Brescia is both in population and influence the second largest city in Lombardy after Milan. Its location, along the road between Milan and Venice, plays an important role in this, as does the large number of iron mines in the area. It is the capital of the province of the same name.
Brescia travel guide
The city has two tourist information offices. The Infopoint Stazione, as its name suggests, is located in the city’s main railway station (Viale della Stazione 56; tel +39 030 8378559; Monday to Sunday from 09:00 to 13:00 and from 13:30 to 17:30). The second office is located at Piazza della Loggia, 13/b (tel +39 030 2400357; Monday to Saturday from 09.30 to 18.30 and Sundays and holidays from 10.00 to 18.00).
A brief history of Brescia
The name of the town is derived from the Celtic Brixia, meaning “hill” or “height”. The first inhabitants were the Ligurians, who thus preceded the Romans. In the 4th century BC it became an important settlement of the Gallic tribe of the Cenomani. An alliance with the Romans followed a century later. The Romans granted the population city rights in the 1st century BC. In the year 49 BC it became an independent municipality, proclaimed Colonia Civica by Augustus, meaning that everyone living in the city was a Roman citizen.
After being conquered by the barbarians, it was a Longobard duchy between the 6th and 8th centuries. In the 12th century Brescia was granted city rights, which the city was forced to defend against imperial troops.
Still later, the city was subjugated by various rulers, including the Visconti. From the 15th to the 18th century, Brescia was under the authority of Venice. After this the city joined the Cisalpine Republic, then the Italian Empire and in 1815 Austria.
From March 23 to April 1, 1849, a popular uprising against the Austrians took place, known as the 10 Giornate di Brescia (“10 Days of Brescia”). The heroism with which they fought earned the city the nickname “Lioness of Italy”.
What to see in Brescia
The two most important buildings from Roman times are the Capitolium and the Teatro Romano.
The San Salvatore Basilica dates back to the Middle Ages, while the Duomo Vecchio (“Old Cathedral”) and the Palazzo del Broletto represent Romanesque architecture. The Duomo Nuovo (“New Cathedral”) was built in the 17th century. The Santa Giulia Monastery is on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
The current version of the Castle, from which one can enjoy a beautiful view, also dates from that era.
The Palazzo Martinengo da Barco was erected in the 16th century on a building from the 14th century. Other interesting attractions include the fortifications and the Piazza della Loggia.
The Tosio Martinengo Pinacotheque is the city’s main museum.