Brescia is located in the Lombardy region of northern Italy in-between Milan and Verona. At the foot of the Italian Alps, the surrounding region is truly magnificent and boasts some of the most fantastic scenery in Italy. Currently, Brescia has a greater population of 196,000, and it is actually considered to be the industrial centre of the country. This major cities history spans back thousands of years and it has played an important role in historical events since the Roman Empire. Due to its important location in the northern region of Italy, Brescia has been fought over by various factions and empires.
Today the city boasts a wealth of historical structures such as the Roman Capitolino Temple ruins, and the Duomo Nuovo, together with easy access t natural wonders like Monte Maddalena and the famous Lake Garda.
Lets explore the best things to do in Brescia:
1. Piazza del Foro
This small square is one of the oldest parts of the city and the Roman influence is easy to see as you walk down the cobbled street.
Located in the heart of the historic old centre, the square is surrounded by ancient buildings and Roman ruins such as the Capitolino temple.
Aside from the Roman structures, there is a plethora of other styles from Renaissance to modern which combine together to create a truly interesting place.
Whilst you are walking through the old town centre, the Piazza del Foro is an absolute must!
2. Tempio Capitolino
Located in the aforementioned Piazza del Foro, the Capitoline Temple is a Roman structure and complex and is one of the most important examples of Roman architecture in Northern Italy.
Created in 73 AD, this structure has stood for thousands of years and serves as a poignant reminder of the power of the ancient Roman Empire.
Today you can still see elements of the temple including large sections of the wall, foundations, and also part of the front pediment and pillars.
Immense detail can be seen on the pillars and some of the Latin inscriptions are still visible on the base of the pediment.
Aside from the structure itself, there is also a museum that contains some fantastic information about the temple and the Roman history of Brescia.
3. Brescia Museum of Art and History
Located on the aptly named Via dei Musei, the Civici Musei Storia Santa Giulia is housed in an old monastery and combines the beauty of an old building together with a fantastic and interesting set of museum exhibitions and displays.
Inside this building you can explore the history and pre-history of Brescia and learn about the region of Lombardy.
Furthermore, beneath the monastery, you can find a series of preserved Roman houses complete with beautiful mosaic floors.
Additionally, there is a fantastic collection of ancient artefacts such as golden relics, historical artwork, and sculptures.
For an insightful look at ancient times, the Museum of Art and History will not disappoint.
4. Duomo Nuovo
Standing right next to the old Cathedral, the Duomo Nuovo (New Cathedral) provides a stark contrast and is a truly opulent and richly decorated religious structure.
With a construction history that spans nearly 200 years, the cathedral was started in 1604, but not truly completed until 1825. Its architectural style is considered to be Late Baroque and the front facade features a host of white stone and marble, and a plethora of columns and a decorative pediment.
The central Basilica stands tall against the skyline of Brescia and towers over the surrounding low-lying buildings of the historic town centre.
Inside, the cathedral is clean but decorative and has a host of detailed stucco work and sculptures.
Another fine building located in the Piazza Paolo, the Broletto was the old town hall of Brescia and has stood since the 12th century.
This building looks completely different to the Duomo and it is clear that the two are from two different time periods.
Constructed between 1187-1230, the facade and sides are complete, however the bell tower remains unfinished and has exposed stonework.
Combining a mixture of different styles and designs, the building is truly charming and it is possible at certain times to visit inside the structure.
6. Piazza della Loggia
As far as traditional Italian squares go, the Piazza della Loggia is simply beautiful and highly appealing.
At one end lies the Commune di Brescia with its impressive arched columns, marble statues and domed roof, whilst at the opposite end there is a series of beautiful of arches concealing a walkway.
At the top of the arches sits a fantastically decorated clock complete with gold trim and coloured frescos.
Furthermore, there is also a stunning stone statue in the centre of the Piazza and a variety of cafes and restaurants with outside seating.
At night the whole Piazza is lit up beautifully providing a truly ambient experience.
7. Brescia Castello
Located in the north eastern corner of the historic town centre, the Castle takes a commanding elevated position and can be seen for miles around.
The first iteration of the castle was constructed in the 13th century and served as a brilliant form of fortification due to it elevated position in the centre of the town.
Today you can walk through the grounds of the castle and admire the huge remaining walls and turrets.
Furthermore the whole complex is surrounded by beautiful trees and parkland and it is a pleasant place to visit in the summer months.
There is also a museum inside the main castle building that contains some fantastic information on the buildings history, and some interesting artefacts, armour and weaponry.
8. Santa Maria dei Miracoli
Although only small in size, the Church of Santa Maria dei Miracoli is a beautifully designed building both inside and outside.
Located on the busy Vittorio Emanuele, the front facade of the church is truly stunning with a series of decorated columns and a pediment that has a great deal of stucco artwork and sculptures.
Inside the church is even more ornate – most of the ceiling is covered with a sublime coloured fresco depicting Christ and other religious characters and the pillars and walls have a great deal of detail too.
9. Museo Mille Miglia
If you love cars and car racing then you will have heard of the Mille Miglia race that has achieved legendary status in Italy.
Held between 1927 to 1957, the race helped boost the popularity of racing and such car manufacturers as Porsche and Ferrari.
The Museo Mille Miglia is dedicated to this race and its history and is located in and old monastery complex to the east of Brescia.
Here you can find a fantastic amount of information about the race and its origins including past winners, photographs and memorabilia, and also a selection of the actual winning and competing cars!
10. Monte Isola
Situated in the centre of Lake Iseo, Monte Isola is an Island and also a commune that is a popular place to visit when spending time at the lake.
With a current population of 1700 its inhabitants have to walk or cycle everywhere as there are no vehicles on the island.
Interesting sites on the island include the Shrine of Madonna della Ceriola which stands at 600m above sea level and the small charming villages os Peschiera Maraglio, Cure and Carzano.
Regular ferries leave from both Sale Marasino and Sulzano and there are plenty of bike hire vendors.
Consider travelling to the island, hiring a bike, and simply exploring this beautiful mountainous landscape.
11. Lake Iseo
Lake Iseo is the fourth largest lake in the Lombardy region and lies in close proximity to Brescia.
The lake is approximately 30km to the west of Brescia and you can reach it in around 20 minutes driving time.
As an area of outstanding natural beauty, Lake Iseo is surrounded by lush green mountains and its shores are lined with a series of small pleasant villages such as Iseo, Predore and Sulzano.
These villages are perfect to explore and here you can experience a relaxed pace of life and an escape from the bustling cities of Italy.
Also consider taking the ferry to Monte Isola which is a large inhabited island that lies in the middle of the lake.
12. Lake Garda
A whole article could be written about Lake Garda in its own right – It is such an enticing place with a plethora of different activities and sites.
To the East of Brescia, Lake Garda lies majestically surrounded by the Lombardy and Veneto mountains.
As the largest lake in Italy, it is hard to know where to start, but one point of interest that is sure to excite is the arm of Sermione – This stretch of land sticks out into the southern end of Lake Garda and features some fantastic old buildings and the famous Jamaica beach.
If you are looking for adrenaline, Lake Garda also offers a myriad of water sports such as wind surfing, cycling and kayaking.
13. Monte Maddalena
Also known as the mountain of Brescia, Monte Maddalena sites just to the east of the city and is a fantastic place to explore.
This mountain towers over the city of Brescia and several small towns sit on its southern slopes.
If you do not fancy walking, there are roads that lead a good deal of the way up the mountain and also a intermittent bust service.
To truly experience the majesty and magnificence of this natural phenomenon however, a hike will be both rewarding and challenging.
The true peak of the mountain is not accessible as there is a military base there, but there are plenty of panoramic viewing areas that offer amazing views of the surrounding region.
14. Parco delle Orobie Bergamasche
The Lombardy region of Italy is home to a series of dramatic mountains from the Italian Alps and the Orobie Bergamasche national park is situated within this region to the north of Brescia.
If you are looking for an escape to nature then this is the place to be! If you travel to some of the small villages like Gromo and Valbondione that are nestled in the valleys of the park, you can find a plethora of hiking trails that snake through this mountainous region.
For the adventurous, the mountains of Madonnino and Cabianca provide superb views of the region but the hike and climb is not easy going!
15. Torre della Pallata
The Pallata is a medieval tower that stands at 32m high and was constructed in 1254 to act as an additional form of fortification.
This marvellous stone structure has stood for hundreds of years and aside from a fortification, it has also it has also been a clock tower and a treasury.
With characteristic crenulations and a large ornate clock-face, the tower has a great deal of character and is a fantastic site in the centre of Brescia.