There’s more to Italy than Milan, Rome, Venice and Tuscany. Once thought of as simply a “pass-through” city, Brescia offers a lot for visitors interested in “off the beaten path” travel — as I would find out:
In This Italy Article You Will Discover:
- The Hidden Gems of Lombardy
- Five Reasons to Visit Brescia
- Where to Find the Oldest Ruins in Northern Italy
I loved my time in Brescia. It is truly an “off-the-radar” Northern Italian city with a great deal to offer the traveller. Somewhat ironically, the fact that most people skip Brescia is what allows the city to keep its charm. As an added plus, Brescia is only a couple hour’s drive from Milan, and is a great crossroads to jaunt into Tuscany or head to Verona or Venice. Here are my Top Five Picks for a Brescia Vacation:
The Museum of Santa Giulia (City Museum)
This museum is one of Northern Italy’s cultural gems. Built out of an eighth-century monastery, today the museum has an amazing 11,000-plus item collection spanning over 12,000 square metres. Artifacts from prehistory, antiquity, the Lombard and the Carolingian Age and Venetian ages can be found within the ancient walls. It is a wonderful museum, and can take nearly a full day to explore.
Outdoor Cafes & Shopping
Brescia is not a town that relies on the tourism dollar — unlike Rome, Verona or Venice. Basic Italian will help you a great deal when you shop and dine throughout the city — and shop and dine you will!
Cafes, nightclubs and restaurants — most with streetside patios — line the downtown core, and shopping abounds.
Just be aware most shops close for lunch, and if you even consider buying counterfeit goods from shady street vendors, your risk arrest yourself. Northern Italian cuisine is rich with butter sauces, famous for risotto and beef, and meals are often started with prosciutto and mozzarella and last into the late hours. Come hungry.
Castello di Brescia (Brescia Castle)
The powerful Visconti family built this fortress, perched strategically on a hilltop, in the middle ages, using the remains of a Roman Temple-turned Christian Church. The site of famous sieges and battles, today, the Castello di Brescia is a wonderful free tourist attraction that allows visitors a great look into medieval Roman times. Sculpture, intricate stonework, interpretive displays and even a nice outdoor café make for a great day.
The Museum of Ancient Arms
Dedicated to the man who donated much of the collected, Luigi Marzoli, the Museum of Ancient Arms is chock-full of arms from the 13th to 15th century. Located inside the Castello di Brescia, armour, swords, axes, shields — even firearms are on display. It’s a great taste of the Roman Empire, post antiquity and pre-Renaissance – a period that rarely gets enough attention.
Oldest Ruins in Northern Italy
Wandering through the cobblestone streets of Brescia, one stumbles across some of the oldest Roman ruins in Northern Italy. They appear out of nowhere, surrounded unassumingly by domiciles and storesfronts. The most famous of the ruins are the remains of the Roman Capitolium, which is about 2,000 years old. In fact, many buildings in the city were constructed when townspeople pillaged these sites centuries ago, so in actual fact, Roman remains exist everywhere you look.