What better time than now to visit Brescia, named the Italian Capital of Culture along with Bergamo for 2023? This little gem of a city is just an hour by train from Milan and promises to be even more tourist-friendly thanks to its new title. Here is a practical itinerary of some of Brescia’s major sights whether you plan to visit for just a day or even longer.
First Stop: The Duomo
If you arrive by train in the morning, you’ll be just steps away from the historic center and you’ll have plenty of time to see all the major attractions. Your itinerary can begin in Piazza Paolo VI and then to Piazza Vittoria passing through Piazza della Loggia. It is very easy to maneuver your way around Brescia’s historic center and if you’re a Google Maps addict, it’s child’s play.
The first stop is the Cathedral or the Duomo. In Brescia, there are actually two different complexes: the “new” Duomo and the “old” one. Do pay attention to opening hours because otherwise you will be forced to return later in the day if you want to go inside.
The newer cathedral, or Duomo Nuovo, in Piazza Paolo VI is striking for its Baroque façade and immense dome and for the paintings and high reliefs inside. The Duomo Vecchio, on the other hand, is characterized by a circular shape (also known as the “Rotonda”) and was built in the Romanesque era, but retains some of its early Christian basilica architecture.
Brixia Romana Archeological Park
A few steps away is the Archaeological Park which is a one-way ticket to Roman Brescia, or Brixia. It will be up to you to choose when to return to the modern day. Don’t miss the Isgrò Cancella Brixia Exhibition which connects archaeology to contemporary art.
This complex, recognized as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2011, consists of the sanctuary from the Republican age, the Capitolium, the Roman theater and finally some bronze statues including the Winged Victory inside the nineteenth-century museum.
After lunch, you can enter the corridors of the Santa Giulia Museum, immense in space and time because it traces the entire history of the second-largest municipality in Lombardy. Here, you’ll find pieces from the 4th millennium B.C. through the eighteenth century- something for everyone. I personally adored the room containing the Lombard King Desiderio’s cross embellished with 212 precious gemstones.
The Tosio Martinengo Art Gallery is one of the most important in northern Italy with paintings from the Gothic period to the early nineteenth century. At its heart is the impressive collection of Brescian Renaissance painters such as Savoldo, Romanino, and Moretto, from the private collection of Count Paolo Tosio and, later, of Francesco Leopardo Martinengo.
If so far you have chosen to take my advice on this one-day itinerary in Brescia, the journey continues either on the bus or on foot uphill to the castle. The panorama at sunset from the top is spectacular. Inside this fourteenth-century keep you’ll also find the Luigi Marzoli Weapons Museum and the Leonessa d’Italia Museum of the Risorgimento period. The latter recalls the “Ten Days of Brescia” which, following the insurrection against the Habsburg Empire on 23 March 1849, proved the city’s courage earning it the title of “Lioness of Italy”. The celebrated poet Giosuè Carducci writes about it in his Odi Barbare (Barbarian Odes, 1877).
Brescia the strong, Brescia the iron-handed,
Drenched in the blood of her enemies, Brescia the lioness of Italy.
are you ready to go?
If you’re not in a hurry and decide to stay for several days to see the surroundings, make sure and order Brescia’s signature aperitif, the Pirlo, made from Campari, white wine, a splash of seltzer, and a lemon or lime wedge). The historical Carmine district is a great place to find a restaurant and is where Brescia’s younger generation hangs out.
I also recommend taking advantage of the combined tickets which allow access to several museums, but regardless, there are numerous discounts for university students, schools, and groups. Finally, if you do not qualify for any of the discounts listed above, consider buying the Brescia Card which, for just €18, allows you to enter many museums and use public transport.
About the Author
Born in 1997, I am a girl who lives and works between Vercelli and Turin but as soon as I can, I leave for the weekend. There is never enough time to see this immense world full of adventures just waiting to be experienced!
Following the Covid epidemic restrictions and the limitations I experienced while traveling in France, my passion for travel grew immensely.
I’m a fairly calm person but I have never been able to stay in one place for very long. Rather than sitting under a beach umbrella, I’d much prefer exploring different beaches, art cities, and small villages.