Brescia, Lombardy, Exploring Italy, Brèsa, Lombardia, Italiana, Italia

Brescia, Lombardy – Exploring Italy

Brescia is a city in the Italian region of Lombardy. Another name for the city is its Lombard version Brèsa. It lies in the northern part of Italy near the two lakes of Iseo and Garda. Neighboring towns are Bergamo to the west and Verona to the east. With a population of around 200.000 inhabitants, this is the second largest city in Lombardy, quite far behind the region’s main city Milan.

While there are several historical and cultural sights to discover, this city is mainly industrial. The main focus has been on metallurgy and the manufacturing of products such as machine tools and firearms. One of the best-known local companies is most likely the firearm manufacturer Beretta.

Our Visit to Brescia

We visited Brescia in 2016. We were staying a few days in Bergamo and headed out on a day trip to Brescia and Verona.

A Short History

Brescia has a long history. During the Roman era, the city was known by its Latin name Brixia. It became a part of the Roman Empire in the year 225 BC. Over the coming centuries, the city saw many wars and conflicts, even being besieged by Atilla and his Huns. It was in the year 568 that the city was conquered by the Lombards. The city would, however, change hands several more times and see the rule of empires such as the Venetians, the French, the Austrians, and even the Kingdom of Sardinia.

The city’s cultural history has one major period. It all circles around the violin. Brescia was according to old documents home to a school for string players and makers from 1490 up until 1640. This was during a period when the city was considered to be one of the wealthiest cities in Lombardy. Its wealth did, however, never recover from the time of the French massacre of the city in 1512. The recovery of the city was not helped by a lightning strike in 1769. The lightning hit a large gunpowder storage and the following explosion destroyed a large part of the city and killed thousands.

Things to Do and See

Brescia’s city center includes both more modern pedestrian areas, but also many hsitorical sights. Climbing the hill to the castle migh be challanging on a hot summer day, but the view is a great reward. This is afterall, a city where Roman remains stands as neighbour to medieval and more moddern structurs.

Castello di Brescia

Brescia Castle is probably the most prominent sight that you will encounter in the city. This medieval castle is located on the hill Colle Cidneo. The castle with its walls and towers is impressive and so is the view of the city with the rooftops of the buildings far below.

Brixia Romana

Brixia Romana is the archeological area of the city. The area has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2011 and includes several remains from the Roman times. Here you will find the Republican Sanctuary, the Capitolium, as well as the Roman Theatre.

Piazza della Loggia

Piazza della Loggia is the main square of the city. It is also known by the names Piazza Grande and Piazza Vecchia. At the center of the square stands the impressice Palazzo della Loggia dating back to the end of the 15th century.

The square was sadly also the location of the Piazza della Loggia Bombing in 1974. This was a terrorist attack targeting an anti-fascist protest on the square. The attack killed eight people and wounded another 102.

Piazza della Vittoria

Piazza della Vittoria was completed in 1932 and replaced what was fomerly a medieval part of the city. It is today sorrounded by several prominent buildings including the post and telegraph building.

Piazza Paolo VI

Piazza Paolo VI is one of the more picturesque squesrs in the city. It is also known by the name Piazza del Duomo, a name given due to the square being home to two of the cities domes. This is where you will find both the old and the new cathedral. The square is today named after Pope Paul VI.

Duomo Nuovo

The Duomo Nuovo, or the New Cathedral isone of the buildings at the Piazza Paolo VI. The cathedral was build right next to the old one. Construction begun in 1604 and was complted in 1914. Its formal name is the Cattedrale Estiva di Santa Maria Assunta.

Duomo Vecchio

Duomo Vecchio is the old cathedral of Brescia. Its official name is the Concattedrale Invernale di Santa Maria Assunta, but it is also simply known as “La Rotonda“. It is believed that the cathedral dates back to the 11th century.

How to Get to Brescia

  • Flights: The closest major airport is Milan Bergamo Airport (BGY), located a short distance to the west of the city.
  • Car: Brescia lies at the intersection of the roads A4, A35, and E70, with Bergamo and Milan to the west, Cremona to the south and Verona to the east.
  • Train: There are several regional and domestic trains to and from Brescia. Destinations include places such as Bergamo, Milan, Venice, and Verona to mention a few.

The driving distance from 5 major Italian cities, according to Google Maps:

  • Rome – 553 kilometers (5 h 30 min)
  • Milan – 95 kilometers (1 h 5 min)
  • Venice – 181 kilometers (1 h 40 min)
  • Naples – 752 kilometers (6 h 40 min)
  • Palermo – 1445 kilometers (14 h 40 min)

Looking to Explore more of Italy and Europe?

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