From Piazza Paolo VI to the church of S. Clemente
Leaving from Piazza Paolo VI
(see tour n. 1) we take Via Cardinale Querini (
Go along via Querini using the pavement flaking the cathedral as it is sufficiently wide), turn right and admire the 18th century facade of the Queriniana Library
, enriched with a higher central building, crowned by a balustrade with eight statues: the three eastwards by Calegari and the others by Ferretti. The Library, among the most ancient in Lombardia, with the hall and the ceilings refinedly painted in fresco, has a very precious collection of illuminated codes (from the 6th to the 14th century).
At the corner with Via Trieste you can see a walled up fragment of a roman funerary stele. In Piazzetta Vescovado, where there is an eighteenth century fountain shaded by the limetrees, we can see the railing with Tuscan portal of the Palazzo Vescovile, started in 1436 and modified several times. The simple and massive architectural structure is by Bagnadore and Piantavigna (1560-’80). Entering Via Trieste, at the corner with Via Rosa, there is a fountain flanked by a roman column. At n. 17 there is Palazzo Martinengo Cesaresco dell’Aquilone (
The access to Palazzo Martinengo Cesaresco dell' Aquilone has a rather steep ramp), seat of the University of Sacro Cuore. The sixteenth century facade, ascribed to Beretta, is crowned by a cornice with brackets and it is scanned, on the first floor, by two lines of windows alternating triangular and arched tympanum; the stone portal shows trophies of arms and alto-relievo mascarons, inserted in the ashlar-work. In the middle of the arch we can see the coat-of-arms of the family that dominated the city life for half a millennium, flanked by two female figures by Jacopo Medici ( 16th cent.) The hall on six tuscan architraved columns is large and impressive, decorated in classical frieze with trigliphs and metopes and with a wooden beam cealing.
Going on along Via Trieste, at the crossing with Via Cereto (
The paving of via cereto and Piazzetta Labus is uneven: pass through the southern part the sqare) we turn left and get to the small Piazzetta Labus, where we can see, merged in the walls of the houses, the remains of the back facade of the ‘Basilica’ or ‘Roman Curia’ which closed the ‘Foro’ to the south (see tour n.1). The grand building (47 m. long and 19 m. wide) was in double order, scanned by Corinthian fluted pilasters among which there were the architraved portals. At the end of the square we take Vicolo S. Clemente that takes us to the church ( The church of S. Clemente
has two steps inside the entrance) after which it is named. Built before the year 1000, modified in the
15th and 16th century, it was rebuilt in 1840-50 by Vantini. The facade shows a protiro where, in the lunette, the fresco with Pope Clemente stands out.
The interior has only one nave with barrel vault and four chapels on each side. This small church is of such importance because of the collection of extraordinary paintings mostly by Moretto who is buried hereAbove the first altar on the right is the Risen Christ between two Saints, late work by Romanino, not a very well-known one; formerly frescoed by Foppa , the chapel still keeps, under the plaster, some figures of worshipping saints. Above the second altar: ‘SS. Lucia, Agnese, Agata, Cecilia and Barbara’ with the respective symbols of their martyrdoms. Above the third altar there are two temperas representing the Annunciation, ascribed to Romanino or to Callisto Piazza.
In the fourth chapel, dedicated to the Blessed Virgin of the Rosary, with frescos of 1700 by Zaist and Scotti, there is a beautiful marble altar with statues by Calegari on the tympanum. Above the high altar here is a work by Moretto, one of the most important ones for its matching colours and delicate light: the ‘Virgin with Child Worshipped by SS. Clemente, Domenico, Floriano, Caterina and Maddalena’; of the original frescos by Gambara in the presbytery only the little angels beside the apse are visible. Above the fourth, second and first altar on the left three works by Moretto: ‘Melchisedec Offering Abraham Bread and Wine’; the ‘Mystical Wedding of S. Caterina’, admirable for its deep and light colours and the fusion of the figures, and, finally, ‘S. Orsola and her Martyr Companions’, remarkable for the liveliness of the colours and the sweetness of the faces.
From Casa Agostino Gallo to Corso Magenta
In front of the church of S. Clemente there is the house which was property of the agronomist Agostino Gallo from Brescia (1499- 1570), author of “The Twenty Days of Agriculture”. Flanking the house, we walk along Vicolo S. Clemente up to the crossing with Via Cattaneo and, turning left, we take Via Gambara (
This stretch of via Gambara is rather uneven), where, at n. 9, we note a beautiful gothic portal and an ogival window and at n. 5 we find Palazzo Avoltori (now Cazzago) built in the early years of the 18th century, designed by Marchetti. The façade shows nice balconies of wrought iron on the third floor; the windows are shaped to frame shells, volutes, arms and trophies. Going on we get to Piazza S. M. Calchera , in the middle of which there is the monument to the mathematician Niccolò Tartaglia from Brescia.
The church ( The church of S. Maria Calchera
has a 20cm step at the entrance), which gives the name to the square (probably derived from an ancient limekiln), in the 12th century was a simple Chapel of the Visitation; traces of the original structure of 1300 can be found in the apse and in the right side. Rebuilt in 1700, the simple facade shows a portal with an arched tympanum supported by columns; the interior is very simple as well, with only one nave and barrel ceiling frescoed by Cresseri, two low domes, four side chapels and a small rectangular apse, adorned with friezes and stuccos. This church, not very interesting from the architectural point of view, has the merit to keep some paintings of great value. Above the second altar on the right we find an early work by Romanino, the ‘Bishop Apollonio Distributing Eucharist’ (1520-25), a 15th century composition, balanced and very bright with its warm colours ; in the predella, ‘The Last Supper’, by the Romanino school. Behind the high altar is set ‘The Visitation’, by Callisto Piazza from Lodi (1525). Above the second altar on the left we can admire a fresco ascribed to Luca Mombello, Moretto’s pupil, ‘Madonna with Child’, while on the first altar we find ‘The Supper in the Pharisee’s House’, by the late Moretto.
We go along the lane flanking the left side of the church and we arrive at n. 39 Via Trieste, where there is Palazzo Soardi (now Bruni Conter), started in 1725 by Turbino, who incorporated part of a building of the 15th century. On the facade, crowned by curved cyma with bas-relief, the stone portal particularly catches the eye, it has got fruit swag , the fastigium (stucco medallion and trophies), the baroque frames of the three series of windows. From the street you can enjoy a spyglass view through the hall, the porch, the courtyard, the balcony railing up to the garden. In the opposite direction there is another amazing view: across the hall and the street there is another garden with the beautiful Neptune fountain by Calegari. Going on along Via Trieste we easily reach Piazza Tebaldo Brusato, dedicated to the guelph slaughtered by Arrigo VII.
Walking along Vicolo S. Siro we reach Piazzale Arnaldo (
The pavement leading to Piazzale Arnaldo has not any ramp; the square is not a pedestrian precint; we advise to keep on the pavement and enjoy the overall view of the square); staying on this side of the square , to the south we can see The Market of Grain, an austere building made of white stone (1820-23); built by Vita, the structure has round arches and marked ashlar work, with the central body slightly projecting and enriched by a tympanum and by two fountains at both ends (
Go on along this side of C.so Magenta up to the crossing with via Crispi where the pavement is levelled). In the middle of the square there is the monument to Arnaldo (1882), by Tabacchi, dedicated to the reformist friar from Brescia, sent to the stake by Adriano IV in 1155.
At the crossing with Corso Magenta, there is the church of S. Afra in Sant’Eufemia
(15th- 18th cent.) with a simple eighteenth century facade. Going on along Corso Magenta, at n. 56 we find Palazzo Poncarali (lately Oldofredi), present seat of Liceo Arnaldo. The palace (17th cent.)is characterized by its rustic facade and by a portal with telamons on both sides supporting the balcony; in this palace on 18th March 1797 the Republic of Brescia was born.
Past the public garden, we reach the small Piazzetta Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli (1920-1995) with the city Auditorium, which was once the church of S. Barnaba. Of the old baroque church, built by the Augustinian friars in 1632 on the one of the 13th century (whose traces still remain in the apse and in the south aisle), nowaday we have the two architectural orders facade, subdivided by Corinthian parastas, based on pedestals crowned by a balustrade and an attic with four pinnacles, a triangular tympanum with fruit swags in relief and the niches with statues of bishops and saints. At both sides of the portal there are fluted columns supporting the tympanum with two angels and the Augustinian friars’ coat of arms between them. A neoclassical building by Donegani (1837) overlooks the small square, it houses the Luca Marenzio Academy of Music, inside which there are remains of the old friary: the cloister with pointed arches and the ancient Augustinian library, known as Da Cemmo Hall (
The da Cemmo Hall is raechable by the lift inside the Academy of Music. Contact the phone center at n. 030 2886711), because of the wonderful frescos by Pietro da Cemmo (1490), portraying Augustinian doctors and theologians, religious allegories and Saint Augustin Triumphing over the Heresies.
At n.27 down Corso Magenta there is Palazzo Bargnani (once Valotti, now Lechi) of the 16th cent., rearranged in the 19th cent. By Vantini and Tagliaferri. The courtyard, open toward the street, is limited by a porticoed hall, closed by a simple railing with a terrace above it. The arched colonnade, enriched with fountains in rocailles niches, lightens the facade. A few metres ahead we can admire the garden and the baroque railing of Palazzo Martinengo da Barco (now Beretta), austere and simple, built in the 16th cent. on the ancient city walls. The railing, ascribed to Carra, is the best example in Brescia of fusion of marble elements with wrought iron ones.
From the Tosio Martinengo Picture Gallery to Piazza Paolo VI
Going back to Via Crispi, we come to Piazza Moretto, in the middle there is the monument to Alessandro Bonvicino, known as Moretto, by Ghidoni (1899). At the east side of the square there is Palazzo Martinengo da Barco, seat of the Picture Gallery, built in the 16th century, on a fourteenth century building. The facade where there is the main entrance of the gallery is of the 19th century but it follows the style of the 17th century; the original seventeenth century facade to the south, instead, is very beautiful, it is made of two bodies linked by a wall with a majestic arched portal in the middle, two backgrounds with big ashlars at the sides, and two allegorical statues by Paracca as a crowning. Of the 17th century is also the heavy decoration of the cornice with corbels and of the windows, enriched with the mascaron and the omega shaped tympanum on the piano nobile. The elegant inner courtyard is in 16th cent. style and has a three arched arcade on each side and a Ionic open gallery above, with closed arches replaced by simple architraved windows (1680).
The Tosio Martinengo Picture Gallery
In order to reach the Tosio Martinengo Picture Gallery go along the south side of the square; the last part has
cobbled paving; the Gallery is accessible) was built in 1887, but it adopted the present name after the fusion with the Tosio Gallery in 1906. It collects important works , particularly of the Brescia and Venetian school from the 14th to the 17th century. Among the painters there are: Paolo Veneziano, Ferramola, Piazza, Raffaello, Romanino, Moretto, Lotto, Gambara, Savoldo, Bagnadore, Mombello, Campi, Arcimboldi, il Pitocchetto and Cifrondi.
Going down Via Moretto, at n. 84 there is Palazzo Avogadro (now Bettoni-Cazzago). The imposing palace was built towards the middle of the 17th century, probably by Carra, on remains of the 15th century one. In the 19th century Donegani rearranged the baroque facade according to the neoclassical style. Of the baroque facade we still have the marvellous portal with two lion heads in the impost of the arch, a coat of arms with swags and four volute corbels supporting the stone balcony.
At n. 78 there is Palazzo Martinengo Colleoni di Malpaga, at present the seat of the Court , built in the 18th cent. By Torregiani. The facade in Corso Cavour, that is more imposing than the one in Piazza S. Alessandro, is divided by a string-course fillet, marked by pilasters alternating with windows with triangular tympanum on the ground floor, arched tympanum on piano nobile and with simple frame on the third floor. The portal is flanked by high twin columns which support the balcony. The Church of St. Alexander
, on the east side of the square, has a Renaissance facade, rebuilt in the eighteenth century by Donegani, who also designed the fountain in the centre of the square (1787). Inside of the church, on the first altar on the right, we suggest to admire a valuable “Annunciation” by Jacopo Bellini (1470 AD) characterized by gorgeous golden tones of sumptuous cloaks of the Virgin and the angel, halos and curtains.della Vergine e dell'Angelo, delle aureole e dei tendaggi. Leaving the square and going on along Corso Cavour, at the crossing with Corso Magenta, we turn left and reach Via Mazzini; we walk up to Piazzetta Vescovado and reach Piazza Paolo VI again.
Duration of the itinerary: half day
from the guide "Brescia Possibile" by SLOWtime
For fther information: http://www.slowtime.it/