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This article is about the city. For the province, see Province of Brescia. For other uses, see Brescia (disambiguation).
Città di Brescia
Brescia - Duomo Nuovo visto dal castello.jpg
Brescia Piazza Loggia By Stefano Bolognini.JPG Capitolium 5.JPG
Brescia - Duomo Vecchio - esterno.jpg Brescia (117).jpg
Tramonto su Brescia (Foto Luca Giarelli).jpg
Clockwise from top: Night view of Brescia with the New Cathedral and the Tower of Pégol (right), Capitolium (UNESCO Heritage), Castle of Brescia, Panorama of Brescia, Old Cathedral, Piazza della Loggia
Flag of Brescia
Leonessa d'Italia ("Lioness of Italy")
La città della Mille Miglia ("The City of the Thousandth Mile")
Motto: Brixia fidelis ("Brescia faithful")
Brescia is located in Italy
Location of Brescia in Italy
Coordinates: 45°32′30″N 10°13′00″E / 45.54167°N 10.21667°E / 45.54167; 10.21667Coordinates: 45°32′30″N 10°13′00″E / 45.54167°N 10.21667°E / 45.54167; 10.21667
Country Italy
Region Lombardy
Province Province of Brescia (BS)
First settlement:
Celtic settlement:
Roman settlement:
1200 BC
7th century BC
89 BC
Frazioni Fornaci, Sant'Eufemia, San Polo, Urago Mella, Sant'Anna, Mompiano
 • Mayor Emilio Del Bono (PD)
 • Total 90.3 km2 (34.9 sq mi)
Elevation 149 m (489 ft)
Highest elevation 874 m (2,867 ft)
Lowest elevation 104 m (341 ft)
Population (28 February 2015)[1]
 • Total 196,120
 • Density 2,200/km2 (5,600/sq mi)
Demonym(s) Brescian
Bresciani (Italian)
Bresà (Brescian dialect)
Time zone CET (UTC+1)
 • Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)
Postal code 25100
Dialing code 030
Patron saint Sts. Faustino and Giovita
Saint day February 15
Website Official website

Brescia (Italian: [ˈbreʃʃa]; Lombard: Brèsa, locally: [ˈbrɛsɔ] or [ˈbrɛhɔ]; Latin: Brixia) is a city and comune in the region of Lombardy in northern Italy. It is situated at the foot of the Alps, a few kilometres from the lakes Garda and Iseo. With a population of 196,120, it is the second largest city in the region and the fourth of northwest Italy. The urban area of Brescia extends beyond the administrative city limits and has a population of 672,822,[2] while over 1.5 million people live in its metropolitan area.[2] The city is the administrative capital of the Province of Brescia, one of the largest in Italy, with over 1,200,000 inhabitants.

Founded over 3,200 years ago, Brescia (in antiquity Brixia) has been an important regional centre since pre-Roman times. Its old town contains the best-preserved Roman public buildings in northern Italy[3][4] and numerous monuments, among these the medieval castle, the Old and New cathedral, the Renaissance Piazza della Loggia and the rationalist Piazza della Vittoria.

The monumental archaeological area of the Roman forum and the monastic complex of San Salvatore-Santa Giulia have become a UNESCO World Heritage Site as part of a group of seven inscribed as Longobards in Italy, Places of Power (568–774 A.D.).[5]

Brescia is considered the industrial capital of Italy.[6] The metallurgy and the production of machine tools and firearms are of particular economic significance, along with mechanical and automotive engineering. The major companies are A2A, Lucchini, Beretta, Perazzi and Camozzi.

Nicknamed the Leonessa d'Italia ("Lioness of Italy"), Brescia is the homeland of Italian caviar, and is known for being the original production area of the Franciacorta wine and for the prestigious Mille Miglia car race that starts and ends in this city. In addition, Brescia is the setting for most of the action in Manzoni's Adelchi.


Ancient era[edit]

Winged Victory of Brescia (a Greek statue of 3rd century BC, modified in the 1st century by adding the wings).[7]

Various myths relate to the founding of Brescia: one assigns it to Hercules while another attributes its foundation as Altilia ("the other Ilium") by a fugitive from the siege of Troy. According to another myth, the founder was the king of the Ligures, Cidnus, who had invaded the Padan Plain in the late Bronze Age. Colle Cidneo (Cidnus's Hill) was named after that version, and it is the site of the medieval castle. This myth seems to have a grain of truth, because recent archaeological excavations have unearthed remains of a settlement dating back to 1,200 BC that scholars presume to have been built and inhabited by Ligures peoples.[8][9] Others scholars attribute the founding of Brescia to the Etruscans.

The Gallic Cenomani, allies of the Insubres, invaded in the 7th century BC, and used the town as their capital. The city became Roman in 225 BC, when the Cenomani submitted to the Romans. During the Carthaginian Wars, 'Brixia' (as it was called then) was usually allied with the Romans. In 202 BC, it was part of a Celtic confederation against them but, after a secret agreement, changed sides and attacked and destroyed the Insubres by surprise. Subsequently the city and the tribe entered the Roman world peacefully as faithful allies, maintaining a certain administrative freedom. In 89 BC, Brixia was recognized as civitas ("city") and in 41 BC, its inhabitants received Roman citizenship. Augustus founded a civil (not military) colony there in 27 BC, and he and Tiberius constructed an aqueduct to supply it. Roman Brixia had at least three temples, an aqueduct, a theatre, a forum with another temple built under Vespasianus, and some baths.

When Constantine advanced against Maxentius in 312, an engagement took place at Brixia in which the enemy was forced to retreat as far as Verona. In 402, the city was ravaged by the Visigoths of Alaric I. During the 452 invasion of the Huns under Attila, the city was besieged and sacked. Forty years later, it was one of the first conquests by the Gothic general Theoderic the Great in his war against Odoacer.

Middle Ages[edit]

The castle of Brescia.

In 568 (or 569), Brescia was taken from the Byzantines by the Lombards, who made it the capital of one of their semi-independent duchies. The first duke was Alachis, who died in 573. Later dukes included the future kings Rotharis and Rodoald, and Alachis II, a fervent anti-Catholic who was killed in the battle of Cornate d'Adda (688). The last king of the Lombards, Desiderius, had also been duke of Brescia.

In 774, Charlemagne captured the city and ended the existence of the Lombard kingdom in northern Italy. Notingus was the first (prince-)bishop (in 844) who bore the title of count (see Bishopric of Brescia). From 855 to 875, under Louis II the Younger, Brescia become de facto capital of the Holy Roman Empire. Later the power of the bishop as imperial representative was gradually opposed by the local citizens and nobles, Brescia becoming a free commune around the early 12th century. Subsequently it expanded into the nearby countryside, first at the expense of the local landholders, and later against the neighbouring communes, notably Bergamo and Cremona. Brescia defeated the latter two times at Pontoglio, then at the Grumore (mid-12th century) and in the battle of the Malamorte (Bad Death) (1192).

During the struggles in 12th and 13th centuries between the Lombard cities and the German emperors, Brescia was implicated in some of the leagues and in all of the uprisings against them. In the Battle of Legnano the contingent from Brescia was the second in size after that of Milan. The Peace of Constance (1183) that ended the war with Frederick Barbarossa confirmed officially the free status of the comune. In 1201 the podestà Rambertino Buvalelli made peace and established a league with Cremona, Bergamo, and Mantua. Memorable also is the siege laid to Brescia by the Emperor Frederick II in 1238 on account of the part taken by this city in the battle of Cortenova (27 November 1237). Brescia came through this assault victorious. After the fall of the Hohenstaufen, republican institutions declined at Brescia as in the other free cities and the leadership was contested between powerful families, chief among them the Maggi and the Brusati, the latter of the (pro-imperial, anti-papal) Ghibelline party. In 1258 it fell into the hands of Ezzelino da Romano.

In 1311 Emperor Henry VII laid siege to Brescia for six months, losing three-fourths of his army. Later the Scaliger of Verona, aided by the exiled Ghibellines, sought to place Brescia under subjection. The citizens of Brescia then had recourse to John of Luxemburg, but Mastino II della Scala expelled the governor appointed by him. His mastery was soon contested by the Visconti of Milan, but not even their rule was undisputed, as Pandolfo III Malatesta in 1406 took possession of the city. However, in 1416 he bartered it to Filippo Maria Visconti duke of Milan, who in 1426 sold it to the Venetians. The Milanese nobles forced Filippo to resume hostilities against the Venetians, and thus to attempt the recovery of Brescia, but he was defeated in the battle of Maclodio (1427), near Brescia, by general Carmagnola, commander of the Venetian mercenary army. In 1439 Brescia was once more besieged by Francesco Sforza, captain of the Venetians, who defeated Niccolò Piccinino, Filippo's condottiero. Thenceforward Brescia and the province were a Venetian possession, with the exception of the years between 1512 and 1520, when it was occupied by the French armies under Gaston of Foix, Duke of Nemours.

Modern era[edit]

Map of Brescia in the early 18th century.

Brescia has had a major role in the history of the violin. Many archive documents very clearly testify that from 1490 to 1640 Brescia was the cradle of a magnificent school of string players and makers, all styled "maestro", of all the different kinds of stringed instruments of the Renaissance: viola da gamba (viols), violone, lyra, lyrone, violetta and viola da brazzo. So you can find from 1495 "maestro delle viole" or "maestro delle lire" and later, at least from 1558, "maestro di far violini" that is master of violin making. From 1530 the word violin appeared in Brescian documents and spread in later decades throughout north of Italy, reaching Venezia and Cremona.

The dome of the New Cathedral, and behind on this, the silhouette of the Torrione, the first skyscraper built in Italy.[10]

Early in the 16th century Brescia was one of the wealthiest cities of Lombardy, but it never recovered from its sack by the French in 1512.

It subsequently shared the fortunes of the Venetian republic until the latter fell at the hands of French general Napoleon Bonaparte; in Napoleonic times, it was part of the various revolutionary republics and then of the Napoleonic Kingdom of Italy after Napoleon became Emperor of the French.

In 1769, the city was devastated when the Bastion of San Nazaro was struck by lightning. The resulting fire ignited 90,000 kg (198,416 lb) of gunpowder stored there, causing a massive explosion which destroyed one-sixth of the city and killed 3,000 people.

After the end of the Napoleonic era in 1815, Brescia was annexed to the Austrian puppet state known as the Kingdom of Lombardy-Venetia. Brescia revolted in 1848; then again in March 1849, when the Piedmontese army invaded Austrian-controlled Lombardy, the people in Brescia overthrew the hated local Austrian administration, and the Austrian military contingent, led by general Haynau, retreated to the Castle. When the larger military operations turned against the Piedmontese, that retreated, Brescia was left to its own resources, but managed to resist recapture by the Austrian army for ten days of bloody and obstinate street fighting that are now celebrated as the Ten Days of Brescia. This prompted poet Giosuè Carducci to nickname Brescia "Leonessa d'Italia" ("Italian Lioness"), since it was the only Lombard town to rally to King Charles Albert of Piedmont in that year.

In 1859, the citizens of Brescia voted overwhelmingly in favor of its inclusion in the newly founded Kingdom of Italy.

The city was awarded a Gold Medal for its resistance against Fascism in World War II.

On May 28, 1974, it was the seat of the bloody Piazza della Loggia bombing.


Panoramic view of Brescia from the hills surrounding the city.


Twilight over Brescia from Monte Maddalena.

Brescia is located in the north-western section of the Po Valley, at the foot of the Brescian Prealps, between the Mella and the Naviglio, with the Lake Iseo to the west and the Lake Garda to the east. The southern area of the city is flat, while towards the north the territory becomes hilly. The city's lowest point is 104 metres (341 ft) above sea level, the highest point is Monte Maddalena at 874 metres (2,867 ft), while the centre of the town is 149 metres (489 ft). The administrative commune covers a total area of 90.3 square kilometres (34.9 sq mi).

Modern Brescia has a central area focused on residential and tertiary activities. Around the city proper, lies a vast urban agglomeration with over 600,000 inhabitants that expands mainly to the north, to the west and to the east, engulfing many communes in a continuous urban landscape.


According to the Köppen climate classification, Brescia has a humid subtropical climate (Cfa). Its average annual temperature is 13.7 °C (57 °F): 18.2 °C (65 °F) during the day and 9.1 °C (48 °F) at night. The warmest months are June, July, and August, with high temperatures from 27.8 °C (82 °F) to 30.3 °C (87 °F). The coldest are December, January, and February, with low temperatures from −1.5 °C (29 °F) to 0.6 °C (33 °F).

Winter is cold and snowfall is not rare (average 21 cm (8 in) per year), mainly occurs from December through February, but snow cover does not usually remain for long. Summer can be sultry, when humidity levels are high and peak temperatures can reach 35 °C (95 °F). Spring and autumn are generally pleasant, with temperatures ranging between 10 °C (50 °F) and 20 °C (68 °F).

The relative humidity is high throughout the year, especially in winter when it causes fog, mainly from dusk until late morning, although the phenomenon has become increasingly less frequent in recent years.

Precipitation is spread evenly throughout the year. The driest month is December, with precipitation of 54.6 mm (2.1 in), while the wettest month is May, with 104.9 mm (4.1 in) of rain.

Climate data for Brescia
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 19.9
Average high °C (°F) 5.0
Daily mean °C (°F) 1.8
Average low °C (°F) −1.5
Record low °C (°F) −19.4
Average precipitation mm (inches) 63.9
Average precipitation days (≥ 1.0 mm) 6.6 6.4 6.9 9.4 10 8.8 6.5 6.7 5.6 7.0 8.3 6.2 88.4
Average relative humidity (%) 86 81 75 76 73 71 72 72 75 79 85 86 78
Source #1: Archivio climatico Enea-Casaccia,[11]Ispra (precipitation)[12]
Source #2: Servizio Meteorologico (humidity 1961–1990 and extremes 1951–present recorded at Brescia Ghedi Air Base)[13][14][15]
Climate data for Brescia-Ghedi
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 5.4
Daily mean °C (°F) 1.7
Average low °C (°F) −2.0
Average precipitation mm (inches) 65,5 47,9 56.0
67,3 82,6 83,4 74.0
74,2 89,2 111,9 73,8 62,4 888.2
Average precipitation days (≥ 1.0 mm) 7 5 6 9 10 8 6 6 6 8 7 6 84
Average relative humidity (%) 84 78 71 72 70 69 69 70 72 78 83 85 75
Source: Servizio Meteorologico (1961–1990 - Recorded at Brescia-Ghedi Air Base)[13]


In 2014, there were 196,058 people residing in Brescia, of whom 47.1% were male and 52.9% were female. Minors (children aged 0–17) totalled 16.1% of the population compared to pensioners who number 24.6%. This compares with the Italian average of 16.6% (minors) and 21.7% (pensioners). In the three years between 2011 and 2014, the population of Brescia grew by 3.2%, while Italy as a whole grew by 2.3%.[16] The current birth rate of Brescia is 8 births per 1,000 inhabitants compared to the Italian average of 8.2 births.

Brescia is one of the most cosmopolitan and multicultural cities in Italy. In 2014, the foreign-born residents represented almost 20% of the total population.[17] The largest immigrant group comes from other European nations, South Asia and North Africa. The city is predominantly Roman Catholic, but due to immigration now has some Orthodox Christian, Muslim and Sikh followers.


Palazzo della Loggia is Brescia City Hall.
Palazzo Broletto is the seat of the Province of Brescia.

Since local government political reorganization in 1993, Brescia has been governed by the City Council of Brescia, which is based in Palazzo della Loggia. Voters elect directly 33 councilors and the Mayor of Brescia every five years.

Between the 1994 and 2008 local elections, the center-left coalition held the largest number of seats with a partnership administration based on the alliance between Italian People's Party, Democrats of the Left and other minor left-wing and green parties. In the 2008 local election the center-right coalition formed by Silvio Berlusconi's People of Freedom party and the regionalist Lega Nord won the majority in the City Council. In the 2013 elections the Democratic Party achieved an outright majority, after gaining an additional 5 seats across the city. The current Mayor of Brescia is Emilio Del Bono (PD), elected on 10 June 2013.

Brescia is also the capital of its own province. The Provincial Council is seated in Palazzo Broletto.

This is a timeline of the mayors of Brescia since 1946: Mino Martinazzoli

     Left-wing;      Right-wing;      Christian democrat;      Christian left


The city of Brescia is divided in 5 boroughs called circoscrizioni:

Circoscrizione Population
31 December 2010
Historical Center 41,856 Boroughs of Brescia.
North 41,772
West 37,773
South 44,281
East 28,070

Main sights[edit]

The old town of Brescia (characterized, in the north-east, by a rectangular plan, with the streets that intersect at right angles, a peculiarity handed down from Roman times) has a significant artistic and archaeological heritage, consisting of various monuments ranging from the ancient age to contemporary.

UNESCO World Heritage Site
The monumental area with the monastic complex of San Salvatore-Santa Giulia
(Longobards in Italy. Places of Power; 568-774 A.D.)
Name as inscribed on the World Heritage List
Brescia Capitoline Temple.jpg The Capitolium in the Roman forum.
Type Cultural
Criteria ii, iii, vi
Reference 1318
UNESCO region Europe and North America
Inscription history
Inscription 2011 (35th Session)
Basilica of San Salvatore.
The interior of the church of Santa Maria in Solario with the Cross of Desiderius.
The nuns' choir.
A mosaic floor in the Domus dell'Ortaglia.

UNESCO World Heritage monuments[edit]

In 2011, UNESCO has inscribed in the World Heritage List, belonging the group known as "Longobards in Italy, Places of Power (568-774 A.D.)", the following monuments of Brescia:

Monumental area of the Roman forum

This is the archaeological complex where there are the best-preserved Roman public buildings in the northern Italy,[3][4] composed of:

  • Republican sanctuary
It is under the Capitoline temple. It has been built in the 1st century BC and it is the oldest structure of the forum. It consists of four rectangular rooms next to each other and inside then there are the remains of the original mosaic floors and the wall frescoes, which from a stylistic point of view and state of preservation are comparable to those of Pompeii.[18] Since the spring of 2015, the western room has opened to the public, while the rest of the building is still undergoing archaeological excavation and restoration.
  • Capitolium
It was the most important temple of the ancient Brixia, dedicated to the cult of the Capitoline Triad. It was built in 73 AD and consists of three cellae that have preserved much of the original polychrome marble floors,[18] while their interior walls are decorated by ancient Roman epigraphs placed here in the 19th century. In front of them, there are the remains of the portico, composed of Corinthian columns that support a pediment containing a dedication to the Emperor Vespasian. Almost entirely buried by a landslide of the Cidneo Hill, it was rediscovered in 1823 through various archaeological campaigns. During excavation in 1826, a splendid bronze statue of a winged Victory was found inside it, likely hidden in late antiquity to preserve it from one of the various lootings that the town had to endure in those times. Since the spring of 2013, after a new archaeological restoration, it has opened again to the public.
  • Roman theatre
It is located immediately at east of the Capitolium. It has been built in the Flavian era and altered in the 3rd century. With its 86 meters diameter, is one of the largest Roman theatres in northern Italy and originally it housed around 15,000 spectators. In the 5th century, an earthquake has heavily damaged the building. In addition, in later centuries, its remains were incorporated into new buildings built on top of it, largely demolished starting from the 19th century. Of the original structure are preserved the semicircular perimeter walls, the two side passages (aditus) and the remains of the proscenium, as well as many fragments of columns and friezes of the scaenae frons. The most of the orchestra and the ima cavea are still below ground. The archaeological excavations should resume in the coming years.

Near the Capitolium is located the Palazzo Maggi Gambara, an aristocratic palace built in the 16th century on top of the west ruins of the Roman theatre.

Monastic complex of San Salvatore-Santa Giulia

It is an outstanding architectural palimpsest,[3][19] today transformed into the Museo di Santa Giulia, which contains about 11,000 works of art and archaeological finds.[20] During the period of Longobard domination, Princess Anselperga, daughter of King Desiderius, headed the monastery. It consists of:

  • Basilica of San Salvatore
It has been built in 753 by Duke of Brescia Desiderius, future Lombard king, and his wife Ansa. It is characterized by the simultaneous use of the Longobards stylistic elements and decorative motifs of classical and Byzantine art and it is one of the most important examples of High Middle Ages architecture in Italy.[21] The basilica has a nave with two apses and has a transept with three apses. It is located over a pre-existing church, which had a single nave and three apses. Expanded in the following centuries, it houses various works of art, including the Stories of St. Obizio painted by Romanino and Stories of the Virgin and the infancy of Christ by Paolo Caylina il Giovane,[22] as well as others from the Carolingian age.
  • Church of Santa Maria in Solario
It has been built in the mid-12th century as a chapel inside the monastery. It has a square base with an octagonal lantern and has two internal levels.[22] Four vaults, supported in the centre by an ancient Roman altar, covers the lower floor, while a hemispherical dome covers the upper chamber, that has, into the east wall, three small apses. Inside there are frescoes by Floriano Ferramola and two of the most important pieces of the treasure of the ancient monastery: the Brescia Casket (that consists of a small ivory box dating the 4th century) and the Cross of Desiderius (made of silver and gold plate, studded with 212 precious gems).[23]
  • The nuns' choir
It is placed between the Basilica of San Salvatore and the church of Santa Giulia. It has been built between the late 15th and early 16th century and it is on two levels. The lower level is the old churchyard covered for access to the basilica. The upper floor is the real choir, made up by a room covered by a barrel vault, which is connected to the east with San Salvatore by three small windows with a grating, on the west by Santa Giulia through an arch. The interior of the choir is entirely decorated with frescoes painted by Ferramola and Caylina, and inside are shown different funerary monuments of the Venetian age, including the Martinengo Mausoleum, a masterpiece of the Renaissance sculpture in Lombardy.[24]
  • Church of Santa Giulia
It has been built between 1593 and 1599. The façade, made of Botticino marble, is decorated with a double row of pilasters of the Corinthian order, separated by a rich marble frieze and connected to the sides by volutes. The inside consists of a spacious nave covered with a barrel vault. In the church, there are no sacred furniture and there are only a few scraps of the frescoes that originally decorated each surface. Although annexed to the monastery, it is not part of the Museo di Santa Giulia and is used as a conference room.[22]

In the former vegetable garden of this monastery have been discovered a group of Roman domus called Domus dell’Ortaglia that were used between the 1st and 4th centuries and they are some of the best preserved domus in northern Italy.

Others sights[edit]

The arcades of Piazza della Loggia and the tower with the astronomical clock.
The two cathedrals of Brescia: the Old (at right) and the New (at left).
The Renaissance church of Santa Maria dei Miracoli.
Church of San Nazaro e Celsio: the Averoldi Polyptych by Titian.
The Lighthouse of Brescia in the Monumental Cemetery.
Teatro Grande.
  • Piazza della Loggia, example of Renaissance piazza, with the eponymous Palazzo della Loggia (current Town Hall), construction began in 1492 under the direction of Filippo de' Grassi and completed only in 16th-century by Sansovino and Palladio. Vanvitelli designed the upper room of the palace (1769). On the south side of the square are two 15th-16th century Monti di Pietà (Christian lending houses). Their façades are embedded with ancient Roman tombstones, one of oldest antique lapidary displays in Italy.[25] At the centre of the east side of the square stands a tower with a large astronomical clock (mid 16th-century) on top of which there are two copper anthropomorphic automata which strike the hours on a bell. On May 28, 1974, the square was targeted by the terrorist bombing.
  • Duomo Vecchio: the Old Cathedral also known as La Rotonda is circular 11th-century Romanesque church. The main structure, with rustic exteriors, was built atop ruins of an earlier basilica. Near the entrance is the pink marble sarcophagus of Berardo Maggi, while in the presbytery is the entrance to the crypt of San Filastrio. The structure houses masterworks by Alessandro Bonvicino (il Moretto); Girolamo Romanino, Palma il Giovane, Francesco Maffei, and others.[26]
  • Duomo Nuovo: construction of the New Cathedral began in 1604 and only completed in 1825. Initially designed by Palladio, economic shortfalls led to a younger local architects and artists completing initial work, including decorations by Pietro Maria Bagnadore. The interior has major frescoes by Il Moretto. The main attraction is the Ark of Sts Apollonius and Filastrius (1510).[27]
  • Broletto: the 12th- and 13th-century Town Hall, now houses offices of both the commune and province. On the Piazza front is the balcony from where the medieval city officials spoke to the townsfolk; on the north side, rises a tall tower called "Tower of Pégol" or "Tower of the People" (the Lombard: Tòr del Pégol), whose bells were once used to summon the citizens in moments of distress.
  • Piazza della Vittoria, an example of Italian rationalism architecture. It has been built between 1927 and 1932 by architect Marcello Piacentini through the demolition of part of the medieval old town and it has an L-shape. On the inside corner right there is the Torrione, the first skyscraper built in Italy.[10] In the north background there is the large Palazzo delle poste ("Post Office building"), with its ocher-white two-tone upholstery. The Torre della Rivoluzione ("Tower of the Revolution") and three other buildings, recalling the classical architecture, complete the square.
  • Piazza del Foro: site of the Roman forum. In addition to the already mentioned Capitolium, republican sanctuary and Roman theatre, various other remains are visible in the area. Among these, on the south side of the square, are scanty remains of a building called the curia, which may have been a basilica.
  • Palazzo Martinengo Cesaresco Novarino: mid-17th-century palace, now home to art exhibitions and an underground archaeological exhibit, depicting city's history from the early Iron Age to the present day, concentrating in a single place 3,000 years of urban history of Brescia.[28]
  • Santa Maria dei Miracoli: (1488 - 1523) church with fine façade by Giovanni Antonio Amadeo, decorated with bas-reliefs and a Renaissance peristilium. It is considered a jewel of Renaissance sculpture in Lombardy.[29]
  • St. Francis of Assisi: Romanesque-Gothic church and cloisters.
  • Castle of Brescia: also known as Falcone d’Italia ("falcon of Italy"), locate atop Cidneo Hill at the northeast angle of the town. Built between the 13th and the 16th century and among the largest castles in Italy.[30] Besides commanding a fine view of the city and a large part of the surrounding area, and being a local favorite recreational area, it hosts the Arms Museum, with a fine collection of weapons from the Middle Ages onwards; the Risorgimento Museum, dedicated to the Italian independence wars of the 19th century; an exhibition of model railroads; and an astronomical observatory.
  • Santi Nazaro e Celso: church housing the Averoldi Polyptych by Titian.
  • San Faustino e Giovita: church also known as San Faustino Maggiore. The interior has a fresco depicting Apotheosis of Sts Faustino, Jovita, Benedict and Scholastica by Giandomenico Tiepolo.
  • Basilica of Santa Maria delle Grazie: basilica church built between 16th and 17th-centuries with Baroque frescoes and stucco, and a work of Il Moretto.
  • San Giuseppe: 16th-century church houses frescoes and decoration including fourteen Stations of the Cross of St. Joseph (1713) by Giovanni Antonio Cappello. The church houses the tombs of Gasparo da Salò, one of the inventors of the modern violin and Benedetto Marcello, Baroque musician. Inside it, there is one of the oldest organs in the world.[31]
  • San Clemente: church with paintings by Bonvicino.
  • Torre della Pallata: massive tower built in 1254 as part of the medieval walls. In the 15th-century, the clock, merlons, and turret added. The fountain on the western side was designed in 1597 by Bagnadore.
  • San Giovanni: church with a refectory painted jointly by il Moretto and il Romanino.
  • Monumental Cemetery: also known as Vantiniano, is the largest cemetery in Brescia, designed around 1813 by Rodolfo Vantini. It is the first monumental cemetery built in Italy [32] and at its centre stands the Lighthouse of Brescia (60 meters tall) which has inspired the architect Heinrich Strack for the design of the Berlin Victory Column.[33]
  • Teatro Grande: opera house renovated several times between the mid-17th and mid-19th century. The name Grande ("Big") is derived from the former name Il Grande ("The Great") in honour of Napoleon Bonaparte. The horseshoe-shaped auditorium is richly decorated and has five galleries. Since 1912, the theatre is a national monument.[34]
  • Biblioteca Queriniana, containing rare early manuscripts, including the Codex Brixianus, a 14th-century manuscript of Dante, and some rare incunabula.

The city has no fewer than seventy-two public fountains. The stone quarries of Botticino, 8 km (5 mi) east of Brescia, supplied marble for the Monument to Vittorio Emanuele II in Rome.


Via dei Musei ("Museums Street"), so called because along this street lie the remains of the Roman forum and the Santa Giulia Museum.
Pinacoteca Tosio Martinengo: Angel by Raphael.

The most important museums of Brescia are the following:

  • Museo di Santa Giulia ("Santa Giulia Museum"): it is the city Museum, situated in the monastic complex of San Salvatore-Santa Giulia, which has a rich Roman section. One of the masterpieces is the bronze statue of a winged Victory, originally probably a Venus, converted in antiquity into the Victory by adding the wings; it is said to be in the act of writing the winner's name on her shield (now lost). Also very interesting, one of the very few places in the world where the remains of two Roman domus can be visited on their original site simply by strolling into one of the Museum halls.
  • Pinacoteca Tosio Martinengo, the municipal art gallery; it hosts works of the painters of the Renaissance Brescian school, Girolamo Romanino, Alessandro Bonvicino and Giovanni Battista Moroni. This is currently closed for restoration and a selection of its paintings is exhibited in the Santa Giulia Museum.
  • Museo della Mille Miglia ("Mille Miglia Museum"). Situated inside the former Monastery of S. Eufemia, the museum celebrates the history of the 1,000-mile car race from Brescia to Rome and back that began in 1927. It shows films, memorabilia, dresses, posters, and a number of classic cars that are periodically replaced by other in case of participation in events.[35]
  • Museo Diocesano di Brescia ("Diocesan Museum of Brescia"). It is located in the former Monastery of St. Joseph and houses a permanent collection of sacred artworks, including paintings, illuminated manuscripts, as well as one of the most extensive collections of vestments in Italy.[36]
  • Museo Nazionale della fotografia ("National Museum of Photography"). It hosts a collection of photographic and cinematographic machines, along with various camera accessories and a photo library with about 60,000 photographs.[37]
  • Museo delle Armi "Luigi Marzoli" ("“Luigi Marzoli” Arms Museum"). Located in the Castle, it is one of the most important European collections of old armour and weaponry. It hosts about 600 pieces of armour, weapons and firearms from the 15th to the 19th century.[38]
  • Museo degli strumenti musicali e della liuteria bresciana ("Museum of the Musical Instruments and Brescian lutherie"). It hosts string and wind instruments, as well as a rich collection of choirbooks and musical scores.
  • Collezione Paolo VI - arte contemporanea ("Paul VI Collection - Contemporary Art"). It is located in Concesio, on the northern outskirts of Brescia, and hosts the contemporary art collection of Pope Paul VI, composed of about 7,000 works of many famous artists, including Matisse, Chagall, Picasso, Dalí and others. It was opened on 8 November 2009, inaugurated by Pope Benedict XVI.[39]

Besides these, there are other museums in Brescia:

  • Museo del Risorgimento ("Risorgimento Museum")
  • Museo dell’industria e del lavoro ("Museum of Industry and Labour")
  • The Beatles Museum
  • Museo Ken Damy
  • AmbienteParco
  • Museo di Scienze Naturali ("Natural Science Museum")


The Castle Park.

Due to its location in the foothills of the Alps, Brescia has forests close to the city centre. About 80% of its municipal territory is covered by woodlands and farmlands: total amount of public green space is 26.3 square kilometres (10.2 sq mi), or 134 square metres (1,440 sq ft) per inhabitant, while agricultural zones cover an area of 45.6 square kilometres (17.6 sq mi).[40]

The largest park of Brescia is Parco delle Colline di Brescia ("Brescia Hills Park") that has a total surface of 43.09 square kilometres (16.64 sq mi),[41] of which 21.83 square kilometres (8.43 sq mi) fall within the city limits.[40] The park was established in 2000 with the purpose of preserving, safeguarding, and enhancing the natural heritage of the hills surrounding Brescia. Woods cover about 70% of the surface of the park; the rest consists of meadows, vineyard and olive plantations. The most common plants in the park are hop-hornbeam, downy oak, sweet chestnut, manna ash, but there is also the presence of Mediterranean species such as terebinth, tree heath, bay laurel and holm oak. The fauna of the park includes foxes, European badgers, wild boars and other mammals, while the most common birds are robins, blackbirds, blackcaps and wrens.[42]

Other parks are scattered throughout the city, such as the Parco del Castello ("Castle Park"), the Parco Tarello and the Parco Ducos.


University of Brescia, Economics faculty.

Brescia has two universities. The University of Brescia is a public university founded in 1982 and ranked among the Top 700 universities worldwide.[43] It is divided into 4 faculties: Economics, Engineering, Law, Medicine and Surgery.
The Catholic University of Brescia, founded in 1968, is a satellite campus of the Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore. It is divided into 6 faculties: Literature and Philosophy; Psychology; Education; Language Sciences and Foreign Literature; Mathematics, Physics and Natural Sciences; Political and Social Sciences.

Brescia is also home of two academies of fine art (LABA - Libera Accademia di Belle Arti and Accademia di Belle Arti SantaGiulia) and a conservatory of music (Conservatorio Luca Marenzio).


Brescia is an important medical centre. The main hospital of the city is Spedali Civili di Brescia, which has 2,180 beds and an employed staff of 6,175.[44] It has been founded in 1427 and is considered the second best hospital in Italy.[45] Other hospitals are located in the city: Fondazione Poliambulanza, Casa di Cura S. Camillo, Istituto Clinico S. Anna and Istituto Clinico Città di Brescia.


The city is at the centre of the third largest Italian industrial area.[46] The local Confindustria, the AIB - Associazione Industriale Bresciana (Industrial Association of Brescia), was the first industry association founded in Italy in 1897.[47] The Brescian companies are typically a small or medium-sized, often family-run, ranging from the food to the engineering industry.

A bottle of Franciacorta DOCG.


The viticulture is the most important agricultural sector of the Brescian food system. The municipality of Brescia is part of the production areas of five different wines: a DOCG wine, i.e. the Franciacorta,[48] three DOC wines (Botticino,[49] Cellatica[50] and Curtefranca[51]) and an IGT wine (Ronchi di Brescia[52]). In addition, in its old town, along the northern slope of the Cidneo Hill, there is the largest urban vineyard in Europe,[53] characterized by the cultivation of Invernenga, a local white grape variety present in Brescia since Roman times.[54]

Another very important sector is the production of olive oil, especially in the nearby area of Lake Garda. The European Union has recorded as PDO two typologies of extra virgin olive oils and they are Garda and Laghi lombardi.

Brescia is also the homeland of Italian caviar. In Calvisano, about 30 kilometres (19 mi) south of the city centre, is located the world's largest sturgeons farm[55] that produces annually 25 tonnes of caviar exported all over the world.[56]

Industry and services[edit]

The business district of Brescia.

The main industrial activities of Brescia are those mechanical, specialized in the production and distribution of machine tools. Also important is the production of motor vehicle, represented by the OM, which is the manufacturer of Iveco trucks, and the production of weapons, among which the Beretta, Fabarm and Perazzi. Very important is the metallurgical industry. On the outskirts of town, there are two steel mills: the "Alfa Acciai" and "Ori Martin". Other crucial industrial activities are the production of cutlery and faucets, along with the textile, footwear and clothing, as well as the production of building materials and bricks. The intense industrial development has resulted in a high level of pollution in the outskirts of the city located near the disused chemical factory "Caffaro" that produced PCB. For this reason, this part of the city is in the list of SIN - Siti di Interesse Nazionale (Sites of National Interest).

Brescia hosts the headquarters of several industry groups, including the Lucchini Group, the Feralpi and the Camozzi Group. Brescia is also home to the A2A Group (the result of the merger of ASM Brescia, AEM Milano and AMSA).

The financial sector is also a major employer, with the presence of several branches of banks and financial assets. The UBI Banca Group, fourth largest banking group in Italy, has several division headquarters in the city.


A street of the old town.

The significant historical and artistic heritage of Brescia (since 2011 in the UNESCO World Heritage list) and the natural beauties of its surrounding area (like the Lake Garda, the Val Camonica and the Lake Iseo) have allowed the city to attract an increasing number of visitors. In 10 years, the number of tourists who visited Brescia has almost doubled from 142,556 in 2003[57] to over 280,000 in 2013.[58]

Additionally, Brescia is close to important tourist destinations (Milan can be directly reached in 45 minutes by train, Venice and Florence in about 2 hours) and is one of the cheapest cities in Italy in terms of hotel stays.[59][60][61] For these reasons, tourists often use Brescia as a base to explore the surrounding places.


Brescia Metro[edit]

A station of the Brescia Metro.

The Brescia Metro is a rapid transit network that opened on 2 March 2013.[62] The network comprises one line, 13.7 kilometres (9 mi) long,[63] with 17 stations[63] between Buffalora and Prealpino, of which 13 are underground.

The first projects for a metro in Brescia date back to 1980s, with the introduction of the first fully automatic light metro systems in other mid-size cities in Europe. Two feasibility studies were commissioned in 1987. The automatic light metro system was chosen as the best technology for the city. The first public tender was announced in 1989. But this project was then cancelled in 1996.

In 1994, the first application for public financing was issued. The public financing form the central government arrived in 1995, while other funds arrived in 2002 from the Region. The international public bid for the first phase of the project was announced in 2000. The winning proposal was from a group of companies comprising Ansaldo STS, AnsaldoBreda, Astaldi and Acciona, with a system similar to that of the Copenhagen metro.

A €575 million contract was awarded to a consortium led by Ansaldo STS in April 2003.[64] Work started in January 2004, but archaeological finds caused delays and required station redesigns. The line opened on 2 March 2013.[62][65]


The train station of Brescia.

Brescia has three railway stations. The main station Stazione di Brescia, which opened in 1854, is located on the Milan-Venice railway and is the starting point for the rail lines Brescia-Iseo-Edolo, Brescia-Cremona, Brescia-Parma and Brescia-Lecco. The station has 11 platforms and is used by about 20 million passengers per year. Other railway stations are Borgo San Giovanni (a lesser station that is located on the Brescia-Iseo-Edolo railway) and Brescia Scalo, with no passenger service and used as a freight station.

From Brescia, high speed trains connect to Milan, Rome, Turin, Bologna, Florence and Venice; one can reach Milan in 46 min, Venice in 1h and 35 min, Florence in 2 hours and 15 min and Rome in 3 hours and 35 min.


Brescia is connected with the rest of Northern Italy by three motorways:

  • A4, that is the main axis connecting the city with the east and the west of the country, to cities such as Milan, Turin, Venice and Trieste;
  • A21, which connects Brescia to Turin with a more southern route than A4;
  • A35, which connects Brescia to Milan and the Linate Airport with a faster route than A4.


Brescia is served by the following airports:


Rowan Atkinson in the Mille Miglia 2011.

Brescia was the starting and end point of the historical car race Mille Miglia that took place annually in May until 1957 on a Brescia-Rome-Brescia itinerary, and also the now defunct Coppa Florio, one of the first ever sport motor races. The Mille Miglia tradition is now kept alive by the "Historic Mille Miglia",[66] a world-class event that gathers in Brescia every year thousands of fans of motor sports and of vintage sports cars. The only cars admitted to the race are the ones that could have competed in (although they do not necessarily have to have taken part in) the original Mille Miglia. The race nowadays is not however a speed race anymore, but rather a "regularity" race; speed races have actually been banned on regular roads in Italy because of the deadly accident that killed a driver and ten bystanders in the last minutes of the 1957 Mille Miglia - that therefore became the last of the original races.
In recent years, many celebrities have participated in the Mille Miglia, including Rowan Atkinson, Daniel Day Lewis, Jeremy Irons, Jay Leno, Brian Johnson, Elliot Gleave, David Gandy, Jodie Kidd, Yasmin Le Bon and others.[67][68][69]

Brescia is also the home of the Brescia Calcio football club and the Rugby Leonessa 1928.


Notable people[edit]

International relations[edit]

In Brazil there is a town called Nova Bréscia. This name was given by its first citizens, who were from Brescia.

Twin towns—Sister cities[edit]

Brescia is twinned with:


Brescia is home to the following consulates:

See also[edit]

References and sources[edit]

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  79. ^ Consolato Onorario di Albania,
  80. ^ Consolato Onorario del Ghana,
  81. ^ Consolato Onorario di Malta,
  82. ^ Distaccamento Consolato Moldavo presso la sede delle Acli bresciane,
  83. ^ Consolato Onorario di Romania,

Further reading[edit]

Published in the 19th century
Published in the 20th century

External links[edit]