Brescia - A small city reach of history


Brescia has a area of 90.7 km2 with 188600 inhabitants, capital of the province. It is located 149 meter above sea level in the piedmont plain at the mouth of Valtrompia, to the left of the river Mella. The old center was extended in the first place mainly outside the western walls, up to the headquarters station. In recent decades, the intense industrial and commercial industry has also favoured the widening of the town to the North and to the East. Manufacturing activities are particularly intense in the engineering, food (beer), chemicals, textiles and clothing. Brescia is favoured by an excellent road and rail network, so it became an active commercial center and has a wide range of advanced services. It became in the course of the 4th century BC the center of the Gauls, in 225 BC when these submitted themselves to the Romans was the most important foothold for expansion into Gaul Transpadana. During the Carolingian bishops of Brescia (now accounts in the 10th century) it acquired prerogatives and powers. During the 13th century it was submitted to the lordships of Ezzelino III da Romano, Oberto Pallavicino and Della Torre of Milan. On 1311 it sustained the siege of Henry VII to be so under the lordship of the Scaliger family, of Pandolfo III Malatesta and Visconti. Annexed by Venice in 1428, in March and in November 1797 it became a independent republic, and then entered in the Cisalpine Republic and the Kingdom of Italy (1805). In 1815 it was incorporated into the Kingdom of Lombardy-Venetia. Brescia was the protagonist of the struggle against Austria, in 1849 held out for ten days (March 23-April 1) to the forces of General Haynau. After the Unification of Italy saw assert a strong Catholic movement, and after the First World War, the rapid process of industrialisation created the conditions for the emergence of an active labor movement of socialist orientation. In the square of the Forum (piazza del Foro), the Roman town (Brixia), there are remains of Capitolium (72 AD, with 3-cell and single porch, houses the Museum of Roman times: there is preserved, among other things, a bronze Victory) , the Roman theater, the curia and the porch, unearthed in the excavations in 1950-60. The characteristic system of three squares - which, together with the square of the Forum characterises the urban layout of Brescia - includes: Piazza del Duomo, the medieval core of the town (Old Cathedral, 11th century, 13th century Broletto), Piazza della Loggia, center of the Renaissance city (Palazzo Comunale, 1492 Monte di Pietà, 1484 1597), Victory Square, gutting result of the fascist (1926-32, M. Piacentini). At the age Veneto also belong to S. Maria dei Miracoli (15th century), the New Cathedral (17 ° -19 ° c.) S. Nazario and Celso (18th century). The rich and important museum complex housed in the monastery of St. Giulia (8 th -16 th century), which includes the medieval basilica of S. Salvatore (8-9th century, stucco, frescoes). The Province of Brescia in Lombardy is the largest such area (4784 km2 with 1,195,800 inhabitants) includes 206 municipalities. The territory is more than half of mountainous and hilly, including Valcamonica (Oglio), the Valtrompia (Mella) and the lower valley of Chiese, with pads interposed culminating in the Adamello massif. Agriculture is thriving in the lower hills and plain of Brescia, with predominant production of cereals, especially maize, which is used for the large number of cattle bred. Brescia emerged, alongside the engineering, electro-mechanical, pharmaceutical, chemical, food and clothing, new manufacturing activities related to the processing of industrial waste, as well as a wide range of advanced services for production. In addition to the main manufacturing complexes are widespread production activities derived from industry base, including those connected to emerge village of Lumezzane, which is one of the most dynamic among the latest generation of Italian industrial districts, which specializes in the production of small metal parts. Large plants for the production of hydroelectric power are found along the river Oglio. Relevant finally, the tourist movement on the shores of Lake Garda and in winter time sports resorts (Edolo, Ponte di Legno, etc..).




The large theater is located in the same place where he opened the first public theater in Brescia in 1664 (Corso Zanardelli n. 9). Initially the area of ​​the theater, which was bounded by the southern walls of the citadel, was granted by the republic of Venice Academy of Wanderers in 1643. The palace was made from the vast academic upper room, which was reached by a majestic hall, and the portico of the horse rider who in 1664 and in 1610 was converted into a theater. About the seventeenth-century building only the façade remains; it is divided by three large windows, the porch was added in 1780. The wide staircase leads to the main entrance of the theater below and continues on into the atrium which was decorated in 1914 by the painter Gaetano Cresseri, who frescoed the Tragedy and Comedy. At the end of the staircase are three other eighteenth-century portals that lead us in the Hall of Statues that was defined in its natural order in 1863 by Girolamo Magnani: above the balustrade stand the statues in plaster and canvas, the side walls are the busts of the playwright Rovetta Girolamo and Giuseppe Verdi. Proceeding further, the hall of statues, crosses a small atrium, almost a corridor, from here you access the Reduced. The Grand Foyer was built between 1760 and 1769 by the architect Antonio Marchetti. The environment of the theater complex is courtly spaces and enjoyable. Despite various decorative interventions due to the “restoration”, the show remains one of the most interesting achievements of the eighteenth century for the particular structure at the gallery and the fresco decoration. At the top you open the “broken” beyond which lies the vast sky painted by the Venetian Francesco Zugno: the allegorical figures of '“Academy” an introduction to the celebration of Arts and Sciences. At the same painter are attributed to the characters, life-size, which animate the fake lodges. From the Grand Foyer, you come to Rotondina which introduces the stairs of the stage and the audience at the theater hall. The current room was designed by the Milanese architect Luigi Canonica and inaugurated in 1810 with a great operatic performance. The original neo-classical decoration inspired by Napoleon's victories, was replaced in 1862-1863 by shepherds ornate neo-Baroque, only the royal box retained the original refined ornamentation, including the panel over with the allegory of the Night. The transformation was carried out by the designer Magnani. In the ceiling are still observed the allegorical groups of Dance, Comedy, Tragedy and Music frescoes by Luigi Campini. Dreaming of being there from the stage … At the chair … a dream never ended … … and still alive.




The Capitoline temple is the most important monumental testimony of the “Brixia” Roman. He was buried by landslides in the Middle Ages of Cidneo hill and was brought to light only in the nineteenth century. In fact, in 1823 on the initiative of municipal congregation and of the Brescia University began the first excavations; around the temple protruded through the brambles with only half a column capital. Erected by Vespasian between 73 and 74 A.D. , The majestic building have been reconstructed part of the pronaos, by tall Corinthian columns, and three cells now used as lapidary museum. The central cell It was destroyed towards the fourth century by a fire caused by a barbarian raid. The area surrounding the Capitoline on three sides by a terrace with a temple at the center and sides, two wings of porch that were extended towards the hole, was reached by a staircase from the decumanus maximus (now rebuilt in concrete). A second staircase leading to the podium of the pronaos, where probably there were two fountains. The temple is made from three or perhaps four rooms separated by interspaces, which are accessed by doors site in a corner of the cells. Of the central cell, the largest, is the ancient stone threshold of Botticino marble. Each cell in which he had kept an altar honoured a deity probably the three deities were Jupiter, Juno and Minerva. At the center of the chapels are the podiums and in the middle, the most impressive is the view of a socket in two steps. Within the central cells and left the floors are kept in marble slabs, antique yellow rectangular ones, broken African colour purple square ones, the floor of the cell to the right hand was destroyed. On the front, a single central front porch is animated by prostyle, hexastyle, Corinthian, with a layout similar to that praised by Vitruvius. At the sides are noticed the two sides of the portico tighter, with three columns of equal height; act as a connection with the central part of two large heart-shaped pillars. The eardrum, largely rebuilt, was to be adorned with three or five statues, the central acroterion was to consist of an entire group of statues. At a depth of 5.60 meters from the portico of the temple, between the Capitol and the theater there is the classroom of Pilastrini. It served as a porch or passage between the decumanus and aditus western theater. It 'a rectangular hall of vast proportions divided into three naves by two rows of pillars tall and narrow, some fluted, others topped with Tuscan capitals, the entrance has an architrave. The bay is bordered on the west by a wall in a perfect state of preservation and to the north by three semicircular niches.



It is the most significant piece found at the Capitol (Capitoline Temple) and one of the few surviving bronze statues. The female figure turn slightly to the left, is dressed in a chiton and a cloak that wraps around her legs. It is made by the method of lost wax casting and finished with sharp instruments that define with precision the details. The position identifies the subject as the goddess of Victory, writing the name of the winner on the shield: the foot was, in fact, place on the helmet of Mars and arms had to hold the shield also supported by the bent leg. The statue was dedicated to the gods as a thank after a military success. The most famous image is carved in relief on the column erected by the emperor Trajan in Rome. The one in Brescia initially without wings, then added, is one of the best known examples.



The museum, housed in the monastic complex of Lombard origin, is an itinerary of the visit in which the dialogue between the exhibits and the structure that welcomes them enchants. About 11,000 archaeological finds and historical and artistic artefacts tells the story of Brescia, from the Bronze Age to the present day. Testimonials of the different eras that have marked the path of the city. The monastery, founded by the future Lombard king Desiderius and his wife Ansa, built on a large Roman house, spread it around three cloisters and three religious buildings from different eras, filled with fascinating frescoes: the Lombard church of San Salvatore, the Romanesque Santa Maria in Solario and the sixteenth-century Church of Santa Giulia. The exhibits could not find better location. The sector of the Age of the Roman Museum of Santa Giulia is undoubtedly the most important archaeological museum reality of northern Italy: the quantity and quality of stored materials speak for themselves. The Museum of Santa Giulia is also an area of ​​the ancient city of great interest for many years the center of important excavations from which they emerged, in addition to great finds, remains remarkable Roman houses. Above all, the so-called Domus dell'Ortaglia with its colourful mosaics and wall paintings, is one of the examples of Roman housing best preserved and most important in northern Italy. The museum responds to the most advanced models museological criteria and educational exhibition allowing the public freedom of movement and ease of approach. There are anatomical charts, reconstructive models, the use of computer support and reference panels written in Italian and English. The museum also has a number of reception: bookshop, a cloakroom, a café and a specialised library, which is open to the public. The exhibition is part of a period between the end of the Roman Empire and the birth of a new empire, the Holy Roman Empire and enshrined by the alliance between the pope and Charlemagne. It is re-evaluating the impact of the “barbarians” on the provinces of the empire, not only (or only occasionally) destroyers of civilisation, but rather forces that contributed to its renewal. Italy had been the heart of the empire whose new states watched as the source of their own civilisation. It was still the seat of the pope who had been developing a universalist vision intended to anchor more to continental Europe and the Mediterranean. It was after the partial Lombard conquest, a borderland between the new Roman-barbarian nations and the Byzantine Empire, the supreme authority to which the new peoples, at least ideally, if not institutionally they related. In the last twenty years the studies on Lombard age have been enriched by a more incisive reading the few written sources and the few surviving monuments, but especially by the growth of medieval archeology in cities, monasteries and, to a lesser extent, in the countryside, has brought to light a large number of stratigraphic sequences. The exhibition is part of an international project which also includes the city of Paderborn, Barcelona, ​​Split and York, dedicated to Charlemagne and the construction of Europe, but does not aim to provide a solution to all the problems under discussion. In the first part we propose a reflection on the development of the Lombards between VII VIII century. In 569 the Lombards invade an Italy just emerged from the disasters of the war greek-Gothic, Byzantine ruled by an authority that is hard to control the regions north of the Po Newcomers, on the other hand, include different groups by ethnicity, culture and faith, often in opposition to each other. They can not conquer the whole of Italy and therefore add to the troubles of the territorial fragmentation of the political situation in itself unstable. The two souls of the Lombards would be in opposition until 680, when Cunipert bring a decisive victory in the open field on the rebel Duke of Brescia Alachis. The victory of Cornate pave the way for an alliance between elites and Lombard church hierarchy harbinger of profound social changes. Whether at the top with the king yet formally elected by the armed free, but in fact restricted expression of aristocratic circles and legitimised by divine protection. Both in aristocracies who will see in the ecclesiastical institutions a privileged to be entrusted, through the prayers and masses, the memory of the deceased, in lieu of the gift funeral deposed in the tombs. A direct reflection that will trigger a revolution in historical and figurative art is the full use of written culture by the new aristocracy that controls both the ecclesiastical and the civil charges. Culture that pervades the most significant moments of the life of the elites that now we can define Roman-Lombard, thanks to the confluence of the aristocracy in Lombard society recent conquest of the Byzantine territories. In the commemorative inscriptions and dedications in life that attest to the greatness of the donor or the manufacturer, in the funeral that hand down death in businesses, the use of written language for the management of power, ensured by legislation and charters documentary that become more and more complex tasks to the legal staff in the culture built on the encyclopaedic anthologies, such as the famous one of Isidore of Seville which give a brief answer on various aspects of knowledge. On the crisis of the Byzantine Empire, prospered not only the dream of the Lombards to unify Italy, but also that of the duchies Byzantines to conquer their own autonomous independence. In the situation of 726-27, when the armies of the Venetian, Rome and Naples rebel against the imperial power siding are the pope against iconoclasm, it fully captures the existence of another Italian who longs for self-government. On this Italy, which also includes the great duchies of Spoleto and Benevento, reluctant to integrate themselves in the distant kingdom of the North, leverages the pope to carve out its own territorial space. Liutprando at the height of power Lombard, did not dare to stand against this second Italian morally guided by the pope, but not yet reinforced by the sword of the Franks. With the death of Liutprand (744) starts three decades marked by a large on the political instability of the kingdom which is reflected by a remarkable flowering of culture and arts. The last king of the Lombards is a smart politician who inaugurates a strategy-minded, in some ways innovative. He gave three daughters in marriage alliances with powerful figures of the European scenario: the Duke of Benevento, that of Bavaria and King of the Franks. Appointment of the fourth abbess of the Monastery of St.. Salvatore of Brescia in which concentrates a large amount of personal property and tax. These thirty years of strong political tension trigger profound changes in society and culture, which are yet to be assessed as a whole. The history of this period is written by the victors: the Liber Pontificalis, which devotes considerable space to the popes, as Stephen II and Hadrian I, who were fiercely opposed to the Lombards. Paul the Deacon who wrote the history of the Lombards chose silence and finished his narrative with the death of Liutprand. The modern historian, not to repeat the stereotypes of the winners, must use other sources, the first documentary, but also the archaeological and artistic history which are particularly rich in confirmation of a period that saw a strong acceleration of archaeological and cultural comparison. Significant is the contribution of a man of culture as Paul the Deacon, a Friulian who is studying in Pavia, puts his talent at the disposal of the sovereign (in 771-72 composed the epitaph for the Queen Ansa) and the Duke of Benevento for which then writes the verses commemorative carved in bronze letters on the building of Salerno. It is a cultural development which, while moving from the urban courts, placed in a territory thanks to the foundation of the great monasteries (Leno, Nonantola, Sesto al Reghena, St. Saviour on Mount Amiata) and the relaunch of existing monasteries (Montecassino, Farfa, S. Vincenzo al Volturno, Bobbio). The founders or re-founders belong to the high aristocracy, animated by a sincere religious faith and the desire to put the family assets protected by the political instability of the time. On the Lombard political crisis, therefore, was combined with a season of strong spirituality and large investments in buildings of worship. In those same years, the other Italian, that he was looking for a solution to the crisis in key autonomist the Byzantine Empire, consumed detachment from the Mediterranean world and the progressive approach to European mediated by the alliance between the Pope and the Franks. A change of the horizon, which, after the end of the Lombard kingdom, will unfold in every sector, from the economic to the cultural. In that statement, with the abandonment of the Byzantine monetary system based on gold coin and the adoption of the Merovingian silver based on money. In the cultural with the development of a culture and a European art which will support the different nations and between them, so that we consider very important, even Lombard Italy.



The Domus of Ortaglia allows to penetrate in the ancient heart of the city, after twenty centuries to admire the rich group of houses from the Roman era, all painted, discovered in the basement of what, for centuries, was the garden of the Monastery of Santa Giulia The area of ​​the domus, an eloquent expression of the magnificence of Roman Brescia, an area of ​​about 1000 square meters. After years of study and research have been brought to light findings related to the two rooms: the Domus of Dionysus and the Domus of the fountains, used from the first to the fourth century AD and which are now attached to the Roman section of the City Museum. The Domus, built on terraced levels that follow the trend of Cidneo Hill enrich the exhibition of the Museum of Santa Giulia and emphasise the identity of the Roman city (colony Augusta Civic). The domus of Dionysius gravitates around a courtyard at its center is an earthenware decorated with polychrome marbles. On the north wall, a fresco on the Nile, is enlivened by the water collected in a basin at the center of the floor there is a mosaic depicting Dionysus, the god of wine, drinking from a panther. The domus of the Fountains is greater extension and the mosaics and paintings present were made in different periods. Different environments characterise this domus. The cubiculum (the studio) is characterised by a floor with white geometric design (first century AD) is the most interesting as they have been found in the collapse of the ceiling and walls of the compartment. Another room has a marble inlay in the center of the hall of the second century AD age to which we seem to pick up even the fountains and pools to which the domus owes its name (domus of the Fountains). The Hall of Seasons is characterised by decorations of the late third century AD whose subject is the passage of time and the cyclical nature of life. The same period the decorations of the hall of columns that allude get-togethers, with patterns and colors that recall the air Alps.



It is an example of extraordinary beauty of Romanesque architecture in Italy. Because of its shape, it is also called “La Rotonda” (the round). It was started by the Masters of Como at the end of the eleventh century over the ruins of what was once the basilica (winter) of S. Maria Maggiore of the seventh century. The Rotonda was originally equipped with two inputs (north - south), but now no longer used; the current main entrance was instead created in 1571. The exterior of the Old Cathedral has a body with a circular plan while the interior is characterised by a hemispherical dome resting on eight large arches supported by pillars and above the large central space. In front of the entrance door is placed the sarcophagus (in red Verona marble) of Berardo Maggi, while the presbytery - through two scales - leads to the Crypt of S. Filastrio, which was part of the ancient basilica of which were some remains of mosaics. The Old Cathedral is home to a number of important works by Moretto, including: the Assumption, the Evangelists Luke and Mark, the Supper of the Passover lamb, Elijah and the Angel, two paintings by Romanino and Franco Maffei (Vicenza painter). Noteworthy is also the grand organ dating back to 1536 made by Antegnati. The Rotonda houses the Treasure of the Most Holy Cross and the Cross of the Field that once was raised on the Northern League.



The New Cathedral was built between 1604 and 1825, the area was chosen on which stood the basilica (summer) early Christian S. Peter de Dom (V-VI century). It was originally contacted the famous architect Andrea Palladio but for economic issues, it was decided to entrust the project to the young architect Giovanni Battista Lantana and site management - for the first twenty years - from Brescia to Pietro Maria Bagnadore who was a sculptor, painter as well as architect. The grandiose façade was erected by the architects Giovan Battista and Antonio Marchetti, while the works were completed by the architect Luigi Cagnola from Milan who provided to erect the beautiful dome that recalls also that of S. Peter's in Rome. The latter was destroyed during the bombing of 1943 and rebuilt after the war. The facade is impressive and solemn, the interior has a Greek cross with three naves and a central dome decorated with frescoes. Inside you can admire the Marriage, Visitation and the Birth of the Virgin of Romanino and the Sacrifice of Isaac by Moretto as well as several sculptures.



Built in Flavia era in stone and marble of various kinds, was the heyday of Severiana age. Around the fifth century due to an earthquake or barbarian invasions, the scene and the fronts collapsed, and the life of the theatre continued, however, until at least 1173. The theatre is connected to the Capitolium from the classroom to the auditorium with pillars lying on the slope of the hill, according to the Greek custom. The considerable size of the building (diameter of 86 meters, 48 ​​meters opening scene, building height 34 meters) placed him among the greatest of the Augustan Regio X after Verona and Pola. It is believed in fact that it could contain 15.000 viewers. Are currently visible most of the lower part of the fronts in curved niches corresponding to traditional doors, the iposcenio with nine stones drilled for the lifting of the curtain, the aditus in scaenam western part of the paradox Western and Eastern Europe.




Known as the “Falcon of Italy” and now a favourite destination for walkers in Brescia, the Castle is located on Route Cidneo whose name derives from Giono, the mythical king of ancient populations from Liguria who first inhabited these areas. After the Ligurians were the Cenomani to establish their headquarters on the hill and then the Romans built a fortress, destroyed during the barbarian invasions of the fourth and fifth centuries. The oldest part of the castle tower Mirabella, cylindrical laying on a rectangular base of the late Roman period, dating from the time of the municipalities (XII - XIII century). The rectangular body of the keep, with walls crowned with battlements and the two circular towers were erected by Giovanni and Luchino Visconti in 1343. It is, however, more likely to have expanded an existing building, transforming it into a formidable fortress that had a major role in the wars for control of the city. In 1426, for example, when Brescia conspired to release by the Visconti, the castle was able to resist for 8 months under assault and only hunger tired at the end of the desperate resistance of the defenders. In 1512, when the revolt broke intended to bring Brescia under the Venetian Republic, the castle once again represented the last bastion of the besieged. When Brescia came under Venetian rule (1516) the city wall was expanded to Canton Monbello and strengthened by the colossal bastion of Pusterla. Restoration work has highlighted a series of frescoes dating from the mid-fourteenth century introns.



The works for the construction of the large square - wanted by the mayor Foscari - began in 1433 and continued for over a century. The buildings that adorn the perimeter, in addition to the Lodge, are the palace of Notaries, home Vender, the New Monte di Pietà, the old Monte di Pietà, the building said the Prisons and arcades with the Clock Tower. Specifically, the building of the Lodge was started in 1492 and ended in 1574. It was designated as the seat of the Council of the aristocracy. The Loggia is certainly the finest example of Renaissance architecture of Brescia. As for the project were contacted several of the most famous architects of the time: Palladio, Sansovino, Alessi, it seems, however, that the final one is to be attributed to Lodovico Beretta. The dome-hull or keel of a ship - similar to the current one - installed in 1560 and in 1575 was destroyed by a fire that destroyed the entire top floor represented - at the time - from a single large space and time where there were three paintings Titian. It was only in 1915 that it was decided to rebuild the lead dome on the model of the original. The ground floor, porch, is characterised by the wide arches while the upper floor is adorned with fine sculptures.



The tower 31 meters high with a square plan (10.6 meters per side) rises above a solid base with large ashlar stone of Botticino. It was probably erected in 1254 to defend the port of St. John, or perhaps it was built to contain the flows of the City. It's definitely one of the most interesting examples of medieval architecture in Brescia. On the west face in 1461 was affixed to the clock while the upper part (the blackbirds baked in and turret) was added during the restoration of the tower took place between 1476 and 1481. The fountain was created in 1596 by sculptor Trentino Carra on the basis of drawings by the painter and architect Bagnadore.



Built at the turn of the twelfth and thirteenth century is one of the finest municipal buildings in Lombardy. Despite many changes and additions, over the centuries, still has the essence of its original Romanesque style. The beautiful facade, adorned with three and four lights, it was restored during the nineteenth century. It was built on an area used as a vegetable garden and orchard or orchard from which, in fact, derives its name. At the center of the inner courtyard is positioned a fountain that adorns the eighteenth century. The oldest wing, stone, is the one that runs along the Duomo and the leaning tower of Pegol (53.70 meters high, built of ashlar Medolo and placed on a base at escarpment in Botticino marble).



The typical dishes are many and varied, there is one in particular that captures the liking of all: the Spiedo Bresciano. It is to prepare various kinds of meat into pieces, which are stuffed in iron rods alternating meat, sage and potatoes. It is then placed in a particular tool that runs slowly. Below are placed hot embers that cooked slowly the whole. Above is placed some butter that slowly melts and passes through a crack, on the meat. The cooking takes about 4 or 5 hours, but it's worth it!


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