Things to see -
What to see in Brescia
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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
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
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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