Things to see in Brescia - What to see in Brescia







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Things to see - What to see in Brescia            (Back to Brescia main information page)  

Brescia's centre is grouped around the four piazzas beyond the main Corso Palestro. In Piazza del Mercato there is a nice weekday market, a supermarket, and small shops selling local salamis and cheeses under the porticoes. Piazza della Vittoria is a typical reminder of the Fascist regime, laid out in the austerity of Piacentini's gleaming marble rectangles, a perfect example of the period rather severe monumentalism. The arcades, boutiques, gelaterie and pasticcerie ensure that the square is well frequented during the typical Italian passeggiata.

Brescia's prettiest square, is Piazza della Loggia, dating back to the XV century. The Venetian influence is clearest in the fancily Loggia and in the Torre dell'Orologio, with its exquisite astrological timepiece modelled on the campanile in Venice's Piazza San Marco.

In the northeast corner is the Porta Bruciata, a defensive medieval tower-gate.

Piazza Paolo VI is one of the few squares in Italy to have two cathedrals, the old XI century Duomo vecchio or Cathedral of the Rotonda, a rare example of a circular-plan Romanesque Basilica built of local stone with fragmentary floor mosaics and interior glass set into the transept pavement revealing the remains of Roman baths and the apse of an VIII century basilica. Most interesting is the fine and elaborated red marble sarcophagus of Berardo Maggi, a XIII century Bishop of Brescia. The Duomo nuovo dating from 1604 dwarfs its ancient neighbour. Also in the square is Il Broletto, the medieval town hall with an XI century tower.

Behind Piazza del Duomo, Via Mazzini leads to the magnificent Via dei Musei, along which lie the remains of the Roman town of Brixia, the most important monument being the Tempio Capitolino, a Roman temple built by Vespasiano in 73 AD. Behind the temple are three reconstructions probably temples to the Capitoline trinity of Jupiter, Juno and Minerva, which now house fragments of carved funerary monuments and mosaic pavements.

The Palazzo Martinengo, opposite the Chiesa di San Zeno di Foro (Piazza del Foro), is the majestic host to contemporary art exhibitions. Also along via dei Musei, there is a well preserved Roman Theatre.

Undoubtedly Brescia most intriguing site is the Abbey of San Salvatore e Santa Giulia from the VIII century is one of the oldest monuments of the city. Inside, there are three churches, the oldest being San Salvatore , whose present structure dates back to the XII century but includes the remains of an original crypt built in 762 to house the relics of St Julia. Santa Maria in Solario, built in the XII century as a private chapel for the Benedictine nuns who lived at the abbey, is covered in frescoes painted mainly by Floriano Ferramola during the early 16th century. Those in the central apse show the marriage of St Catherine to the baby Jesus, a clear reference to the nuns' spiritual marriage to God. The late XVI century church of Santa Giulia does contain further frescoes by Ferramola.

The complex also houses the Civic Museum, including a Roman museum full of jewellery, glassware, sculptures and bronzes, fragments of wonderful mosaic pavements and a life-sized winged Victory. Exhibitions at the museum of Christian art include IV century an ivory reliquary chest carved with lively biblical scenes and a VIII century Croce del Desiderio, a crucifix presented to the convent by Desiderius, King of the Lombards, made of wood and silver and encrusted with over two hundred gems and cameos. There are also remains of the Byzantine Basilica of San Salvatore and the ones of a Roman villa, which have been found under a large part of the abbey.

Up to the Colle Cidneo (Hill of Cidneo), the core of early Roman Brixia, there are a few fragments of a gate and two beautiful historical monuments, a XVI century church of San Pietro in Oliveto, surrounding by olive growing and Brescia?s Castle, the core of the city defence for centuries and monument to Brescia's various overlords, built in the XV century by Luchino Visconti with some Venetians, French and Austrians features added over the years. The Castle holds a complex of museums including Italy's largest Museum of Arms with its extensive collection of weaponry, the Museo del Risorgimento dedicates to the history of the Italian unification, and a model Railway museum.

Brescia's main art gallery, the Pinacoteca Tosio-Martinengo consists of collections of the works of minor local artists, including a beautiful black Sant'Apollonia by Vincenzo Foppa, a "Nativity" and "Town and Province", and the XVII century realist paintings of Ceruti, who, unusually for his time, specialized in painting the poor .




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