Lombardy’s second city boasts a rich artistic heritage. From Roman temples to the triumphalist Mussolini-era main square completed in 1932, Piazza Vittoria, there is plenty to see.
The Roman ruins around Piazza del Foro, featuring the first-century Capitolium with its three-chambered Capitoline temple and theatre, are some of the best preserved in Italy. The interactive museum at this site offers much to enjoy. The works of Raphael, Lorenzo Lotto, Tintoretto and local artists at the Pinacoteca Civica Tosio Martinengo
gallery provide a rich visual experience, as do the two contrasting cathedrals on Piazza Paolo VI: the fine 12th-century Duomo Vecchio (La Rotonda) and the Duomo Nuovo, built between 1604 and 1825, with its façades in both the baroque and rococo styles.
Instantly recognisable as METM17’s signature image, Piazza della Loggia, aka the market place, is named after the Renaissance loggia designed by Palladio and Sansovino; its discreetly splendid clock tower is 16th century. Titian enthusiasts might like to visit the 18th-century church of San Mazaro e San Celso on Via Bronzoni to admire the altarpiece by the great artist.
The UNESCO-listed Santa Giulia City Museum
takes you through Brescia’s art, history and spirituality from prehistory to the present day. Evocatively set in the eighth-century San Salvatore monastery, the complex was originally built over the ruins of impressive Roman town houses, several of which have now been excavated and may be visited from within the museum. King Alfred the Great is reputed to have visited the monastery as a child in 853 on his way to Rome, where he was confirmed by Pope Leo IV. To whet your appetite, take a spectacular 360° virtual tour
of the monastery and other local monuments.
A stroll up to Brescia castle
on Cidneo Hill is de rigueur, not least for the fine views over the city. The tower, the central keep, and the impressive battlemented walls were built by the Visconti dynasty, while the massive ramparts and monumental entrance are testimony to the power exerted over the city for over 400 years by the Venetian Republic.
For something a little different, try a tour of underground Brescia
and the rivers and millraces coursing beneath the city’s streets and houses, or explore the history of one of the great classic car races at the Mille Miglia museum
Getting around town
This handy guide to Brescia’s bus and metro services
including maps, prices and timetables will help you put your best foot forward and make the most of what Brescia has to offer.
In the surrounding area
If you fancy making a week of your METM17 trip, you’re spoilt for choice. Brescia is within easy reach of Verona (40 min by train, singles from €7), Bergamo (1 hr, €5), Cremona (1 hr, €5) and Milan (35–65 min, €7).
To relax after the intense conference experience, the tranquil delights of Lakes Iseo and Garda (15 min, €3) are close at hand, as is the Franciacorta wine region, which has DOCG status for its sparkling wines and the DOC appellation for its red and white still wines. Tours are available at several wineries, including Berlucchi
And as if all that were not enough, one of the world’s great destinations – La Serenissima, Venice herself – is just a 100-minute train ride away.
Photo credits and copyright: Archivio Fotografico del Comune di Brescia