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Luftaufnahme von Brixia, Archäologischer Park des römischen Brescia, Bild: Archivio Fotografico Civici Musei di Brescia – Fondazione Brescia Musei

Brescia: historic city in Lombardy

Brescia is the second largest city in Lombardy in Italy with just under 200,000 inhabitants and is known for its picturesque old town. Parts of this old town are UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The surrounding area of the Italian city also offers some exciting excursion destinations with Lake Garda and a famous wine-growing region. The culinary delights of northern Italy, warm hosts and the mild climate round off the advantages of Brescia as a travel destination.

Holidays in Brescia: How to get there, climate and accommodation

Statue of Winged Victory, East Hall of the Capitol
Statue of the Winged Victory, eastern hall of the Capitol, Image: Fondazione Brescia Musei – Photo A. Chemollo

It is possible to travel to Brescia by car, but a correspondingly long journey time must be planned. If you want to travel by car, you should plan a stopover with an overnight stay in order to arrive at your holiday destination as relaxed as possible. It is more convenient and much faster to travel by plane. There are several destination airports near Brescia to choose from. They are located in Verona, Bergamo and Milan. From there, you can continue your journey to Brescia by rental car. The best time to travel is between June and November. If you want to escape the high temperatures of summer, plan your trip for September or October. In May, some rainy days are to be expected on site, which limits the possibilities of vacationing. Brescia offers hotels of all price ranges, cheap guesthouses and holiday apartments with plenty of space for holidaymakers. They are located both in the old town area, which is popular with holidaymakers, and in the quiet outskirts of Brescia.

What to see in Brescia

A good starting point for sightseeing in Brescia is Duomo Square. It is centrally located in the old town and offers three important sights. The Old Cathedral and the New Cathedral are located on it. The sacred buildings form the historical backdrop of the lively square. It is also home to Palazzo Broletto, with its 54-metre-high tower and the so-called Balcony of Screaming. Contemporary witnesses of the city’s much earlier history can be visited by holidaymakers at the archaeological excavation site of the Roman Forum. Here you can see remains of the Capitoline Temple and the Teatro Romano, which have been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Everywhere in the area of the old town, holidaymakers will also find cosy cafés, restaurants with regional cuisine and shops.

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Among the sacred buildings in Brescia worth seeing is the Old and New Cathedral as well as the Santa Maria delle Carità. This Gothic cathedral was built between the 16th and 19th centuries and delights with frescoes, elaborate paintings, the main altar and the chapel. By the way, the most beautiful square in Brescia is the Piazza della Loggia. It is located in the northwestern area of the old town and is lined with impressive Renaissance buildings. One of them is the Palazzo della Loggia as the former seat of government. Also worth seeing is the Torre dell’Orologio with the astronomical clock.

If you want to enjoy a magnificent view of the city and visit another historic building, you should visit the Castello di Brescia on the Colle Cidneo hill. This is a historic castle complex, which now houses a weapons museum, among other things. A park stretches around the castle, which offers comfortable seating and impressive views of the city of Brescia. Holidaymakers will not find a more beautiful place for a cosy picnic anywhere in Brescia.

Capital of Culture 2023

View of the West Hall of the Capitolium
View of the western hall of the Capitolium, Image: Fondazione Brescia Musei – Photo A. Chemollo

In 2023, Brescia will be the cultural capital of Italy together with Bergamo. As part of the programme of this year’s Italian Capitals of Culture, the Brescia Musei Foundation, together with the National Museum of Rome, presents an extraordinary new exhibition project: “Il Pugile e la Vittoria”, the pugilist from the National Roman Museum and the Winged Goddess of Victory, two unique bronze statues from the Hellenistic and Roman periods. Both statues, recently restored, will be on display together for the first time in Brescia at the Capitolium of Brixia, Roman Brescia Archaeological Park.

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The ambitious project will be presented to the public on 12 July and is another important step in the process of upgrading and transforming the archaeological site of Brixia Romana, promoted by the Brescia Musei Foundation, which began with the installation of the Winged Goddess of Victory in the Capitolium. The 200th anniversary of the excavations, which brought to light the archaeological heritage of Brescia, gives the project additional importance.

Art and culture in Brescia

Probably the most famous museum of the Comune Brescia is the Museo di Santa Giulia, which is spread over several historic buildings. The highlights here are a magnificently decorated cross, which once belonged to the Lombard king Desiderius, the winged Vittoria Alata, the starry sky that can be admired in the Chiesa di Santa Maria in Solario and numerous frescoes.

In the basement of Palazzo Martinengo Cesaresco Novarino there is an archaeological museum with an attached art exhibition. Especially on hot summer days, a visit to the underground museum area is a welcome way to cool off. The Pinacoteca Tosio Martinengo is an art museum housed in a former palace of the Martinengo family. The exhibition shows works by important Italian painters from different eras. Fans of classic cars, on the other hand, should pay a visit to the Museo Mille Miglia. It owes its name to the famous thousand-mile race, which runs annually from Brescia to Rome and in which only classic cars built between 1927 and 1957 are allowed to participate. In the museum, visitors can learn more about the history of the legendary classic car race and marvel at some classic cars.

Tips for excursions from Brescia

Certainly the most popular excursion destination in the area around Brescia is Lake Garda. On the other hand, if you like it a little quieter, you can reach the tranquil Lake Iseo after about 25 minutes by car. From there, it is only a short detour to the well-known wine-growing region of Franciacorta, where some first-class wines and sparkling wines originate. The various winegrowers invite you to tastings and guided tours. Verona, with its historic old town and numerous leisure facilities, is also ideal for a day trip from Brescia.