Holidaymakers looking to dive head first into Italy’s history and culture should set their sights on Brescia. It’s a wonderful city for culture vultures. There are thousands of years of Italian history to get to grips with, along with beautiful churches and excellent museums. If you’re looking for an active holiday, rather than lounging on a beach, then Brescia is ideal. Start in Brescia’s Piazza della Loggia main square and get a glimpse of the city’s famous clock tower. The Roman Forum complex should be high on your sightseeing list too. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage site, and you’ll soon see why. The Roman remains here are astonishingly well-preserved. You can also travel back to a land of dungeons, knights and battlements by visiting Brescia’s castle that overlooks the city.
If you decide to hire a car in Brescia, then you’ll reap the rewards. The famous Italian lakes are within easy reach of Brescia and you’ll be gob-smacked by how pretty they are. There’s loads to do at both Lake Garda and Lake Iseo, other than admiring the views. You can even try your hand at watersports on the lake. It’s also well worth the journey if you’re travelling to Brescia with kids. There are several amusement parks found at the southern tip of Lake Garda. Foodies will love Brescia holidays. You can indulge in delicious grub in Brescia’s family-run trattorias. It’s best to wash it down with a glass or two of the locally-produced sparkling wine.
Brescia is a great base camp if you’re looking to explore the waters and shoreline of spectacular Lake Garda. Italy’s largest lake covers more than 200 square miles and everyone will find something to keep them occupied here. There’s windsurfing and sailing on the lake, while the surrounding countryside is brilliant for hiking or mountain biking. If you’re looking to take things a little more gently, then why not explore some of the pretty villages, castles and ruins around the lake’s shore.
On the opposite side of Brescia to Lake Garda, Lake Iseo is a smaller yet charming spot for a trip. Start by exploring the small towns of Lovere and Pisogne. They’re a good bet if you’re after a souvenir. You can even hop aboard a boat for a ride to the island of Monte Isola in the middle of the lake. It’s a lovely spot to rub shoulders with the fishermen over an espresso and admire the views.
As the nearest city to Brescia, there’s lots of history and culture to explore in Bergamo too. It has the look of the middle ages, with thick stone walls surrounding the city. There’s plenty of well-preserved palaces and churches to take a look at in Bergamo, including the Duomo, Colleoni Chapel and Baptistery. If you’re an art lover, make sure you visit the Accademia Carrara - one of Italy’s finest galleries.
Not content with one impressive 11th-century cathedral, a second cathedral was built in Brescia some 600 years later. Both lie side-by-side and it’s fascinating to compare the two. There’s the San Filastro Crypt and Santa Maria Theater to have a look at in the Old Cathedral. The ‘new’ cathedral, meanwhile, is chocked full of art. Some of the paintings and organ panels are superb.
You’ll come across Roman ruins in most destinations that you visit in Italy. But in Brescia, they are unusually well-preserved. It’s understandable that the Roman Forum has been classed as a world heritage site. The remains of the San Salvatore and Santa Giulia monasteries are particularly eye-catching. You should also visit the Capitolium temple, built in 73-74 AD. The temple’s columns are still intact.
The hill of Colle Cidneo looks down over Brescia and is home to the city’s castle. It’s worth visiting for the views alone. Since the 13th century, this fortress has been protecting Brescia from invaders. It’s just how you’d picture a medieval castle; dungeons, battlements and ramparts. You can find the Museum of Weapons inside if you want a closer look at swords and spears.
With all this culture and history, you might think that Brescia is a tough sell as a holiday destination for kids. Think again. If you head to the shores of Lake Garda, then there’s a group of amusement parks that’ll keep them busy for hours… or even days. There’s Gardaland, which is filled with rides and fairytale characters. You can also splash around by heading to water parks such as Canevaworld or Picoverde. If you’ve got younger children, they can get up close and personal with their favourite animals at Parco Natura Viva.
No trip to Brescia is complete without sampling some of the local tipple, Franciacorta. This fine sparkling white wine is made in the vineyards surrounding Brescia. It’s a delicious drop of bubbly. Brescia cuisine tends to revolve around hearty and rich dishes. You’ll find meaty stews, risottos and plenty of cheeses here. One of the specialities in Brescia is spit-roasted meats.
There are plenty of restaurants, trattorias and pizzerias found in the historical centre of Brescia. If you’re travelling on a budget, head just north of here. There’s a number of extremely cheap trattoria which are popular with the locals, particularly students.
If you’re looking to soak up the culture, art and history of Italy, then Brescia is an ideal holiday destination. There’s so much to see and do in Brescia and the nearby Italian lakes that you’ll need a glass of the local Franciacorta bubbly to unwind at the end of the day. Book with easyJet holidays to enjoy a hassle-free trip to Brescia. You can even save yourself some cash by booking a hotel and flight together with easyJet holidays. Still thinking about it? Check out our other Italy destination guides.