Things To Do In Brescia
From the time of the Roman supremacy, then Lombard, until the medieval and Renaissance era, the history of Brescia is summarized in its squares and crosses proud centuries until the arrival of the nineteenth century when it became known as the "Lioness of Italy" for its tenacity and endurance. Brescia is a small city in Northern Italy that is full of interesting and historically valuable attractions. On the central square of the town is the old main church - the Duomo. At night, it conveys an unusual presence with its massive ancient walls of white stone, illuminated lanterns, and creating the impression that it is not a temple but an indestructible medieval fortress.
When To Go:
Summer is the perfect time to visit (May until September) the sights and enjoy the things to do in and around Brescia. The climate is gentle with no chance for rain and characterized by dry weather. The humidity accelerates as the peak of the summer season begins from July until August where the temperature may range up to 70 degrees, but towards the evening, it can get down to the low 50s. The late spring and early fall likewise have a tendency to be dry on the other hand, but this season of the year offers a lot of days where you can appreciate the historic sites, landmarks, and the rays of sunshine in Brescia.
Winters are cold but not to the point of extreme icy weather as temperatures once in a while fall underneath the chilly temperature amid the day, yet it isn't remarkable for nighttimes in the 20s. Winters are for the most part genuinely dry (October to December), and it wasn't until the late spring (April) that the stormy season really starts, so remember that if you need to take in the various open air sights and places of interests in Brescia.
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Here are the major attractions and things to do in the city of Brescia…
Duomo Vecchio di Brescia
The Duomo Vecchio di Brescia is a cathedral that is characterized by its unusual shape. However, at the entrance there is a sensation of coolness and calm that will make you want to linger, relax and look around. Of particular note is the basement (crypt) which has not so much design, but the notion that you are in a very ancient site and you can touch it or try to guess the contents of the frescoes on the ceiling makes this place truly interesting. This religious landmark is also known as the Amazing Cathedral Rotunda or the La Rotonda. Both the fortress and the majestic fortified cathedral could hide a couple of thousand inhabitants of the town. The powerful stone walls without plastering from the outside further emphasize this impression.
It is an eclectic building that provides an excursion into the history of architecture in Brescia. A Baroque portal connected to the Romanesque rotunda and to the rotunda behind a number of chapels. The Romanesque rotunda of the two-level at the entrance set the sarcophagus of the Bishop. On the lower level you can go down into the crypt.
Columns and steps of the crypt, according to the inscriptions were taken from earlier buildings while the attached chapel with beautiful frescoes were derived from the early Renaissance to the Baroque design era. At the same time it has preserved the remnants of mosaic floors built from the Roman baths. The stone stairs lead to the gallery, transept and even to the lower section of the cathedral, leading to the crypt of S.Filastrio, the former Bishop of Brescia.
Pay attention to the capitals of the crypt - these are all different because the columns were recycled and once stood in the Roman buildings. The Rotunda was built at the end of XI century on the site of the basilica of the same name, which in turn took the place of the Roman baths and mosaics unearthed and now seen in the transept. The natural lighting is excellent as the rays of the sun passes through the "hole in the dome" and the row of dome windows. It is a large 11th century Roman Catholic cathedral in the heart of the old city that is certainly interesting for tourists and its devoted pilgrims.
Associazione Brescia Underground
The guides at the Associazione Brescia Underground offer a fantastic experience and a different perspective of Brescia that is both fun and interesting. The two boys who will accompany you are entertainers who combine a great mix of curiosity about art, history and personal experiences by radiating all their enthusiasm about Brescia. The underground tour goes for around two and a half hours and in reality you do not walk a lot, often you stop to listen to the guides anecdotes and explanations. For those who suffer from claustrophobia unfortunately it is not very suitable, in fact, most of the time you cannot stand completely and the dimensions are very narrow and the last 10 minutes of the tour pass through corridors that are very low.
The visit is free of charge, but a compulsory donation is required and absolutely affordable, because this is how the association obtain funds to continue its work. Overall, it’s a unique experience for those who love the city and want to find out details and trivia unknown to most people. The association will provide boots from the moment you walk in the water, for the rest of the ensemble; it is advisable to wear comfortable clothing. The tour is not recommended for those who have back problems and afraid of spiders.
Santuario di Santa Maria delle Grazie
The Santuario di Santa Maria delle Grazie is a church full of history and where the faithful stop and pray in full recollection. Inside there is a fresco and the sacred image to which so many are turning from Brescia to get through. It is a large basilica decorated in every corner reflecting the sacredness and religious importance that for centuries have passed and still radiates to all the people who visit and know it. In the basilica you can stop before the relic of Blessed Pope Paul VI and the shirt he wore during the assassination attack in Manila.
The sanctuary of graces is extraordinarily attractive with its Baroque splendor, resembling the interior of Santa Maria -Madzhore in Bergamo. At the same time the lovely sanctuary still has some parts designed in the Gothic style (blue stained glass, colored marble facing, excellent frescoes). The religious complex also has a small courtyard with a cloister leading to the sanctuary and a pleasant garden where visitors can walk in peace and spend time in silent contemplation.
The Brescia Castle is perched on top of the hill of the Cidneo, it is also known as the "Falcon of Italy". Established from ancient origins, the first traces of human settlement date back to the ninth century BC in the middle Bronze Age. It became, thanks to the arrival of the Celts, also an area of worship where a temple once stood. It was only with the arrival of the Romans when this hill took a real defensive significance. The Romans were strengthening and in fact expanded the existing building to give a definite structure.
Since then, it has been a series of works made by the most diverse populations in various capacities passed around here, but all these different people had only one purpose and common goal which is to continue to fortify this structure by making it ever more powerful.
Lombard, French, Austrians (who also used it as a prison as well as sadly as a tool to torture cruelly the rebel city against them in the wake of the Risorgimento) and especially the Venetians (to name a few) undertook the maintenance, expansion and upgrading of the castle that is not, in fact, never been conquered. One is a museum dedicated to arms and the other to the Risorgimento. Both are very complete and historically important, it is also well-structured and allows the visitor an educational visit.
Another gem, located not far from the Brescia Castle and the Museum of the Risorgimento (Milan) is a huge miniature railway (said to be the largest in Italy) and still well cared for. Do not forget the small Observatory, astronomical observatory in the building. There are various access roads that climb to the castle from the town center. The first climb is fairly rugged, but affordable because it is not too far from the Martyrs Square Belfiore that rises to the top of the hill. This can be done only on foot or by bike. The other access point is the one at Via San Faustino which leads to the castle through a pleasant tree-lined road (passable by car) to the foot of the fortress. While looking at this stone sentinel bottom you have an impression of strength and majesty that says a lot about this place that literally dominates the city looming over it. Once you pass through the door of the first wall, you will find yourself wandering through the gardens where many years ago had housed a zoo (now closed forever) while you have the first visual impact of the old town as seen from above.
As you enter the castle, reaching the towers and highest battlements, you can appreciate the city skyline to the east until you have a great view of Mount Maddalena (the mountain that stands in the middle of the city) and the neighborhood across the hill planted with vines on the slopes of Cidneo. It looks sharper on a clear spring day and if you’re in luck, you might also be able to see the Lake Garda. There are some bars located outside, but in the immediate vicinity of the entrance to the castle, also provide the opportunity to sit in the pleasant shade of large chestnut trees to quench the thirst with something cool on hot summer days.
Piazza della Loggia
The Piazza della Loggia is an absolutely beautiful place to visit with all the arcades that surround it. It is located adjacent to the Piazza del Duomo where you can continue the journey of discovering the historic side of Brescia. You can also linger for a moment of silence before the place that became infamous for the massacre of 28 May 1974. Piazza Loggia is probably one of the most beautiful squares in Brescia that is close to the Metro Victoria. The Palazzo della Loggia is built in Palladian style and it looks imposing; so is the astronomical clock that is located across the square.
All around the square there are buildings in sixteenth-century Venetian style that is quite modest in appearance, but with strong visual impact, while in front of the Palazzo della Loggia, in the east side, there are also the arcades in Renaissance style, surmounted by the "Tower of Clock", so called for the presence of an antique clock built in 1546. Of particular artistic significance, the clock shows the 4 corners as many angels in gilded copper in representation of the winds and two male statues in bronze in Brescia dialect called the "Macc de le Ure ", which mark the day by beating the hammer on the bell at the top of the clock. Moreover, these buildings are surrounded by bars, restaurants and shops. Unfortunately, in 1974 the square was the scene of a massacre in which eight people were killed and more than a hundred were injured while a fascist protest was ongoing. In the area of the arcades is where you can see the monument in memory of these victims. In conclusion, this place is a major milestone during a visit to Brescia, in terms of both artistic and historic importance.
Piazza Paolo VI
The Piazza Paolo VI is Brescia's central square that is full of things to see and do. It is also known as the “Cathedral Square” and it is a must to visit the two "domes", the old circular cathedral (Duomo Vecchio di Brescia) and the most recent one. The other interesting and not to be missed attractions are the Tower of Pallata and the Broletto Palace that are both located within its proximity. In addition to this, the square is full of bars and restaurants where guests can take a break and enjoy the pleasant breeze with a beautiful view of the city.
This square is named after Pope Paul VI a native of Brescia, who was beatified in December 2014. It is a beautiful, rectangular square that is closed to traffic. What is striking about this plaza is that the important buildings, Broletto, and the new and old Cathedral are all on one side, one after the other and you can easily enjoy sitting at one of the tables outside the premises which open on the other side with a view of the green hills beside it.
Right in the center of Brescia and the adjacent Piazza del Duomo is the Broletto Palace, a classic medieval building that now serves as the headquarters of the provincial administration. In Pope Paul VI Square, next to the two cathedrals you will notice this beautiful building established since the twelfth century and the medieval era. It is still used as offices for the government, but still deserves to be admired from every perspective for both the beautiful facade with the tower and the adjacent courtyard area.
Tempio Capitolino e Piazza del Foro
The Tempio Capitolino e Piazza del Foro is a testament to imperial Rome and truly deserves a visit as it stands close to the ancient Duomo and Piazza della Loggia. It is an archaeological site preserved in a fanatical way that does justice to the efforts of the Brescia administration and the local community. In one of three rooms there is an interactive table that explains in detail the history of the capitol since the founding up to the present day. However, visitors gather more at the most spectacular part of the Roman ruins which is the facade. It is an interesting temple and theatre that is now made accessible to the public.
In the adjacent Palazzo Martinengo that overlooks the square of the Forum, you can see for free and have an idea how this temple was during the Roman times which leads to a better understanding of the attraction. In the Palace, which is free to visit, there are underground areas where you see not only the remnants of mosaic Roman ruins built in the medieval age, but also the oldest.
Museo di Santa Giulia
The Museo di Santa Giulia is a large complex (also known as the City Museum) that deserves to be visited in peace and spend a couple of hours, if not more and preferably in the morning. It is best taken with an audio guide and the best museum to see if you want to know more about the history of Brescia.
The most suggestive parts are the Basilica of San Salvatore (enchanting and full of small white columns) and the Choir of the Nuns (a cloister part that is preserved beautifully). It is one of the prides of Brescia, a museum full of artifacts of all ages that tell the history of the city, especially during the Roman empire and the age of the Renaissance.
Chiesa di San Salvatore
The Chiesa di San Salvatore is a beautiful church located in the museum complex of Santa Giulia. The striking and adorable frescoes are already worth the price of entry. It is very old and characterized by the abundant reuse of columns and capitals that make it look older, but with a nave that is quite bare. However, climbing a ladder to the side is how you can reach the Nuns’ Choir that is in a high position and from which they could follow the religious functions. From up here you can admire a splendor of the frescoes about the Passion of Christ and visit ancient monumental tombs.
Every era in the history of Italy has its center in Brescia with a specific location. The square of the Forum was the heart of Roman political life; the market square became the site of Piazza Duomo, while the Piazza Paolo VI is now the medieval heart. The Renaissance period is presented by the canons of proportions leading to the construction of the Piazza della Loggia. The modern era is reflected in the style of the fascist monument called the Piazza della Victoria. The remains of Brescia and important examples of the Lombard and Carolingian period are all conserved in the Santa Giulia Museum. In other words, Brescia is a gathering of every piece of each era that ruled Italy and gives every visitor a lasting impression and a surreal experience that is not to be missed.
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