Brescia is a town of great artistic and architectural importance that can be reached by train from Bergamo in just under an hour.
Although it is the second city in Lombardia, after Milan, and has Roman remains and well-preserved Renaissance buildings, it is not as well-known to tourists as other historic Italian cities.
Many people pass through Brescia on their way to Lago di Garda (Lake Garda) or Lago d’Iseo (Lake Iseo) without stopping off to look round the town.
Brescia became a Roman colony before the birth of Christ and you can still see remains from the forum, theatre and a temple.
|Brescia's Piazza della Loggia
The town was fought over by different rulers in the middle ages but came under the protection of Venice in the 15th century.
There is a distinct Venetian influence in the architecture of the Piazza della Loggia, an elegant square in the centre of the town, which is the site of the main Ufficio d’Informazione Turistiche (tourist information office) and has a clock tower remarkably similar to the one in Saint Mark’s square in Venice.
Next to the 17th century Duomo is an older cathedral, the unusually shaped Duomo Vecchio, also known as la Rotonda, which is open to the public and worth a look inside.
The Santa Giulia Museo della Citta covers more than 3000 years of Brescia’s history, housed within the Benedictine Nunnery of San Salvatore and Santa Giulia in Via Musei.
The nunnery was built over a Roman residential quarter, but some of the houses, with their original mosaics and frescoes, have now been excavated and can be seen while you are looking round the museum.
It is well worth spending a day in Brescia and there are direct trains every hour from Bergamo’s railway station in Piazza Marconi.