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***Brescia is among the most prominent cities in northern Italy (that no one has ever visited). Located within its extended industrial area, the historic center is astonishingly full of impressive monuments, each with its own charm. We give it major points for epic architecture and the best armory and best Roman museum we’ve ever seen. This is a post-industrial powerhouse at the foot of the Alps, best known for heavy industry and successful manufacturers such as the Beretta firearms factory. The Romans, who established their first northern colony here in 27BC, called it Brixia. 

Hotel:

  • There’s a shocking lack of hotels in Brescia, and those that are here are rather sad. *Hotel Vittoria, Via X Giornate, 20 is the obvious choice for location. Our room was truly fabulous (Room 400, Suite Leonessa). Everything else about the hotel is falling apart and under-staffed, a bit grim.

Food:

Note that this isn’t really a “foodie” town yet and everything is of the “just okay” variety.

  • **Osteria Al Bianchi: a local landmark dating back to the late 1800s. It’s super local, massively overlit, quite affordable. Food was perhaps a bit too authentic for us, but it was a good experience.
  • **Ristorante Antico Beccaria: the nicest place we saw in town – great interior. Food was fine.
  • There’s an especially darling little bar on Via Trieste at Via Mazzini that’s worth seeking out. Doesn’t show up on google maps.

Links:

Sites:

  • The ***Unesco Museums, collectively the best Roman museum complex I’ve ever seen, which include:
    • ***Capitolium: Here lies one of the oldest Roman ruins in Italy and a definite must-see. Built around 73 A.D, the Capitolium was restored during the second quarter of the 20th century. The temple was linked to the rest of the Roman Forum by two rows of arcades. You can explore under it and the ruins of the colosseum next door.
    • ***Museo di Santa Giulia: This museum complex is another UNESCO World Heritage site that is absolutely worth a visit, set within a combination of religious buildings, including the eight-century Church of San Salvatore, the 12th-century Church of Santa Maria in Solario, the 15th-century nuns’ choir, and the 16th-century Church of Santa Giulia. Archaeological artifacts offer a chance to discover Brescia’s past, from more than 5000 years ago. Monumental architecture from long-ago periods will fascinate art lovers, and beautiful frescoes, mosaics, and thousands of other works of art are also exhibited within the museum. It’s a huge collection.
  • ***Piazza della Loggia: Leave behind ancient and medieval constructions and spot Renaissance style in this gorgeous square. The wonderfully proportioned Palazzo della Loggia, which is the Town Hall today, is the most remarkable sight of the piazza. Andrea Palladio, a famous Italian architect, was one of the supervisors of its construction in the 16thcentury. The Clock Tower consisting of a mechanical clock is in the center of a two-story classical arcade. Zodiac signs are among the decoration on the enormous clock. On another side of the square lies the old and new Monte di Pieta. The former was built in the 15th century while the latter was finished in the next century. The ornate old Monte di Pieta showcases a graceful loggia in the ground level. The piazza is an ideal place to observe delicate Renaissance architectural details. 
  • ***Piazza Paolo VI: Distinct religious buildings can be viewed at the same time in this square, as the Old (Duomo Vecchio) and the New (Duomo Nuovo) Cathedrals are positioned side by side. With a peculiarly circular shape, the old, 11th-century church generates astonishment in spite of its humble appearance. There used to be an even older basilica before this church in the same place. Possessing the second tallest dome in the whole Italy, the splendid New Cathedral’s construction began in the 17th-century, and it took approximately 220 years to finish. In addition to these two churches, Broletto, the medieval Town Hall, is also on this square. 
  • There are about 5000 other churches in the area, too many to mention but all pretty epic.
  • ***Castello di Brescia: a short, steep walk up to the hill in the center of town. This site is perhaps the oldest in the city, where the Romans settled. The highlight is the ***Armory Museum, which is the best I’ve ever seen (in particular the armor). Note that views are not especially great from the castle, blocked by trees.
  • Next time! http://www.bresciaunderground.com (spring and summer only)
  • Next time! Biblioteca Queriniana: one option was to tag along so I could scopeout this 18th-century library’s intimate Rococo reading room and marvel at its most vaunted possession, a sixth-century gospel manuscript written in silver ink on purple dyed vellum known as the Evangeliario Purpureo.
  • **Museo Mille Miglia: The Museo Mille Miglia is an automobile museum founded on 10 November 2004 at the initiative of the Automobile Club of Brescia and of some private enthusiasts of the famous Mille Miglia race. It is located in the ancient monastery of St. Euphemia in Via delle Rimembranze in Brescia, and more precisely on the outside of the neighborhood is Saint Euphemia. Worth a very quick stop if you’re a car fan. Not a particularly notable museum.

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