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Photograph Roberto Ricca

Photograph Roberto Ricca

Photograph Roberto Ricca

Photography Amanda Robinson unless stated

Photograph Roberto Ricca

Photograph Roberto Ricca

D I S C O V E R I TA L I A !

Brescia
Amanda Robinson takes a pitstop in a city with an
outstanding heritage, great shopping and a relaxed ambience
a rich mix of old and new, just an hour from Milan

ne of the delights about il bel paese is the abundance of beautiful


vistas and outstanding locations waiting to be discovered off the
beaten track: and while Italia! Magazine is all about discovering
those secret corners of Italy, heres an absolute winner thats
hiding in plain sight, just off the A4 motorway en route from
Milan to Venice. If classic cars are your thing, then youd recognize the name of
Brescia instantly as the start and end point of the renowned Mille Miglia road
rally, but otherwise, chances are this destination probably hasnt registered on
your Italian cities to visit bucket list.
Sprawled on the broad Padano plain at the base of the Alps and bordered
on three sides by beautiful lakes of Garda, Iseo and Idra, prosperous Brescia is
set in a region of natural beauty. It is the second largest city in Lombardy, at the
intersection of two historic European corridors which connect France to Austria
(from west to east); and from north to south, the route from Germany and
central Europe to Rome. With our constant need to get from A to B, the city
literally gets passed on these busy intercity highways: but it is precisely Brescias
geographical location that has granted her an illustrious past and not one but
two UNESCO World Heritage sites.
Founded by the Gauls, this tribal settlement became Brixia, a key city of
the Roman Empire with a remarkably chequered history. Take a tour around the
town and youll find lots of impressive buildings and architecture wherever

Clockwise
from top left:
A prosciutto
bar; the Teatro
Grande; enjoying
life al fresco;
youll find some
great local
markets; the
region also
produces some
excellent wine;
and, of course,
Brescia is famous
for the Mille
Miglia; the Santa
Giulia museum;
a view across the
city at sunset

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D I S C O V E R I TA L I A !

WHAT TO SEE AND DO

WHERE TO STAY

Photograph Roberto Ricca

BRESCIATOURISM 1
Piazza del Vescovato, 3
% +39 030 240 0835
Fax: +39 030 377 2040
info@bresciatourism.it
www.bresciatourism.it
Youll get all the help you need from the
charming representatives of Bresciatourism.
As well as being very personable
themselves, their website is comprehensive
and full of itineraries, event details,
accommodation listings and helpful advice
to help you plan your visit to Brescia and
the lakes.

The remains of the


Capitoline Temple

Well-preserved
mosaic floors

SANTA GIULIA MUSEO DELLA CITT,


AND THE CAPITOLIUM 2
Via Musei 81/bis
% +39 030 297 7833-34
www.bresciamusei.com
The comprehensive umbrella site for all
the historic museums and monuments in
the area.

MUSEI MAZZUCCHELLI 3
Via G. Mazzucchelli, 2
25080 Ciliverghe di Mazzano
www.museimazzucchelli.it
www.museimazzucchelli.it/
evento-vintage/
Just 20 minutes drive from Brescia, this
elegant neo-Palladian villa houses not one
but three permanent antique collections
costume and fashion, household
memorabilia, and last but not least, a
museum dedicated to wine and the largest
collection of corkscrews youll ever see.
There is also a spectacular annual vintage
costume exhibition and sale (see website
for 2015 details). Open six days a week.
Tours available.

GOING UNDERGROUND 4
% +39 349 099 8697
% +39 030 353 2511
abinfo@hotmail.it
www.bresciaunderground.it
See Brescia from an entirely different
perspective the Brescia Underground
Association offers a range of fascinating
guided tours to discover what goes on
down underneath your feet. Follow the
ancient rivers and see other subterranean
evidence of the citys heritage now hidden
beneath the streets.

TEATRO GRANDE 5
C.so Zanardelli, 9
www.teatrogrande.it
Brescias opulent 17th-century Teatro
Grande is the sumptuous setting for an
opera season which runs throughout the
autumn and winter with a programme of
performances of classic operatic works from
Italy and beyond.

Early morning at the


Piazza della Loggia

DONT MISS
MILLE MIGLIA
With much
flourish and
fanfare, this
classic car rally
begins and ends in
Brescia. Its open
to vehicles built
between 1927 and
1957 and takes
place over three
days in May every
year, driving on
open roads to
Rome and back.
If you cant be
there in May, the
museum dedicated
to the race is
open all year
round. Discover
the history and
legends of the
rally and marvel
at the classic
cars and other
automotive
exhibits.
www.mille
miglia.it
www.museo
millemiglia.it

Whether youre a culture vulture,


interested in history, or prefer to soak
up the vibrant urban atmosphere from
the perspective of the many cafes,
high-fashion boutiques, antique shops
and fine restaurants dotted around
the elegant piazzas of the city, you are
spoilt for choice. Walking is the most
enjoyable way to experience the sights
of this compact city centre, but if you
wanted to travel further afield within
the city environs, its worth pointing
out the recently-built single line

The city has an attractive pedestrian zone


which makes exploring an utter delight
take you through centuries of history,
starting with Piazza Paolo VI, where
the medieval Broletto Palace stands;
as well as two cathedrals, the neoclassical New Cathedral and the 9th
century Rotunda or Duomo Vecchio.
Move on to Piazza della Loggia built
in the Renaissance, dominated by the
Loggia Palace and its ornate clock
tower, and finally to the 20th-century
Piazza della Vittoria, constructed in
the Fascist style.

metro (Metropolitana). Only opened


in 2013, it has 17 stops and runs from
5am in the morning to midnight, so
it really is a handy alternative when
youre planning your itineraries.
The wide medieval piazzas and
streets are all built around the original
Roman road system with the east to
west decumanus maximus (which is now
Via Musei) and north to south cardo
maximus, making it easy to get your
bearings. The best place to start your

exploration is the UNESCO-listed


Santa Giulia museum in via Musei: it
showcases some of the most important
artistic treasures from the citys long
history, including the bronze Winged
Victory statue, which is the symbol
of the city. This remarkable building
is on the site of the 8th-century
Benedictine San Salvatore convent as
well as the 12th-century Romanesque
church of Santa Maria in Solario and
the 16th-century Santa Giulia and
beneath all that ecumenical splendour
is the original archeology of a high
status Roman home. Strolling around
the partly excavated buildings youll
see well-preserved mosaic floors and
top of the range Roman plumbing
among other fascinating relics.
Youll get a great impression of just
how extensive and significant the
area was as, just alongside, sits the
centre of the Roman city and the
impressive remains of the Capitoline
Temple. Built by Vespasian between
73 and 74 AD, it lay hidden in the
kitchen gardens of a palazzo until
the 19th century. Even as a partial
restoration, the noble columns are a
magnificent sight, making even more
of an impact, towering over the more

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VILLA FENAROLI PALACE HOTEL 7


Via Giuseppe Mazzini, 14,
25086 Rezzato Brescia
+39 030 279 3223
www.villafenaroli.it
The 18th-century Villa Fenaroli Palace
is located outside Brescia and is in the
gracious Palladian style. There are 86
elegant rooms and suites of varying size
and tariff, some with private balcony or
view across the park. An ideal retreat if you
prefer somewhere to stay just outside the
city centre.
Rooms from 73

The bronze Winged


Victory statue

you turn, telling the tales of the rise


and fall of a succession of powers,
factions and families.
The city has an attractive
pedestrian zone at its heart, which
makes exploring an utter delight.
Head to the main tourist office in via
Trieste (theres also one at the station)
and there youll find no end of ideas to
get the most from your visit theres
more than enough to choose from if
youre only in the city for 48 hours. A
short stroll around the city centre will

HOTEL VITTORIA 6
Via X Giornate, 20
+39 030 280061
www.hotelvittoria.com
The elegant art nouveau-style Hotel Vittoria
is next to the Duomo Nuovo Cathedral in
the pedestrian centre of Brescia and just
200 metres from the Vittoria Metro Station.
Free internet connection. Enjoy drinks at
the Piano Bar, Italian and international
menu is available in the restaurant.
Rooms from 83

recent architecture and a modern road


around it. Finish off your morning
with a brisk walk to Brescia Castle, a
medieval fortress which dominates the
city on the summit of Cidneo Hill
its not too much of a climb and if its
a fine day youll be rewarded with fine
views over Brescia and beyond.
For the best retail therapy, head
to the area around the 15th century
Piazza della Loggia, where chic shoe
shops will vie with boutiques for your
attention, not forgetting the tempting
artisan bakers and pasticcerie of course.
The antique quarter is near via Trieste
and via Toso, and youll find several
vintage shops and art galleries along
the via Musei too. Along with the
weekly food market, the second
weekend of any month (except July
and August) sees the Mercantino
dellAntiquariato in full swing in the
porticos of Piazza della Vittoria. Its on
a grand scale and well worth a visit as
it attracts a large crowd of antique and
vintage vendors and buyers from far
and wide as well as loyal locals.
Youll eat delicious food wherever
you go in Italy, but the Brescia area
is blessed with an abundance of
tempting local produce and wines,

DONT MISS
CAMONICA
VALLEY
The Camonica
Valley has
one of the
worlds greatest
collections of
prehistoric
rock carvings.
The extent of
the carvings is
breathtaking
and certainly
worthy of
its UNESCO
World Heritage
status. Its also
a region of
natural beauty
with hiking and
biking trails,
national parks
and excellent
skiing in the
PontedilegnoTonale area to
the north.
www.valle
camonica
unesco.it

HOTEL AMBASCIATORI 8
Santa Maria Crocifissa Di Rosa, 92
+39 030 399114
www.ambasciatori.net
The modern 4-star Hotel Ambasciatori is
located just off one of the main routes into
the city, with a great view over the castle
and close to the metro for quick access to
the centro storico, piazzas, the castle and
museum. 66 rooms available. Free wi-fi and
a fitness room on the 7th floor.
Rooms from 73

ALBERGO OROLOGIO 9
Via C. Beccaria, 17
+39 030 375 5411
www.albergoorologio.it
Just an easy 15-minute walk from the
train station, the 3-star Albergo Orologio
is in the perfect spot for walking to all the
sights and museums in Brescias historic
centre. It offers a warm welcome with a
great breakfast and the cosy rooms are
comfortably furnished and clean.
Rooms from 71

IL SANTELLONE 10
Via del Santellone, 116/120
+39 030 373 2998
www.ilsantellone.it
If you want to try something that is more
of a getaway, check out the comfortable
resort hotel of Il Santellone, which is just a
few of miles from the city centre. A sauna,
spa and an indoor and outdoor pool will
ease away the stresses and strains of a
heavy days sightseeing.
Rooms from 91

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D I S C O V E R I TA L I A !

WHERE TO EAT

TRATTORIA AL FONTANONE 11
Via Musei 47/a
+39 030 40554
Youll find this rustic trattoria in a quiet
little corner on via Musei, just down from
the Capitolium Roman Temple. Fairly small
with a limited number of tables, it has a
cosy, homely ambience. Homemade pasta
and gnocchi.

Local fruit and veg

BUONISSIMO STORE (GOURMET STORE) 12


Corso Mameli, 23
+39 030 2802245
www.buonissimo-store.it
brescia@buonissimo-store.it
Dedicated to promote the excellence of
Italian food and wine, Buonissimo is a
one-stop shop for foodies. Youll find
groceries and other staples, as well as fine
local produce and wine. Practising what
it preaches, it has a caf and restaurant
with menus that reflect the very best of
seasonal and local produce and there is a
cookery school on the second floor.

TRATTORIA URBANA MANGIAFUOCO 13


Via Calzavella, 3a
+39 030 293029
www.trattoriamangiafuoco.it
Located near Piazza Vittoria, this friendly
trattoria serves traditional Brescian dishes
and has a short but excellent wine list of
Lombardian wines. Delicious local products,
the fare is simple, rich and very good.
Homemade casoncelli, and meat lovers
should try the ox cheek casserole.

SOLIVE 14
Via Calvarole, 15
25030 Nigoline di Corte Franca
+39 030 988 4201
www.solive.it
Nestling among vineyards and rose
gardens, Solive agriturismo has a busy
restaurant and six rooms, Many of the
ingredients and products come from
Solive like the cured pork, meat, oils
and homemade desserts. These are
accompanied by local delicacies such as
olives, grapes and chestnuts.

Guinea-fowl and calfs


liver for sale

10

RESTAURANT LA SOSTA 15
Via S. Martino della Battaglia, 20
+39 030 295603
www.lasosta.it
Gracious and particular surroundings of the
old stables (check out the ceilings), the
food is elegant and tasty, with emphasis
on seasonality and local provenance.
Delicious fine dining menu with dishes
including lake fish from the nearby waters.

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Map data 2015 Google

The Villa Mazzucchelli

DONT MISS
BAGOLINO
CARNIVAL
Witness the
amazing spectacle
of this 300-year
old carnival
through the
town of Bagolino
every year on
the Monday and
Tuesday before
Lent. Expect
a procession
of traditional
costumes and
a colourful
celebration of
ancient dances
and music.
www.bagolino
info.it

thanks to its varied geography and


micro climates. Pasta lovers should
seek out casoncelli the regional
variation on ravioli, with a herbinfused meaty filling wrapped in the
finest twists of golden pasta and served
with melted butter and a drizzle of
peppery olive oil. If youve a taste
for cheese, dont miss the pungent
Bagss from nearby Bagolino which is
delicious served with chutney or in the
regional cheese fondue. Youll eat well
in the town, from the fine dining style
of restaurants like Michelin-starred
La Sosta, whose lake fish menu is
outstanding, or the more rustic fare of
trattorie like Urbana Mangiafuoco. You
will never taste an ox cheek casserole
so rich and tender not surprising
considering that the chefs simple
recipe uses two litres of red wine to
one kilo of meat, simply slow cooked
for a minimum of eight hours
Last, but certainly not least,
Buonissimo in Corso Manelli is the
local mecca for all things foodie a
supermarket at first glance, just go
downstairs and you will find a wellfrequented caf and restaurant that
serve traditional dishes, as well as a
mouthwatering deli, fresh fish and

meat counters, plus a wide array of


outstanding, locally produced wines.
When it comes to wines, the
region produces very drinkable
reds, whites and ross. The region
of Franciacorta just outside Brescia,
has 20,000 hectares of vineyards.
The jewel in the crown is a delicately
sparkling wine which takes its name
from the region. Not to be confused
with Italys other popular sparkler,
prosecco, Franciacorta is produced by
the mthode champenoise, creating a
more subtle mousse and crisp, biscuity
flavour. Follow the meandering Strada
del Vino dei Colli Longobardi wine
trail through the area to discover this
exquisite wine for yourself. The Solive
winery nestling in the tiny village of
Nigoline di Corte Franca is the perfect
place to sample the wines its worth
contacting them in advance if youd
like a tour around the winery itself
and you can round your visit off with
a relaxed lunch afterwards at their
agriturismo restaurant too.
Just like the layers of an onion,
the more you discover about Brescia,
the more there is to know. A stopping
off point or a base from which to
explore the wider area, Brescia has so

much to offer its visitors. From the


leisure possibilities of the glorious
lakes to a grand tour of art cities like
Verona, Bergamo, Milan, Mantua and
Cremona, add Brescia to your bucket
list and you wont be disappointed.
So next time youre speeding by on
the A4, take that detour to discover a
hugely under-rated city of fine food,
wine, art, culture and a jaw-dropping
Roman heritage for yourself.

GETTING THERE
BY PLANE
There are budget airline flights to
Bergamo Orio al Serio (80km); Milan
Malpensa (100km); Milan Linate
(100km) and Verona (50km)
BY CAR
Brescia is well served by motorways: the
A4 runs east from here towards Venice,
while the A21 runs south
BY TRAIN
The north-to-south Brennero-Modena
line runs through Brescia, and the city is
also on the main Milan-Venice line
KEY TO RESTAURANT PRICES
(full meal per person, not including wine)
Up to 25


26-50



More than 50

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Vintage costumes on display in the


Mazzucchelli Museum

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