy remains today, with the Capitoline Temple, the forum and the Roman theater.

From 402 to 493 it suffered numerous barbarian invasions. From 568 it became an important Lombard center (seat of one of the main duchies), of which ample evidence remains inside the Monastery of Santa Giulia. In 774, Charlemagne captured the city and ended the existence of the Lombard kingdom in northern Italy.

From 855 to 875, under Louis II the Younger, Brescia become de facto capital of the Holy Roman Empire. Later the power of the bishop as imperial representative was gradually opposed by the local citizens and nobles, Brescia becoming a free commune around the early 12th century, it fell under the Visconti domination and then, in November 24, 1426, to the mainland domains of the Republic of Venice and remain until 1797. And finally, arriving at the annexation to the Kingdom of Italy in 1860.

Brescia has had a major role in the history of the violin. Many archive documents very clearly testify that from 1490 to 1640 Brescia was the cradle of a magnificent school of string players and makers, all styled “maestro”, of all the different kinds of stringed instruments of the Renaissance: viola da gamba (viols), violone, lyra, lyrone, violetta and viola da brazzo.

The city was given the nickname “Lioness of Italy” by Aleardo Aleardi, in his Canti Patrii. The fortune of the expression, however, is due to Giosuè Carducci, who wished to pay homage to Brescia for the valiant resistance against the Austrian occupiers during the insurrection of the Ten Days, in the ode to Victory. Among the ruins of the temple of Vespasiano in Brescia, contained in the Barbarian Odes.

Main Attractions
The tourism sector is becoming increasingly important for the city economy. Brescia has in fact increased its tourist attractiveness in recent years, thanks to its recent inclusion in the list of World Heritage Sites and its proximity to the lakes of Garda and Iseo, which are no more than 30 km away. The significant historical and artistic heritage of Brescia (since 2011 in the UNESCO World Heritage list) and the natural beauties of its surrounding area (like the Lake Garda, the Val Camonica and the Lake Iseo) have allowed the city to attract an increasing number of visitors.

With the efficiency of a modern city, Brescia associates the attractiveness of a city of art and history, and offers the visitor the pleasure and charm of walking in an urban environment that reveals its historical face, enhanced by a careful series of operations of redevelopment of the environment, from the pedestrianization and furnishing program of green and collective spaces, and also from the interventions carried out in the quiet residential areas surrounding one of the largest Italian museum complexes: Santa Giulia-Museo della Città, which opened to the public in 1999 its approximately 12,000 square meters of exhibition area.

Among the main attractions of Brescia there was: the museum of Santa Giulia and the exhibitions and initiatives it proposes, the archaeological area of the Roman forum with the Capitolium and the castle of Brescia, as well as the renovated Tosio Martinengo art gallery. Other points of artistic and cultural interest in the city are the four main squares of Brescia – Piazza Paolo VI from the Middle Ages, with the old cathedral and the new cathedral, the Renaissance Piazza della Loggia,

The Piazza del Mercato and the rationalist Piazza della Vittoria, surmounted by the INA Tower, considered the first skyscraper in Europe built in reinforced concrete – connected by arcades, covered galleries and pedestrian walkways. During the year there are various events organized by the various associations present in the area (such as, for example, the Mille Miglia), which attract visitors from outside the city.

On a historical-artistic level Brescia concentrates its attractions in the city center. Being a medium-sized city, it is easy to walk around the center covering it in its entirety without having to resort to public transport.

Additionally, Brescia is close to important tourist destinations (Milan can be directly reached in 45 minutes by train, Venice and Florence in about 2 hours) and is one of the cheapest cities in Italy in terms of hotel stays. For these reasons, tourists often use Brescia as a base to explore the surrounding places.

UNESCO World Heritage
San Salvatore – Santa Giulia and the monumental archaeological area registered in the UNESCO World Heritage list. The serial site “The Lombards in Italy. The places of power (568-774 AD) “which, in addition to Brescia, also includes Cividale del Friuli, Torba-Castelseprio, Campello sul Clitunno, Spoleto, Benevento and Monte Sant’Angelo, includes the most important Lombard monuments existing in the area Italian, scattered from the north to the south of the peninsula, where the dominions of the most important Lombard duchies extended.

The assets included in the site, the result of a rigorous and careful selection, are, each for its own specific type, the most significant or better preserved model among the numerous testimonies spread throughout the national territory and, as a whole, reflect the universality of the culture. Lombard at the moment of its peak.

They therefore represent the quintessence of the artistic and architectural heritage of the Langobardorum gens which, as is well known, expressed themselves in monumental forms only after their settlement in Italy, following a long period of migration that from Scandinavia saw them cross the northern countries and eastern European.

The monumental complex of San Salvatore – Santa Giulia di Brescia is an extraordinary architectural palimpsest that incorporates the female monastery built by the Duke of Brescia Desiderio, with his wife Ansa, in 753, before becoming king. The church of San Salvatore is one of the most important examples of early medieval religious architecture preserved in elevation.

The monastery, which had facilities for welcoming pilgrims and housing the poor, played a fundamental role in the society of the time, both as a religious reference and from a political and economic point of view.

Its importance did not diminish after the fall of the Lombards: the wealth of its equipment and its high prestige led over the centuries to new important architectural interventions, which expanded the complex desired up to the current structure which includes, in addition to three cloisters of different period, the Romanesque church of Santa Maria in Solario, the fifteenth-century choir and the sixteenth-century church of Santa Giulia.

Currently the entire complex, the result of a splendid restoration and enhancement intervention, is home to the City Museum, which houses the highest artistic testimonies of the long history of Brescia and its territory.Capitoline Temple

In the nearby archaeological area of the Capitolium the oldest and most significant buildings of the Roman city are still visible: a sequence of sanctuaries from the Republican age (II-I century BC), the Capitolium (73 AD), the theater (I- III century AD), the section of the paving of the maximum decumanus.

Traces of the Lombard presence can also be read on the remains of the Roman age, consisting mainly of productive structures and burials. In this well-circumscribed area of the city we can therefore read an uninterrupted stratigraphy of testimonies extending from the 2nd century BC to the 19th century, particularly rich and articulated. In 1830 the Capitolium also housed the Museo Patrio, the first city museum to inaugurate the museum vocation of this area.

Religious architectures
Brescia preserves in the historical center several dozen churches belonging to every historical and artistic period, from Lombard testimonies to works of the more extreme eighteenth century, up to the products of nineteenth-century eclecticism. The Duomo Vecchio, the city’s winter cathedral, is one of the most important examples of Romanesque rotunda in Italy, built in the 11th century and a precious container for various works of art, such as paintings by Moretto and Romanino, a sepulcher by Bonino da Campione, the crypt of San Filastrio, dating back toVIII century and the great sepulchral ark of Berardo Maggi, dating back to the beginning of the fourteenth century. Another example of Romanesque architecture is the small church of San Faustino in Riposo, with its characteristic cone shape.

Important testimonies of Gothic architecture are instead the church of San Francesco d’Assisi, with its characteristic gabled façade in rough stone with a large rose window, the church of Santa Maria del Carmine, built in the fifteenth century with many later additions, and the church of the Santissimo Body of Christ, defined as the Sistine Chapel of Brescia for the rich cycle of Renaissance frescoes that adorn its interior. The church of Santa Maria dei Miracoli is instead the great masterpiece of Brescia Renaissance sculpture, with the facade by Giovanni Antonio Amadeocompletely worked at the end of bas-relief flanked by the sculptures of Tamagnino. Of considerable interest, from the same historical period, is the church of San Giuseppe, the musical pantheon in Brescia with the tombs of the greatest personalities in the field, containing one of the largest ancient organs pipe in the world, the work of the Antegnati.

The greatest exponents of the city baroque are the church of Saints Faustino and Giovita (built by the architect Stefano Carra) where the two patrons of Brescia are buried, the new Duomo, the summer cathedral, built to replace the ancient Basilica of San Pietro de Dom, and the church of Santa Maria della Carità, with its characteristic octagonal plan and the reproduction of the Holy House of Nazareth placed behind the main altar.

The patronal church, in particular, preserves the large fresco of the Apotheosis of Saints Faustino, Giovita, Benedetto and Scolastica by Giandomenico Tiepolo, plus other sculptural and pictorial works of art. Of particular artistic importance is also the church of San Giovanni Evangelista with the Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament, half decorated by paintings by Moretto and half by those by Romanino. Another Baroque monument, which absolutely stands out for its formal and architectural unity as it was built from scratch, is the church of Santa Maria della Pace, designed by the Venetian architect Giorgio Massari with paintings by Pompeo Batoni.

An example of neoclassical architecture is the collegiate church of Saints Nazaro and Celso, which houses the precious Averoldi Polyptych by Titian. Finally, outside the church buildings there is the Monumental Cemetery of Brescia, designed by Rodolfo Vantini and built several times during the nineteenth century. Also by Vantini is the Bonomini tomb, popularly called ” the dog’s tomb “, designed on commission of the merchant Angelo Bonomini, which emerges with its neo-Gothic profile on the slope of Mount Maddalena.

The Brescia cemetery, called Vantiniano (from the name of its designer, the architect Rodolfo Vantini), is the first monumental cemetery built in Italy, in the center of which stands the Lighthouse of Brescia (60 meters high, covered with Botticino marble) whose shape was inspired by the German architect Heinrich Strack to design the Victory Column, one of the symbols of the city of Berlin. In 1866 the remains of the well-known Brescia painter Francesco Filippini were transferred, by the will of the citizens of Brescia, from the Monumental Cemetery of Milan to the Vantinian Cemetery.

Civil architectures
Among the works of civil architecture in Brescia, Piazza della Loggia stands out, the most homogeneous architectural complex in the city and an important example of a closed Renaissance square. The main building that forms the monumental background to the square is Palazzo della Loggia, known more simply as “the Loggia”, seat of the municipal council, built starting from 1492 under the direction of Filippo Grassi and finally completed in the sixteenth century under the supervision of the Sansovino and Palladio.

Furthermore, in the eighteenth century, what is called “Salone Vanvitelliano” was built by the architect Luigi Vanvitelli. On the south side of the square are instead aligned the two Monti di Pietà, the first – also called ” old ” – from the fifteenth century and the second – the ” new ” – built at the end of the sixteenth century, whose facades represent the first lapidary museumItalian (in fact, a decree of the Special Council of the city of Brescia of 1480, stipulated that the Roman tombstones found in the area where these two buildings would have risen should be kept for public use: they were therefore walled up along the walls of these buildings and used as an ornament), while in the center of the east side stands the great astronomical clock of 1540.

The oldest center of power is the Broletto, the ancient town hall located in Piazza del Duomo. The original core of the building dates back to the thirteenth century, later expanded several times in the fourteenth century (west wing on the square), in the fifteenth century (east and north wings with reconstruction of the west wing) and in the seventeenth century (internal transverse portico). The building is completed by the Torre del Popolo or “Pégol”, a 12th century civic tower.

In the context of private civil architecture there are numerous palaces arranged along all the streets of the historic center, in particular those that belonged to the powerful Martinengo family, including Palazzo Martinengo and Palazzo Maggi Gambara in Piazza del Foro, Palazzo Martinengo Colleoni in Malpaga in Sant’Alessandro square, Uggeri palace along via Musei and Cigola Fenaroli palace in via Carlo Cattaneo. Or again, Palazzo Martinengo Colleoni di Pianezza in Corso Matteotti and Palazzo Martinengo di Villaganain progress Martyrs of Liberty.

Worthy of mention are also Palazzo Martinengo di Padernello Salvadego, considered to be the most impressive stately home in the city, Palazzo Martinengo della Motella and Palazzo Martinengo delle Palle. Another important civil building is the Teatro Grande, founded in 1664 and rebuilt several times, in particular in the eighteenth century and throughout the nineteenth century. The theater is known for hosting the important “Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli” International Piano Festival.

More recent are the railway station, built in neo – Romanesque style in 1854, and Piazza della Vittoria, built in 1932 on a project by the architect Marcello Piacentini, demolishing part of the ancient medieval historic center.

Military architectures
The castle of Brescia ranks first among the ancient military architectures of Brescia that have come down to us: built in the thirteenth century by the Visconti on a previous site, on the top of the Cidneo hill, it was enlarged for the first time in the fifteenth century and then completed in the sixteenth century. All strategic functions ceased in the mid-nineteenth century, the castle is a huge public park that offers interesting walks among the ancient defense structures and a wide view over the entire city. The interior of the fortress houses two museums.

In the city, the Pallata tower at the east end of Corso Garibaldi, built in the thirteenth century and remodeled in the fifteenth century. At its feet is a large Baroque fountain, the work of Pietro Maria Bagnadore.

There are also remains of city gates of the ancient medieval walls, such as Porta Bruciata or Porta Paganora , as well as the only remnant of the three kilometers of defensive walls from the Roman era, Porta Sant’Eusebio: dating back in the 1st century AD, its remains can be admired along the slopes of the Cidneo hill, near the church of San Pietro in Oliveto.

Archaeological sites
As already mentioned, Piazza del Foro di Brescia is the most important complex of remains of public buildings from the Roman period in all of northern Italy, with the imposing ruins of the Capitolium and the adjacent Roman theater. We have also received numerous remains of the perimeter colonnade of the ancient Roman square, visible outdoors in the same square and in the basement of the nearby Martinengo Cesaresco Novarino palace (where there are also the remains of the ancient Roman baths and the primitive residential settlement, dating back to early Iron Age, from which today’s city developed), while in Piazzetta Labus, even further south, the remains of the civil basilica emerge, whose architectural elements of the Flavian age are still clearly visible in the facades of the ancient houses built on the ruins themselves.

Historic center itinerary
This itinerary explore the city of art of the Mille Miglia, visit the largest Roman archaeological area in Northern Italy and discover the monumental remains of the Lombards. Palazzos, castles, museums, and more. Galleries of art, archeological parks, theaters, and villas: pieces that make up the puzzle in a sophisticated cultural landscape.

In Piazza Paolo VI
It is one of the three main squares of the city, more often called Piazza del Duomo by the people of Brescia, due to the presence of the two city domes, the old and the new. The origin of the square is medieval, as well as some buildings that overlook it, above all the Broletto, which today also includes the Torre del Pegol (the civic tower) and the Loggia delle grida.

Palazzo Broletto
The medieval seat of the ruling lords over the city, today the seat of the provincial administration, is located between Via Mazzini and Piazza Paolo VI. The origin of the name derives from the fact that the land on which the palace is now built was originally a vegetable garden, called “brolo”, hence the wording “Broletto”.

House of the Camerlenghi
Opposite the Duomo Nuovo, therefore on the western side of the square, is the Casa dei Camerlenghi, so called because it was the seat of the camerlenghi, financial administrators during the Venetian domination, which has particular fifteenth-century three-light windows. Over the centuries, especially after the fall of the republic in 1797, the building loses its original function and is converted into a private residence, distorting its original architecture. The private residential use of the building still remains today. Very important from a historical point of view is also the portico at the base, dating back to the 12th century: formed by five round arches on mighty cylindrical pillars with squared capitals, it rests on a lower level than the current street level, a sign of its antiquity.

Church of Sant’Agostino
The Church of Sant’Agostino is located in the alley of the same name that serves as an access to the square in the north-east corner, adjacent to the Broletto facade. Of medieval foundation, it was rebuilt in the Gothic era and in the following centuries it underwent numerous hardships, including the annexation to the same Broletto in order to use the premises as offices, an annexation which also saw the insertion of a mezzanine floor that divided the space in two. indoor. After decades of neglect, it was recovered in 2001 together with the annexed rooms, restoring everything and creating a conference room inside. What remains of the church is the beautiful terracotta façade, numerous 15th century frescoes on the upper floor and two Gothic arches with relative pillars in the adjoining room to the south.

New cathedral
The new Cathedral, officially the summer Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta, is the main church of Brescia. It was built between 1604 and 1825 on the area where the early Christian basilica of San Pietro de Dom stood (V-VI century). not being the result of a secular building but the result of a single, albeit very long, construction site, it presents an overall homogeneous and coherent structure, in architecture and decorations. The only element that betrays the long life of the factory, which lasted about 230 years, is the subtle combination that is felt inside, but above all on the facade, between Baroque taste and neoclassical style, the result of which is a kind of tempered classical Baroque, practically a building that started in baroque and finished in neoclassical style.

Old Cathedral or Rotonda
5 Old Cathedral.the old Cathedral, also called Rotonda for its geometric shape, officially the Winter Co-Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta, is the co-cathedral of Brescia, a title it shares with the adjacent new Cathedral. Built starting from the 11th century on top of a previous basilica, it has undergone more than one enlargement over the centuries but has kept the original Romanesque structure intact, making it one of the most important examples of Romanesque rotundas in Italy. The cathedral also contains numerous and important works, among which a tomb by Bonino da Campione, the organ by Giangiacomo Antegnati, the marble sarcophagus by Berardo Maggi and the cycle of paintings by Moretto and Romanino made for the chapel of the Blessed Sacrament stand out. of the Basilica of San Pietro de Dom and moved here after its demolition.

Torre del Pegol
The Torre del Pegol or Torre del Popolo is a stone building about 54 meters high, annexed to the Broletto palace. The exact date and origin of this medieval construction is not known, but some traces are found in some manuscripts of the twelfth century, in which the particular resistance of the building that withstood a violent earthquake in 1159 which caused about 20,000 dead. It was used by the Austrians as a stronghold during the ten days of Brescia. After some modern renovations, the tower was once again open to the public in 2007. There is no longer any trace of the ancient clock.

In Piazza della Loggia
Piazza Loggia is one of the three main squares of Brescia, its shape is square, bordered by a series of buildings from the Venetian era, among which the Loggia, seat of the municipal council of Brescia, stands out. The square immediately became the beating heart of the city both for its position and for the presence of the Loggia which was also completed in 1574, under the direction of Filippino de ‘Grassi, which will become the seat of the city’s administrative life over the years.

Casa Vender
Casa Vender is a palace located south of the Palazzo della Loggia. The building most likely dates back to the 15th century and for centuries remained the property of the Vender family, rich Brescian merchants of fabrics and wools. It is one of the very few buildings in the historic city center to preserve intact the typical elements of the fifteenth-century private architecture of Brescia. It is spread over three floors plus the ground floor and features simple frameless windows. Peculiarities of the time are the wrought iron balconies on the first floor and, in particular, the so-called “baltresca” that crowns the building, once widespread and now almost disappeared. Another notable feature of the building is the presence of fragments of frescoes, further evidence of that Brescia “urbs picta”.

Church of San Giuseppe
Built in the sixteenth century, it has a remarkable artistic heritage inside, including paintings and chapels that house a vast amount of canvases, wall frescoes, stuccos and other decorative inserts, the result of a centuries-old stratification. The fourteen stations of the Via Crucis of San Giuseppe, executed in 1713 by Giovanni Antonio Cappello, hang on the walls of the side aisles. Inside there is also the largest ancient organ in the world, the work of the Antegnati.

Monte di Pietà new
The new Monte di Pietà is a palace dating back to the end of the 16th century, which extends along the eastern half of the south side of the square, at the corner with via X Giornate. The tremors of 29 May due to the 2012 earthquakes in Emilia caused a lesion in the upper left corner of the front of the building on the square, which however did not deteriorate.

Old pawnshop
The Monte di Pietà Vecchio is a palace dating back to the end of the 15th century, which extends along the western half of the south side of the square. The palace was built between 1484 and 1489 on a project by the architect Filippo de ‘Grassi in elegant Renaissance lines of Venetian inspiration. A century later it was enlarged with the construction of the new Monte di Pietà, which is inserted into it to the east through a fake loggia of clear late sixteenth-century taste.

Monument to the Beautiful Italy
The monument to Bella Italia or Bell’Italia, officially a monument to the fallen of the Ten Days of Brescia, is a marble monument located in the north-east branch of Piazza della Loggia. Dedicated to the fallen of the Ten Days of Brescia, it is the work of Giovanni Battista Lombardi in 1864 and was donated to the city by Vittorio Emanuele II. On the place where the monument is today there was originally the column with the Lion of St. Mark on top, a sign of the dominion of the Republic of Venice over the city. The column had been erected between 1454 and 1455 and at its base there were held, for centuries, the executions of those sentenced to death. Finally demolished in 1797 by the revolutionaries of the Brescia Republic, it leaves an empty space in the clearing, which is filled a few decades later, in 1864, from the new monument.

The monument has a high base with a square plan, in turn raised on a short staircase at the base, on the sides of which there are histories, in bas-relief, the salient facts of the popular uprising: from the panel on the front, counterclockwise, there are the Insurrection in Piazzetta Tito Speri, the Combat at Porta Venezia, the shooting of the captured insurgents and the funeral of the fallen. The crowning glory is a female figure who personifies Italy, holding a large banner and, in the hand held out in front of her, a laurel wreath. Between the base and the statue there is a low plinth on which two inscriptions are affixed: the one on the front is the dedication to the “people risen against the Austrian tyranny”, while the one on the back certifies the gift of Vittorio Emanuele II.

Palace of the Loggia
It is a Renaissance palace today the seat of the municipal council of Brescia, from which the square takes its name. It was designed in 1484 when the city authorities decided to donate to the citizens a new palace that was a grandiose expression of “good governance”, thus replacing the original loggia and increasing the monumentality of piazza della Loggia, which was rising at the time. The function of the building, during the Venetian domination of Brescia, was to host the audiences of the Venetian podestà, the City Council and the College of Notaries, demonstrating the centrality that this building has always played in city life; both geographically and politically.

Clock Tower
The Clock Tower is a sixteenth-century building that stands out on the east side of the square. Built between 1540 and 1550 on a project by Lodovico Beretta, architect from Brescia, one of the authors of the Palazzo della Loggia, it houses a complex mechanical device, inserted between 1544 and 1546, able to mark the hours, the phases moon and zodiac signs on two different quadrants.

The first, which looks towards Piazza della Loggia, has a quadrant and the tympanum painted by Gian Giacomo Lamberti in 1547, while the second side, which overlooks Via Beccaria, has a gilded quadrant by an unspecified author. On the upper part there is a bronze bell, and two copper automata installed in 1581, depicting two men equipped with hammers and called in the Brescia dialect the “Macc de le ure”, or “the madmen of the hours”, who by means of an appropriate connection with the clock mechanism contained in the tower, they mark the time by beating against the bell. In the lower part of the tower in 1595 a long portico with single spans in white Botticino stone was added, made by the Brescian architect Piero Maria Bagnadore.

In Piazza della Vittoria
Piazza della Vittoria is one of the main squares of Brescia, built between 1927 and 1932 on a project by the architect Marcello Piacentini through the demolition of a part of the medieval historic center. Subject of strong controversies and vandalism after World War II, it is an emblem of architecture and urban planning of the 1930s.

Piacentini’s project is absolutely classical, full of clear, squared volumes covered with shiny white marble, with many references to Roman times. The square has an L-shape, that is a rectangle with the long side parallel to the north-south axis and, in the north-west corner, the remaining portion of the area that constitutes the L. On the inner right angle there is the tall tower of the former INA, National Insurance Institute. On the northern background stands the large Palazzo delle Poste, with its two-tone white-ocher cladding. The square is completed by the Tower of the Revolution, with a clock, and three other buildings, differently resolved and more reminiscent of classical architecture, with extensive use of the Doric and Serlian order.

In Corso Palestro Street
Corso Palestro is a pedestrian street that crosses the central-southern area of the historic city center, in an east-west direction, on a path of about four hundred meters. It begins in the west from the clearing in front of the church of San Francesco d’Assisi and ends at the crossroads between Corso Giuseppe Zanardelli and Via Dieci Giornate. The course is characterized by the numerous commercial establishments, making it one of the most frequented streets by city pedestrian traffic.

Casa Ottelli
Casa Ottelli is a building located in Corso Palestro, at the corner with Corso Martiri della Libertà. Built in 1932, it has two bas-reliefs by Angelo Righetti on the facade. The building was designed in 1932 by the architect Gerolamo Uberti on commission from the pharmacist Giuseppe Ottelli. In the same year, when the construction site was completed, the façade was enriched with bas-reliefs by Angelo Righetti, a sculptor from Brescia who had recently gained a certain fame in the city after the execution of the plastic works in Piazza della Vittoria. During the Second World War it was touched by bombing, which instead destroyed the building across the street. Now houses a series of shops and apartments.

Gambero houses
The Gambero houses are a series of buildings located in the historic center of Brescia, on both sides of Corso Palestro, south of Piazza del Mercato. Built in the mid-sixteenth century probably by Lodovico Beretta between 1550 and 1555, they have on the facades a vast cycle of frescoes by Lattanzio Gambara, partly lost, partly transferred to the Tosio Martinengo Art Gallery and partly still on site, but in of strong deterioration. The name “del Gambero” comes, by extension, from the proximity of the buildings to the centuries-old Gambero hotel, which was located near, south of Corso Zanardelli.

Church of San Francesco d’Assisi
The Church of San Francesco d’Assisi is taken as a reference point for the beginning of Corso Palestro. It is flanked by an ancient Franciscan convent dating back to 1300. Built in the 13th century, it still maintains a strong medieval connotation. From 1400 the church was enriched with five altars, two of which were made by Moretto and Romanino, in the midst of which were found remains of medieval frescoes depicting the Last Judgment and the Pietà. Subsequently, the works of embellishment of the presbytery were completed, and from 1500, in the middle of the Renaissance, the chapel of the Immaculate Conception was built in the left aisle.

With the advent of the French in 1797 the church and the convent annexed to it underwent a phase of decline in which archives were destroyed and many rooms were ruined including a library, and only in 1839, thanks to the Brescian architect Rodolfo Vantini the church he resumed his modernization work, also taking on some neoclassical elements. The church preserves an important treasure, not exposed to the public, consisting of various ancient liturgical objects linked to the history of the monastery. In the collection, the Cross of San Francesco stands out, a great work of goldsmith’s work from the early sixteenth century by Giovanni Francesco delle Croci.

In Piazza del Mercato
Piazza del Mercato is a square located southwest of Piazza della Vittoria along Corso Palestro, at the north end of Via Antonio Gramsci. Formed starting from the fifteenth century, it underwent numerous additions and changes, especially in the buildings facing its sides, until the first half of the twentieth century.

This has resulted in a considerable typological and chronological variety of the buildings that delimit the square and its monuments, with evidence of the fifteenth century (the arcades of the south elevation), sixteenth century (Beretta palace), seventeenth century (church of the Madonna del Lino), eighteenth century (Martinengo palace Palatini), nineteenth-century (central fountain) and twentieth-century (buildings from the 1930s and former covered market from the 1960s).

Church of the Madonna del Lino
Church of Santa Maria del Lino is a church in Brescia, located in the southwest corner of Piazza del Mercato. Built at the beginning of the seventeenth century by Pietro Maria Bagnadore to house a highly venerated local votive image, the building has always assumed the role of a sanctuary rather than a church, also given its modest size. The name “del lino” comes from the square it overlooks, where the linen market was once held. It contains residues of the original seventeenth-century decoration and the results of the many interventions carried out during the 18th century.

Beretta Palace
Palazzo Beretta is a palace in Brescia, located in Piazza del Mercato, along the north front. It was built in 1558 by Lodovico Beretta as a luxury residence for the linen merchants active here and still today constitutes one of the distinctive architectural fronts of Piazza del Mercato.

Martinengo Palatini Palace
It is the main and monumental front of Piazza del Mercato. Built in the fifteenth century by the Martinengo family and completely rebuilt between the end of the seventeenth and the beginning of the eighteenth century, it is one of the most elegant and harmonious Baroque palaces in the city. Having been destined for multiple uses since 1874, since 2000 it has been the seat of the rectorate of the University of Brescia.

Teofila Tower
The Teofila tower is an ancient tower of which today only a piece of walls remains incorporated in the back of the Martinengo Palatini palace, at the corner between via Fratelli Porcellaga and vicolo degli Asini. The tower dates back to the end of the 12th century and must have been part of the fortifications of Porta Sant’Agata, as part of the first city walls built starting from 1174. These walls fell into disuse with the subsequent expansions of the city, in the second mid-fifteenth century the tower, or what already remained of it, was probably bought by the Martinengos together with other land near Piazza del Mercato, where the family built the aforementioned palace. Starting from 1672 the fifteenth-century palace was completely rebuilt at the behest of Teofilo Martinengo, from whom the tower takes its name.

In Piazzale Arnaldo
Piazzale Arnaldo is a square located on the eastern perimeter of the historic city center, at the end of via Tosio Martinengo and corso Magenta. Born through a series of urban interventions during the nineteenth century, it was the scene of a bloody battle during the ten days of Brescia and an attack in 1976.

The piazza is dominated by the Mercato dei Grani, an imposing arcade over one hundred meters long, and the monument to Arnaldo da Brescia, erected in 1882. The square is today an important hub of urban traffic and, thanks to the numerous bars and restaurants that overlook it, is also one of the centers of the city’s nightlife. The Ronchi, the hills of the city, with a particularly direct view towards the dog’s grave, form a panoramic background.

Grain Market
The monumental Porticoed Grani Market was built on a project by the architect Luigi Basiletti together with Angelo Vita starting from 1820 until 1823. The building is a grandiose factory 112 meters long and 15 meters wide, with twenty arches. The center is highlighted by a taller and protruding body concluded by a triangular pediment, in which originally there was an epigraph, now disappeared, dedicated to the then recent spouses Arciduca Raineri, viceroy of the Lombard-Venetian kingdom, and Maria Elisabetta of Savoy. In its place the city coat of arms is now present. At the ends of the building there are two fountains, in Botticino marble, designed by the architect Angelo Vita in 1823.

Monument to Arnaldo da Brescia
In the background to the east of the square, in a central position, stands the imposing monument dedicated to Arnaldo da Brescia, a 12th century friar who attacked the corruption of the clergy. The monument was finally inaugurated on August 14, 1882, to tangibly remember the figure of this Brescian, recognizing in him values of civil and moral commitment in a secular and libertarian sense, as proposed by some politically and culturally engaged groups of citizens. The large bronze statue is the work of the sculptures Odoardo Tabacchi, as well as the four bas-reliefs, depicting scenes from the life of the friar, which decorate the four sides of the base. The high and elaborate neo-Romanesque pedestal can be traced back to Antonio Tagliaferri.

In Musei Street
Via dei Musei, or more simply via Musei, is one of the main streets in the historic center of Brescia, known mainly for the multitude of monuments and cultural institutions that overlook its long path of about 800 meters, from piazza della Loggia to the monastery. of Santa Giulia, including churches, palaces of the ancient city nobility, medieval remains and Roman ruins.

Monastery of Santa Giulia
Monastery of Santa Giulia is a convent complex that rises in via dei Musei, incorporating the oldest monastery of San Salvatore built in the Lombard age. The current appearance of the monastery derives mainly from the renovations carried out between the 15th and 16th centuries. The set is part of the serial site ” Lombards in Italy: the places of power “, including seven places full of architectural relics, paintings and sculptures Lombard art, inscribed on the World Heritage List of the ‘ UNESCOin June 2011. The monastery of San Salvatore was founded in 753 at the behest of the Lombard duke Desiderio (future king of the Lombards) and his wife Ansa. It was a female monastery and the first abbess was Anselperga, daughter of the same sovereign. The monastery possessed huge assets that went well beyond the Brescia border and was at the center of an intense commercial exchange activity.

Museum of Santa Giulia
Museum of Santa Giulia is the main museum of Brescia, located in via dei Musei 55, along the ancient decumanus maximum of the Roman Brixia. It is housed in the monastery of Santa Giulia. The area below the Museum is rich in archaeological finds from various eras, mostly belonging to the Roman era and well preserved, in particular the Domus dell’Ortaglia. All the structures of the ancient monastery are part of the museum, including the church of Santa Maria in Solario, the nuns’ choir and the church of Santa Giulia.

Thousands of objects and works of art ranging from the Bronze Age to the nineteenth century are preserved in the museum, mainly from the city context and from the province of Brescia, whose in-depth themes focus mainly on the history of the city of Brescia and its territory. Among the numerous works of art, the Winged Victory, the Cross of Desiderius, the Lipsanoteca and the “Collectibles and applied arts” sector, where all the private collections donated to the museum between the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries are kept.

Burnt gate
Burnt gate is an ancient tower located at the west end of via dei Musei, in the north east corner of Piazza della Loggia. Located on the maximum decumanus of Roman Brixia, it was built in this period as a fortified gate for access to the city from the west. Still in the early Middle Ages, in some documents it is identified as “Porta Milanese”, indicating the original name of the structure. In 1184, according to the chronicles of the time, the raging fire that destroyed this area of the city started from here, from the current Piazza Rovetta to even the old Cathedral under construction. The nickname “Burned” dates back to this episode. Today it serves as a private residence.

Church of S. Rita
San Faustino in Rest (Church of S. Rita). is a church located in Vicolo della Torre, north of Piazza della Loggia, next to Porta Bruciata. With its characteristic cone-shaped external shape, it was built in the 12th century as a votive sanctuary on the place where, by tradition, the remains of the patron saints Faustino and Giovita had stood and “rested” during their translation. The alley at the bottom of which the outside of the building is visible represents one of the many fascinating glimpses of medieval Brescia, usually little known to most.

Santa Maria della Carità
St. Mary of Charity, also known as the church of the Good Shepherd since it was built until 1998 by the adjacent monastery of the same name, it is a church located along via dei Musei, at the intersection with via Gabriele Rosa. Set on a characteristic octagonal plan, it houses a remarkable Baroque decorative apparatus and some noteworthy works, including sculptures. The church was built starting from 1640 on a project by the architect Agostino Avanzo at the behest of the priest Pietro Franzoni, superior of the Pio Istituto delle Penitenti, and thanks to the economic contribution of the population: the construction site will last until 1655. The structure underwent important renovations from 1730 onwards thanks to the interest of the sexton Busi, again supported by the people’s funds.

Palazzo Maggi di Gradella
Palazzo Maggi di Gradella is a 16th century palace located in via dei Musei. The building owned by the Maggi di Gradella, a Cremonese branch of the noble family of the same name from Brescia, was built at the end of 1544 by Lodovico Beretta, and as Palazzo Uggeri, which is located in the immediate vicinity, contains some frescoes by Lattanzio Gambara.

Uggeri Palace
Uggeri Palace it is a seventeenth-century building located in via dei Musei and the work of the Brescia architect Lodovico Beretta. The building, which was subsequently renovated in a neoclassical key, contains some parts frescoed by Lattanzio Gambara, while in the main facade you can admire the imposing balcony adorned with small cherubs.

San Desiderio
St. Desiderius is a minor church located at the north end of via Gabriele Rosa at the intersection with Vicolo Sant’Urbano, on the slopes of Colle Cidneo, a short distance from the castle. Passed under the ownership of various parishes and religious orders over the centuries, it has always kept its role very small as well as its size. It is currently deconsecrated and is the seat of a theatrical association.

In Piazza del Foro
One of the oldest squares in Brescia, born on the forum of the Roman city in the 1st century AD. It is part of the Brescia Antica district, in the heart of the historic center, crossed to the north by via dei Musei. It is rectangular in shape and there are most of the Roman remains of the city, divided between the Capitolium, the civil basilica and the archaeological excavations of Palazzo Martinengo Cesaresco Novarino. The ancient Roman forum has been attributed by many to the role of center of the civil and religious life of Roman Brixia, as evidenced by the presence of the Capitoline temple, located in the northern part of the square, which included two rows of side arcades of which some remains sign in the central part of the square, and of the Basilica (or court), of which some finds are preserved in the surrounding buildings.

Tempio Capitolino
The square houses the Capitolium or Tempio Capitolino, a Roman temple. Together with the theater and the remains of the city forum, it constitutes the most important complex of Roman ruins and remains in Lombardy. The construction of the building is to be attributed to Vespasiano, between 73 and 74. The temple was built over a previous republican temple and its construction is due to the victory of the Emperor over General Vitellius, in the plain between Goito and Cremona. Destroyed by a fire during the barbarian raids that plagued Europe in the 4th century AD and never rebuilt, it was buried by a landslide on the Cidneo hill during the Middle Ages.

The temple was brought to light only in 1823 thanks to the support of the Municipality of Brescia and the University, who demolished the public houses and the small park (Giardino Luzzaghi) built years earlier on the ground now leveled above the building, bringing back to the light the ancient center of Roman Brixia. Next to the remains of the Capitolium, also in Piazza del Foro, is the Church of San Zeno al Foro. Built during the eighteenth century on the previous medieval church, it appears gradually on the background of today’s Via Musei for those who walk along it from Piazza della Loggia, so much so that it is possible to see it from Porta Bruciata. Together with the Roman ruins, the scene of the square also dominates, aided by the imaginative Baroque railing of its churchyard.

Piazza Tebaldo Brusato
Located south of the east end of via dei Musei, the square is dedicated to Tebaldo Brusato, a Guelph hero of the defense of Brescia from the Emperor Henry VII. It is rectangular in shape and in the center there is a public garden. In 1173 it was established as the first municipal square by transforming the area near the monastery of Santa Giulia, used for agricultural use, as an area for the sale of goods, favoring the birth and growth of many artisan shops; for this reason it was renamed “New Market”.

Santa Giulia – City Museum
The monastery of San Salvatore, later known as Santa Giulia (915) was founded by the will of the Lombard king Desiderio and his wife Ansa in 753 AD, on an archaeologically very rich area (remains of Roman domus have been found under the basilica of San Salvatoreand in the vegetable garden of Santa Giulia). The many extensions and reconstructions that have occurred over the centuries have given shape to the complex articulated around three cloisters, as we can admire it today; particularly significant those carried out in the communal age (12th century: reconstruction of the cloisters, expansion of the crypt of San Salvatore, construction of Santa Maria in Solario) and in the late century. XV (radical reconstruction of the cloisters to which the northern one of the dormitories was added, elevation of the Nuns’ Choir and displacement of the facade of the church of San Salvatore, which was in turn destroyed and completely redesigned by the construction of the new church of Santa Giulia, completed in 1499).

Civic Art Gallery Tosio Martinengo
The Pinacoteca, with its important collection of works – Raffaello, Foppa, Savoldo, Moretto, Romanino, Lotto, Ceruti, Hayez, Thorvaldsen, Pelagi, Canella and Canova to name the most famous -, is organized through an exhibition in 21 rooms conceived to give the visitor back the complexity of the Museum and its collections through a reflection on their history and on the critical orientations that determined their physiognomy from the late Gothic to the early 19th century.

Mille Miglia Museum
The initiative to create a museum dedicated to the Freccia Rossa was desired and implemented by the Museum Association of the Mille Miglia City of Brescia, set up by entrepreneurs from Brescia “friends of the Mille Miglia” in December 1996. The associative team now numbers 50 shareholders. The new Museum opened to the public on November 10, 2004.

“Luigi Marzoli” Arms Museum
In one of the oldest areas of the Castle, the Mastio Visconteo of valuable 14th century workmanship, a significant monumental survival of the defensive apparatus of the Cidneo hill, there is the “Luigi Marzoli” Weapons Museum, inaugurated in 1988 on installation by Carlo Scarpa. It houses one of the richest European collections of armor, sidearms, firearms and armor which on the one hand tell of the very long Brescia tradition in arms production, and on the other reconstruct in an exhibition of 580 pieces (part of the total 1090 pieces of the bequest arranged by the industrialist Luigi Marzoli) the history that is both war and artistic enclosed in the objects of the armory,in particular that of Milan and Brescia from the 15th-18th centuries.

The Diocesan Museum
Since its inception in 1996, the Diocesan Museum has had the task of guaranteeing the protection and custody in the first place of sacred works of art whose conservation was made precarious by their location.

National Museum of Photography
The National Museum of Photography Cinefotoclub (founded in 1953) houses a very rich heritage of photographic and cinematographic antiques: through 8000 pieces the history of photography from 1826 to the digital age and the history of amateur and professional cinema are told. The Archive houses over 60,000 photographs, from glass plates, negatives, prints, slides, to digital support. Very important is the exhibition of the ancient single copy procedures: daguerreotypes, ambrotypes, tintypes.

MA.CO.F Center of Italian Photography
Housed inside the MO.CA, the center for new cultures in the baroque Palazzo Martinengo Colleoni di Malpaga (from which the acronym Ma.Co.f takes its name), it is a permanent exhibition that reconstructs the history of Italian photography of the after the twentieth century. A journey into the “icons” of Italian photography and the stories of its major protagonists, but also a reasoned journey through the evolution, interests and aesthetic and cultural choices of Italian photography. It is a collection of over 250 original photographs, by 48 of the most important and representative Italian photographers of the twentieth century, ranging from documentary and journalistic photography to fashion, from portrait to research photography, from advertising to landscape photography and tell the wealth of styles and personalities of Italian photography.

Other places of interest in Brescia are the Teatro Grande, located in the middle of Corso Zanardelli, recognized as a national monument in 1912, whose construction dates back to the 17th century; the Teatro Sociale, located in via Felice Cavallotti, the second city theater, founded in 1851 as the Guillaume Theater and abandoned in the second half of the twentieth century, only to be reopened to the public in 2000;

Brescia Castle
It ranks first among the ancient military architectures of Brescia that have come down to us: built in the thirteenth century by the Visconti on a previous site, on the top of the Cidneo hill, it was enlarged for the first time in the fifteenth century and then completed in the sixteenth century. All strategic functions ceased in the mid-nineteenth century, the castle is now a huge public park that offers interesting walks among the ancient defense structures and a wide view over the entire city. The interior of the fortress houses two museums. Inside is the Museum of the Risorgimento.

Natural areas
ASM Gianni Panella Water Park, located at the foot of the medieval walls;
Park of the hills: with 4,000 ha of surface (of which over 2,100 ha are included within the municipal boundaries), it is the largest green area in Brescia. It is a natural park established to preserve Monte Maddalena and the Ronchi, the hills that are immediately north-east of the historic center;
Tarello Park: it is the second largest park in the city (100,000 m 2) and one of the most recent. It is located in Brescia 2, the modern area of the city, and is surrounded by the skyscrapers of the business center. Project by the Global studio in Lisbon;
Park of the castle: it can be considered the oldest park in Brescia and is the third largest in terms of surface (96,235 m 2). It extends along the slopes of Colle Cidneo, offering suggestive glimpses of the historic center;
Ducos Park: it is one of the historical parks of Brescia and with its 55,540 m 2 of extension it constitutes an important green lung for the eastern area of the city. Inside there is a large pond where turtles and water birds live.
Parco delle cave: inaugurated in April 2018 and located south-east of the city, between the districts of San Polo and Buffalora, characterized by artificial basins, it recovers what were once excavation areas and which have now been converted into green areas open to the public.

Brescia and its province represent a land rich in flavors with a very particular gastronomy, played between two poles: the peasant cuisine of the hinterland and the valleys and that of fish from the lakes of lseo and Garda. In 2015 Brescia and its province were included by IGCAT (International Institute of Gastronomy, Culture, Arts and Tourism) in the Eastern Lombardy European Region of Gastronomy 2017 gastronomic project, together with the cities and provinces of Bergamo, Cremona and Mantua.

Retracing tradition with a focus on the future, whether it’s through a revival of the local fresh fish or a rebirth of the garden among the urban rooftops, in the countryside, or in shared plots. The ideal Lombard menu with a contemporary spin starts with a glass of Franciacorta Brut, grana shavings, Mondeghili (Milanese meatballs), Valtellina’s Bresaola, and cold cuts from San Colombano.

Risotto with smoked sardines, perch, or coffee. A trademark dish reworked and mastered through infinite variations represents just one of the culinary highlights in the region. Street food, countryside snacks, as an apericena, or a trademark plate. Lombardy’s gastronomy has been liberated from the binds of risotto and cotoletta.

The celebrated casoncelli from Brescia, the risotto alla pitocca, the beautiful schidionate of quail and pigeons for polenta, the domestic birds (chicken, hen, capon) with savory fillings and the specialty of the Brescia-style stuffed pigeon, the persicata , are specialties of the gastronomy of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance handed down almost without updates and own facts, in recent decades by catering including agritourism, to represent the most refined aspects of traditional taste, in combination with the great DOCG wines of Franciacorta and DOC of Lugana, del Garda Classico, San Martino della Battaglia, Cellatica, Botticino and Capriano del Colle.

The main dish is the Brescia spit. The popular soul of Brescia cuisine, however, offers its best proofs in polenta dishes, typically the taragna (in Valsabbia called Tiragna) and rice and in simple foods where you can still smell the scent of the farmyard and the fireplace. From the now forgotten polenta and saracca to that with pork rinds, from that with cod to that with pork sauce; and, again, polenta with birds, with mushrooms, with vegetables, with rabbit in a walnut. And then the country rice with vegetables, risotto with wild spinach, strangolapreti, bigoli with sardines and pastissada de caval of clear Venetian origin, rustic omelettes with vegetables or salami. Not to forget the other great protagonists of Brescia’s gastronomy, cold cuts and cheeses. The best known of all is the Bagòss, with a robust taste and typical aroma with which it designates the most widespread product of the area. A special mention goes to the Brescia aperitif par excellence: the pirlo.


Mille Miglia vintage car race
Mille Miglia is a race reserved to cars built between 1927 and 1957. Every year, it attracts thousands of car lovers from all over the world, especially during the car control procedures which are performed in the historic streets and squares of Brescia. Car lovers meet the racers (Formula 1 champions, celebrities, actors, and athletes) and discuss the route, placement expectations, and the race cars which will take place in this event across Italy.

Alfa Romeo, Lancia, Ferrari, Mercedes Benz, Porsche, Fiat, Audi, Bmw, Bugatti, Maserati, Aston Martin: the most fascinating cars all meet in Brescia; they come from the garage of car collectors or from car manufacturers’ museums.

Festa della Musica
Every year in June, Brescia hosts Festa della Musica, the biggest music festival in Italy. This unique event stretches to every corner of the city and is a colourful festival of sounds open to musicians of all age, origin and musical genre. Brescia is flooded with music and colour, it’s a day of celebration of every type of music which spreads from the city centre to the surrounding districts.

From rock to jazz, from pop to soul, from funky to dance: there’s really something for every taste! Large spaces and more intimate locations, indoor venues and special concerts like that in Canton Mombello prison: Brescia opens its doors to this flood of music and welcomes music lovers and interested tourists arriving from all over Italy. Celebrities can’t be missing. They will be announced closer to the event and will perform in the biggest stages, including Piazza Loggia, Piazza Paolo VI and Piazza Vittoria squares.