Have you decided to spend a weekend in Brescia? Here is a two-day itinerary to discover the city and the most important monuments.
To start your weekend getaway, we recommend a stroll in the old centre to visit the main squares and most significant monuments. The ideal starting point, irrespective of your means of transportation, is Piazza Vittoria: located in the heart of the city, it has an underground parking lot and is served by the city light rail system. After admiring the square’s Neoclassical buildings dating from the Fascist era, head to Piazza Loggia, whose name comes from the namesake palace.
The current seat of the Municipal Council, Loggia is a Renaissance-style palace mostly built using Botticino marble, a renowned local stone, used also in other well-known constructions around the world: Altare della Patria in Rome, the White House in Washington, DC, and the Statue of Liberty in New York City. Opposite the Loggia, Torre dell’Orologio (Clock Tower) is another symbol of Brescia’s artistic heritage.
The square is also an open air epigraphic museum: on the southern side stands the old Monte di Pietà (pawnshop), whose main façade is decorated with several Roman-age gravestones. After admiring the monument to Bella Italia, continue toward Piazza Paolo VI along Vicolo Beccaria, the most romantic alley in the city centre.
Brescia is the only Italian city with two cathedrals in the same square. Erected in two different epochs, they stand side by side and are clearly identifiable by their distinctive architectural styles.
Duomo Vecchio, also known as Rotunda, dates from the XI century; Duomo Nuovo, built between 1600 and 1800, is the mother church of Brescia’s Diocesis. Near the two churches stands Torre del Pegol, a tower belonging to Palazzo Broletto. This building today hosts the Provincial offices. In the past, it was an orchard and garden, called brolo, from which the modern name derives. Every Saturday morning, it is possible to meet in Piazza Paolo VI to join a guided tour of the city of Brescia.
Saturday in Brescia is market day: the old centre fills up with stalls selling traditional and artisanal products. If you are interested in shopping while in Brescia, the city centre is a treasure trove of antique shops, haute-couture boutiques, and book stores.
For lunch, pick one of the traditional restaurants in the old centre. Brescia boasts the European Region of Gastronomy 2017 recognition for the quality of its rich food&wine offering. You can’t miss Brescia’s traditional dishes!
The Santa Giulia complex deserves a visit: it is the City Museum and in 2011 was recognized by UNESCO as one of the most important Lombard monumental sites in all Italy. The museum displays encompass several centuries, from Domus dell’Ortaglia houses and frescoes from the Roman Age to jewelery and the marvelous King Desiderius Cross from the Lombard domination.
The UNESCO site Longobards in Italy. Places of Power (568-774 A.D.) also includes Roman Brixia Archaeological Park. Composed of the Capitolium Temple, a theatre, a Republican Sanctuary and a Basilica, it is the largest Roman archaeological area in northern Italy. The site is in Piazza del Foro, the ancient heart of the city’s commercial activities. Since November 2020, the statue of the Winged Victory, after a two-year restoration at Opificio delle Pietre Dure in Florence, has been placed in the new museum display created by Spanish architect Juan Navarro Baldeweg, inside the Capitolium Temple (the place where the statue was found).
We also recommend a visit to Palazzo Martinengo Cesaresco. This noble mansion overlooking piazza del Foro every year hosts exclusive temporary exhibitions of internationally renowned artists. The palace also offers an underground archaeological itinerary and an all-immersion multimedia display, Brixia Light Box.
At the end of the visit, take a break to enjoy Pirlo, Brescia’s signature aperitif, which was celebrated by the New York Times as the “coolest aperitif ever.”
What to do in Brescia at night? Brescians love to have fun on Saturday night. There are numerous nightlife spots in the city.
You can end your day with grandeur at the main city theatre: opera, ballet, concerts, dance, and special projects await you at Teatro Grande di Brescia.
Brescia is a never-ending surprise: the city centre also boasts the second main theatre, charming Teatro Sociale, a solid alternative for those who love classic and contemporary dramatic productions.
In the morning, walk up to the top of Cidneo hill, from where Brescia’s Castle dominates the whole city. It is an old medieval fortress which today hosts several cultural sites which complete the cultural itinerary of this city of art. The castle also hosts an astronomical observatory and Luigi Marzoli Arms Museum, one of the richest collections of ancient arms and armours in Europe. At the foot of the castle lies Pusterla vineyard, the oldest and largest urban vineyard in Europe.
For lunch, try a typical trattoria in the old centre and enjoy Brescia’s traditional products. Do you know them all?
Spend the afternoon visiting some of Brescia’s churches like San Giovanni Evangelista, San Francesco, San Nazaro and Celso – all true treasure troves. You can combine the church visit with a stop at Diocesan Museum in the cloister of the Monastery of San Giuseppe, just steps from Piazza Loggia.
If you are an adventure lover, you have to try the experience which will lead you under Brescia’s surface with Brescia Underground: guided tours of the city’s hidden depths alond old rivers, undergrounds canals and stream runnings under our feet.
Here are some places of interest near the city centre, and their websites:
Follow these accessible itineraries to visit the city of Brescia without architectural barriers.