Brescia Tourist Attractions
SituationBrescia, capital of the province of the same name, second in importance only to Milan among the towns of Lombardy, lies below two foothills of the Brescian Alps, some 25km/15mi west of Lake Garda.
The picturesque old town, surrounded by gardens, has Roman remains dating from the early Empire and fine Renaissance buildings. Following heavy damage during the Second World War some parts of the town have been rebuilt with wider streets and larger squares. The town's industries include textiles and hardware, and it is also an important market center for the agricultural products of the fertile surrounding area.HistoryThe ancient Brixia became a Roman colony in the time of Augustus under the name of Colonia Augusta Civica and rose to prosperity as a result of its situation on the road which ran from Bologna through the Alps by way of the Splügen pass. During the Middle Ages it was an active member of the Lombard league of towns. From 1428 to 1797 it belonged to Venice. Brescia produced two notable painters - Alessandro Bonvicino, known as Il Moretto (1498-1554), whose coloring vies with that one of the Venetians, and Girolama da Romano, known as Il Romanino (c. 1485-after 1562). Their works are well represented in the town's churches and in the Pinacoteca.
Piazza del Duomo
On the south side of the Duomo Nuovo in Brescia is the Rotonda or Duomo Vecchio, a massive circular structure crowned by a dome (11th-12th centuries) containing works by Moretto and Romanino. Beneath the transept lies the Cripta di San Filastrio; the columns have capitals of the former Basilica di S Maria Maggiore (sixth and ninth centuries).
To the north of the Duomo Nuovo in Brescia is the Broletto (1187-1230), the old Town Hall, now housing the prefecture, with the Torre del Popolo.
To the west of the Piazza del Duomo in Brescia is the Piazza della Vittoria, Brescia's central square (rebuilt c. 1930). Behind the Post Office lies the Piazza della Loggia, one of the most picturesque squares in northern Italy. On its west side is the superb Loggia (Town Hall), begun in Early Renaissance style (1492-1508) and completed between 1526 and 1674 (windows by Palladio). Opposite on the east side can be seen a facade with a 16th century clock-tower. On the south side is the Monte di Pietà (pawnshop), with a beautiful Early Renaissance loggia (15th century).
From the Broletto steps lead up to the Castello, an old stronghold of the Visconti family, surrounded by a park (zoo, observatory); the Castello houses the Risorgimento Museum. A tunnel, the Galleria Tito Speri, under the castle hill leads to the developing district of Borgo Trento.
Via dei Musei and Pinacoteca Tosio Martinengo
From the Broletto the Via dei Musei, once the Via Aemilia, the main street of the Roman town, runs east to the Tempio Capitolino, a Corinthian temple built in A.D. 73, in the reign of Vespasian, and dedicated to Jupiter, Juno and Minerva, with a pronaos of eight columns and three cellas. The three cellas contain a collection of Roman inscriptions.
Behind the Tempio Capitolino in Brescia is the Museo Romano, with Roman material from Brescia and the surrounding area, including a bronze statue, almost 2m/7ft high, of a winged Victory, dating from the period of construction of the temple, and six Roman bronze busts (second-third century).
Museum of Christian Antiquities
In Via Piamarta in Brescia, is the Museo dell'Età Cristiana (Museum of Christian Antiquities), in the former church of Santa Giulia, with religious art, including carved ivories of the third-fifth centuries and a gold cross which belonged to the Lombard king Desiderius (eighth century). Immediately east of this is the ninth century church of San Salvatore, which has a beautiful crypt (42 columns).
Galleria d'Arte Moderna
In the western cloister of the former convent of Santa Giulia in Brescia is the Galleria d'Arte Moderna, with works of the 19th century. Adjoining stands the remarkable Romanesque church of S Maria in Solario (12th century).
Sights in the West of Brescia
Santa Maria dei Miracoli
In the Corso Martiri della Libertà, to the southwest of the town, is the little church of Santa Maria dei Miracoli (restored), with an elegant Early Renaissance vestibule (1487-1508) and an impressive interior.
Santi Nazaro e Celso
A little way southwest of Santa Maria dei Miracoli stands the church of Santi Nazaro e Celso (1780), with altarpieces by Moretto and a "Resurrection" by Titian behind the high altar.
To the north of Santi Nazaro e Celso is the Gothic church of San Francesco (1254-65) with fine pictures by Romanino and a beautiful Gothic cloister (1393).
San Giovanni Evangelista
Northwest of the Piazza della Vittoria is the church of San Giovanni Evangelista, with paintings by Moretto and Romanino.
Madonna delle Grazie
Farther west of San Giovanni Evangelista stands the former convent church of Santa Maria delle Grazie, with a sumptuous interior and a beautiful cloister.
Tosio Martinengo Picture Gallery
About 500m/550yd southeast of the Teatro Grande, in Piazza Moretto, is the Pinacoteca Tosio Matinengo, with masterpieces by Brescian artists, including pictures by Moretto and Romanino and paintings by Lotto, Foppa and Raffael.
Address: Via Martinengo da Barco 1, I-25100 Brescia, Italy
Opening hours: Jun 1 to Sep 30: 10am-5pm; Closed: Mon
Oct 1 to May 31: 9:30am-1pm, 2:30pm-5pm; Closed: Mon
Oct 1 to May 31: 9:30am-1pm, 2:30pm-5pm; Closed: Mon
Always closed on: New Year's Day (Jan 1), May Day / Labor Day (May 1), All Saints' Day - Christian (Nov 1), Christmas - Christian (Dec 25)
Entrance fee: FREE
The surroundings of Brescia include Monte Maddalena and the Lago d'Iseo.
From Brescia a road with many bends leads to Monte Maddalena (875m/2,888ft), from which there is a panoramic prospect extending as far as Monte Rosa.
On the picturesque Lake Iseo is the island of Monte Isola, with the pilgrimage church of Madonna della Ceriola and the little village of Peschiera Maraglio.
Darfo Boario Terme
13km/8mi northeast of Lovere, in the Val Carmonica, lies the spa of Darfo Boario Terme with chalybeate springs. From here there is an attractive excursion to the northwest, through the 10km/6mile long Dezzo gorge, known as the "Via Mala Lombarda", to Dezzo.
Breno (343m/1,132ft; pop. 6,000) is situated 13km/8mi northeast of Darfo Boario Terme. It is the chief town of the Val Camonica, with a ruined castle and the two churches of San Salvatore and Sant' Antonio. To the north rises a fine dolomitic peak, the Corna di Concarena (2,549m/8,412ft), to the northeast the Pizzo Badile (2,435m/8,036ft), the "Matterhorn of the Val Camonica".
Capo di Ponte Rock Paintings
At Capo di Ponte, in the Val Camonica, lies the Parco Nazionale della Incisioni Rupestri (National Park of the Rock Paintings); in this area can be seen numerous rock paintings made by the former inhabitants, the Camuni (a total of 876 scenes from the Late Bronze and Iron Age). These rock paintings are included in the UNESCO list of protected items.
From Breno a beautiful road, narrow and sometimes steep, leads Southeast (49km/30mi) via Campolaro to the Passo di Croce Domini (1,895m/6,254ft), and then through the Valle Sanguinara and the Valle Cafforo to the mountain village of Bagolino (778m/2,567ft) and beyond this to the church of Sant'Antonio on the charming Lago d'Idro (10km/6mi long, up to 122m/400ft deep), known to the Romans as Lacus Eridius.
Map of Brescia Attractions