Brescia & Hinterland
Brescia City of Art
Brescia is situated in the northern Padana plains, at the foot of Monte Maddalena and Cidneo hill.
The area is delimited: – in the north by the Brescian Prealpine range; – in the east by the Garda Prealpine range; – in the west by the Franciacorta district.
The historical centre of Brescia is enclosed by the walls erected during the Venetian rule and is overlooked by the Cidneo hill and Castle of Brescia in full view.
The city of Brescia is not far from Lake Garda and the other Alpine lakes Iseo and Idro.
Confining with Brescia are the districts of: Bovezzo, Castel Mella, Castenedolo, Cellatica, Collebeato, Concesio, Flero, Gussago, Nave, Rezzato, Roncadelle and San Zeno Naviglio.
Brescia was founded during the IV century BC with the settlement of the Insubri and Cenoman Gallic tribes. Between the III and II century BC the area came under the rule of the Roman Republic.
Between 402 and 493 Brescia suffered numerous invasions by barbarians. It was precisely during one of these invasions that Brescia became important for the reign of the Ostrogoths.
From 568 onwards it became an important Duchy under Longobard rule and in 1860 it was annexed to the Reign of Italy.
The Castle of Brescia
The oldest part of the city grew up around the Cidneo hill, where the Castle of Brescia stands majestically in the midst of splendid greenery. The castle is one of the most fascinating fortresses to be found in Italy.
Already the backdrop for the famous “Ten Days” of Brescia, the Castle nowadays offers visitors a number of evocative paths and hidden niches, as well as a sequence of gardens and winding avenues, on their way from Piazzetta Tito Speri in the old town, through Contrada Sant’Urbano to the top of the hill.
The Castle also houses two museums:
Il Museo delle Armi
Housed in the keep, this is one of the richest collection of arms in Europe (sidearms, firearms and armour), classified in distinct sectors according to type and era.
Il Museo del Risorgimento
The museum dedicated to the Risorgimento is housed in the vast rooms of the Grande Miglio, the massive 16th century building erected by the Venetian government as a Granary. The museum contains numerous paintings, hundreds of prints and proclamations, uniforms, manuscripts and relics evoking historical events from the French Revolution to the taking of Rome.
Museo della Città Santa Giulia
Unique in Italy and in Europe for its conception and layout, the City Museum is housed in a monastic complex of Longobard origin. Covering about 14,000 square metres, it offers a journey through the history, art and spirituality of Brescia from prehistoric times to the present day.
Female monastery of Benedictine rule.
The Benedictine nuns’ convent encloses historical memories stratified over the centuries and is a continual source of surprising discoveries, a visible entwining of eras. Built over a site already occupied in Roman times by an important Domus, it includes the Longobard basilica dedicated to San Salvatore and its crypt, the Romanic Santa Maria in Solario oratory, the Nuns’ Chorus (Coro delle Monache), the 16th-century church of Santa Giulia and the cloisters.
An area destined, therefore, almost by vocation, to house the City Museum, the starring point on any itinerary when visiting Brescia.
Built to satisfy the wish of emperor Vespasiano in 73 AD, the Capitolium was a place of worship and the symbol of ancient Brixia. The building is flanked by the remains of the Roman theatre, stage for performances and public meetings. The archaeological area occupied by these buildings is considered one of the most significant and best conserved in northern Italy.
The Forum, standing opposite the Capitolium in the same square, was Brixia’s trading centre and market. Surrounded by porticos shading many shops, the forum was bordered in the north by the Decumano Massimo, dominated by the imposing architecture of the Capitolium, and by the Basilica in the south.
Palazzo Martinengo da Barco
Situated in Piazza Moretto, it houses the Civic Gallery, founded in 1908 thanks to the union of the two galleries opened thanks to inheritances from Count Paolo Tosio (1844) and Count Francesco Leopardo Martinengo (1883).
The itinerary takes visitors through twenty-five rooms where they can admire collections of true and proper masterpieces dating from the XIII to the XVIII century, placing Brescia in the forefront, not only in Italy, with regard to ancient art, starting from the incomparable beauty of paintings by Raffaello Sanzio and Lorenzo Lotto.