And if you have not heard it before, it is because it is generally lost somewhere between Milan and Lake Iseo, overshadowed by Bergamo and other cute cities of Lombardy but I saw it on the map and decided to go for it, during my last solo trip to Italy. Let’s see what I did 24 hours in Brescia, Italy and if it’s a city worth visiting!
I will not lie, in Brescia you will not stay for more than one day, ideally you can include it in a beautiful roadtrip or day trip if you are nearby somewhere. Halfway between Milan and Verona, it takes about half an hour to reach Brescia (depending on the train). The city is located a short distance from Lago di Garda – the largest lake in Italy. A great day trip destination from Venice, Bologna and Turin and a great base for longer Italian vacations, Brescia is easily accessible from many major airports in Northern Italy.
What is actually there to do?
Walk Brescia’s historic Center
The city has a beautiful historic center where many different periods have left their mark. Inhabited from the Bronze Age, Brescia today is a patchwork of Roman, Lombard and Venetian elements and landmarks. Turning every corner in Brescia will reveal beautiful surprises and special details, small picturesque cafes and traditional shops for food.
Pay a visit to the Santa Giulia Museum
The Santa Giulia Museum Complex is the highlight of Brescia. Incredibly large and with a huge collection, it is one of the most important museums in Italy and Europe. It is housed in the former Benedictine convent of San Salvatore, which was founded in 753 AD. by Desiderius – the last Lombard King – and his wife Ansa.
There is so much to see there that you can easily spend half or even a whole day here. Walking from room to room in the huge museum, you see how different historical periods evolved and blended with each other, finding inspiration in the past and disappearing in the name of the future.
Brescia has some really beautiful squares that were once the center of both religious and political life and today are the place to be for the locals. The main square is Piazza Paolo VI, which houses some of Brescia’s most important historic buildings. One of them is the Broletto, the old public palace and the seat of the city’s judges. The courtyard is really beautiful, but what will catch your eye will definitely be the grotesque faces that decorate the stones of some of the buildings.
Piazza della Loggia on the other hand, my favorite, was built by the Venetians, who ruled Brescia for a very long time between 1426 and 1796 and wanted to build a new square to express the power of the local government. It was designed following the rules of Renaissance perfect symmetry. It is full of amazing buildings, such as an astronomical clock similar to the one in St. Mark’s Square in Venice and the magnificent Palazzo della Loggia, which is still the seat of local government.
The castle literally hangs from the top of Cidneo hill and is considered one of the largest and best preserved fortresses in Northern Italy. It was built in the Middle Ages and played a central role in the history of the city until the first years of the 20th century, when it was purchased by the local municipality and opened to the public.
Have the best cup of coffee
I discovered it completely by accident but I have to share it with you! The reason for the Cafe Gramci which is located just 5 minutes walk south of the central Palazzo della Loggia in the center of Brescia and is a place you must visit if you are a fan of good coffee. This is on the list of the 20 best Italian cafes of Barawards 2021, so yey!
Day trip to Lake Iseo
If you are in Brescia, you should definitely take a trip to Lake Iseo, a real gem that Italians love to visit (while tourists flood Lake Como). Choose one of the beautiful villages that surround it (I chose Sulzano) and do not forget to visit the island located in the middle of the lake, Monte Isola.
Have a great time!