From Piazza Loggia to Museo Diocesano
The tour starts in Piazza Loggia, the most balanced and homogeneous Renaissance architectural complex in town. It is of Venetian style and it was wanted by podestà Foscari in 1433 to create a new civic center, symbol of the Venetian domination which had just begun. On the southern side of the square there is the 15th cent. Vender house ( For a panoramic view, reachthe center of the square; ramp at the north side), with fragments of frescos on its facade, and the homogeneous complex of the two ‘Monti di Pietà’ (Pawnshops): the Old Pawnshop, designed by De’ Grassi and built in 1483-89, has a marble facade in an elegant Renaissance style, with a two- arched portico in the middle supporting the small loggia with seven little arches, at their turn supported by thin columns. In 1485 the Town Council ordered to wall up several roman gravestones onto the facade, so that the first public archeological collection of stony material in Europe was created. In 1596-1600 the New Pawnshop was built, designed by Bagnadore, with the beautiful portal flanked by pilasters and crowned with a tympanum on which two caryatids stand; it is linked to the Old Pawnshop by an arch with a small aedicule above. The east side of the square is closed by the palace with arcades (1595) by Bagnadore, perhaps designed by Beretta. Built on the roman walls which the Viscontis had used as defense of the fortress (1363), the building is twostoried, with an arcade on the lower floor. The Ionic arcades continue in Via X Giornate, following the route of the roman walls. The Clock Tower, known as ‘I Macc de le Ure’ (dialect for: The Madmen of the Clock) because of the two bronzestatues which strike the time, was built in 1540-50, designed by Beretta. It has an astronomical dial painted by
Lamberti and its mechanism is by Paolo Gennari from Rezzato. In the vault below the tower there is the monument to the Victims of the Massacre of 28 th May 1974, designed by Scarpa. To the north, under the last arch of the arcades, there is the ‘Porta Bruciata’ (Burnt Gate, see tour n. 1) and, in the small square, the monument to the ‘Martiri delle X Giornate’ (Martyrs of the Ten Days) (1864). On the west side you can see the main building of the square, Palazzo Loggia ( The Vanvitelliano Hall and the hall of the Judges are accessible by the lift at the back, in Largo Formentone; equipped toilet on the ground floor, entering from the door at the south side of the palace), today the seat of the Town Council. The works started in 1492 under the direction of De’Grassi (design by Formentone). In 1508 the ground floor up to the balustrade was completed as well as the bridge linking the Loggia with the Palazzo Notarile to the north (statues by Jacopo Medici, 1565), intended to house the great staircase leading to the hall on the upper floor, then the works stopped because of the wars against France and Spain. In 1530 the works started again under Lamberti's direction, who planned the monumental entrance to the lower halls, with two small elegant fountains in the niches at both sides, by Nicolò da Grado. Toward the middle of the century the work was entrusted to Beretta, official architect of the city. He probably worked on designs by Sansovino, lately modified by Palladio, Alessi and Rusconi, who, in 1562, had been called to judge about the stability of the palace; the balustrade which crowns the Loggia is by Piantavigna (1573). When the lead covering with upturned bottom was finished, in 1575 a fire destroyed the whole upper part; after a temporary covering and various lucky and unlucky events, in 1769 architect Vanvitelli was called to complete the building with an attic. In 1914 this attic was demolished to rebuild the dome according to the old plan. The outside of the Loggia has a powerful structure of three naves with three bays each, closed at the west side to house the offices, open with a porch at the other sides, with arches at full centre and cross vaults. The decorative part in marble from Brescia, with lion and human protomi in the frieze and tondi with emperor heads in the over-arches, engravings, capitals, pilasters, cornices of refined Renaissance taste, were made by the best Venetian master sculptors and stonecutters of the time. The inside (1st floor) has a decoration organized after the mannerist contrast between the plain parts and the ones decorated with phytomorphous patterns; the great hall of the Council (at present the Vanvitelliano Hall) was frescoed by Cristoforo Rosa from Brescia, who painted the vault with perspecdella tive squares around three wide octagonal spaces within which Tiziano painted three huge allegorical ‘teleri’, destroyed by the fire in 1575. On the wall of the ancient staircase, to which in 1876 Tagliaferri added the flight to reach the halls on the first floor directly, there are some temperas by Campi (16th century) and the Translation of SS. Faustino e Giovita by Bagnadore (1603). The entrance hall and some rooms were painted at the beginning of the 20th century by Cresseri and Castelli. In the body of the staircase built on the north side of the building between 1523 and 1533, is the hall of the Judges; the walls were placed copies of large paintings of Mannerist style made by Campi, depicting scenes from the Bible and ancient history and surrounded by a fine fresco decoration by Rosa. Coming out of Palazzo Loggia, we take Corso Mameli up to the vault of Vicolo S. Giuseppe. The construction of the church of S. Giuseppe ( Access through smooth thresholdon the right of the main portal of the church of S. Giuseppe) started in 1519, wanted by the Minorities of the friary close to the church (cancelled in 1867), and finished after 1578. Onto the façade, decorated with three lantern pinnacles in terracotta tiles, we can see the sixteenth century portal, with two imposing columns and tympanum. The inside with three wide naves and great raised presbytery, has ten chapels on each side, closed by beautiful railings of wrought iron and adorned with paintings, mostly by authors of the 18th century from Brescia, such as: Paglia, Scalvini, Avogadro, Palma il Giovane, Pietro degli Orazi, Gandino, Ferdinando del Cairo, Mombello. Above the third altar on the right we point out a sixteenth cent. fresco with SS. Giacomo, Ludovico e Gottardo by the Ferramola school and, in the lunette, ‘Christ on the Clouds’ by the same school. In the presbytery, considerably superelevated over the crypt, there are: the baroque high altar with the mortal remains of S. Ursicino (330- 349), the choir inlaid by Zamara (1500) and, in the left chancel, the imposing organ (1581) by Antegnati. The two cloisters to the west ( Access to the cloisters from the sacristy with ramp on the left of the presbytery) are of the same age as the church; the first one, known as S. Bernardino’s or the Sacristy cloister (1531-33) was frescoed in its 29 lunettes by Gandino (1565-1630) and Mombello with the Facts of the Life of S. Bernardino da Siena and views of the Franciscan Monasteries. The second one, or the ‘Guestrooms Cloister’, is square planned, very harmonious, with three arcades on each side, columns and capitals of re-employment from structures of the Loggia and of S. Augustin’s monastery and frescos by Capello (1665- 1741). Going back to Via Mameli, we take Via Gasparo da Salò as far as the ‘Museo Diocesano of Sacred Art’, ( The 'Museo Diocesano' is accessible; entrance for disabled at n.11, informing the staff of the booking office) where they keep paintings, holy vessels and altar clothes from the area around Brescia. Here you can admire the third cloister of S. Giuseppe complex: elegant and coherent , it is of late Renaissance taste (1610), with a pretty high colonnade, in a Doric-Tuscan style, with round arcades. Leaving the Museum, we are in front of v.lo S. Giorgio that leads to homonymous little square, where stands the Church of St. George of very ancient traditions (VIII-IX sec.), but that was totally rebuilt in 1639 with the beautiful façade of seventeenth century, which rises on the top of marble staircase with two flights of the eighteenth century. ( Vicolo S. Giorgio is uphill with cobbled paving , somewhere uneven too.The church of S. Giorgio isn't accessible.).
From the church of S.M. del Carmine to the Torre della Pallata
We go down Via Gasparo da Salò, turn left into Via Pulusella and reach Via S. Faustino which we cross to enter Contrada del Carmine where there is the church of Santa Maria del Carmine ( - Access to the Church of Carmine from the backyard at n. 7 on v.lo Manzone, informing custodian.). Started in 1429 and finished in 1475, the church, in spite of the changes in the 16th and 17th cent., is an example of gothic architecture where the fired brick prevails, both glazed, in the yellow and green tiles framing the windows, and natural, in the façade and soaring sides. The facade, grand in its verticalness, is characterized by the pinnacles, by the cross undereaves trimming, by the high trilobated windows, framed by polychrome panels. The stone portal is double, very much splayed, with rope-like decorated columns and two Romanesque lions at both sides, made of red marble from Verona. The arched lintel with the Annunciation by Ferramola in the lunette is of the Renaissance age as well as the short side pillars and the architraveresting on the middle pilaster, refinedley decorated with candelabrum, putti and swags. On the pilaster at the right end of the facade there is a bas-relief of the early ‘400, the ‘Virgin with Child’. Flanking the church, along VicoloS.Faustino, to reach the back entrance, we can see the four panels with nobiliary coat of arms walled up in the right side coinciding with the respective chapels inside. The inside, rearranged in the 17th cent., has three naves with barrel vault in the central nave and cross vault in the minor ones and six chapels at the right side. The 17th cent. frescos (by Sandrini, Gandino, Barucco and Rama) create an impression of real solemnity; the three great medallions, the trompe d’oeil and the balconies in the central nave are remarkable. In the right nave we would like to point out: in the first chapel a fifteenth cent. fresco with two symmetrical scenes, the ‘Crowning of the Virgin’and the ‘Descent of the Holy Spirit’; in the second chapel there is the ‘Madonna degli Orefici’ by Giugno (16th cent). In the third chapel (the Averoldis’) there is a Crucifix painted by Foppa, like the beautiful frescos of the cross vault, the ‘Evangelists’ and the ‘Doctors of the Church’ (1475) ; in the fourth chapel there is the ‘Slaughter of the Innocents’by Pietro Marone, with monochrome frescos by Monti and Zanardi on the walls (1763); in the fifth chapel there is the ‘Madonna with Child and S. Albert’ by Tortelli and the ‘Deposition’ by Barucco. In the sacristy-chapel there are frescos of the 15th cent. by the Lombarda school like the ones in the chapel at the top of the nave, where there is a gothic tabernacle onto the right wall. In the presbytery, on a flight of steps with baroque balustrade, a couple of seventeenth cent. lamp holder angels made of stone, attributed to Carra; the altar is of the 16th cent. with frontal of polychrome marblesdivided by short pillars and, in the middle, a medallion in relief with the Annunciation. The ciborium is attributed to Corbarelli while the small angels above are attributed to Calegari (1672-1717). At both sides of the altar two doors lead into the choir; the jambs have four marble caryatids. In the background, in a magnificent gilt frame, with carved linked caryatids, there is an altarpiece with the ‘Annunciation’ by Pietro de Witte, il Candido (1595); above the ‘Virgin with Child’ by Cossali (second half of ‘500). In the choir and in the presbytery, seventeenth cent. frescos by Gandino, Bruni and Amigoni; beside the presbytery, in the beautiful wooden choir carved in 1676, there is an organ by Antegnati. In the left nave there is the remarkable chapel of ‘Il Compianto’, with the ‘Pietà’ by Mazzoni, clay statues of the Lombarda school of the 15th cent. and, on the left wall, a Quattrocento fresco. Above the next altars, against the wall, there are paintings by Marone, Zanetti, Gandino and Palma il Giovane. We point out: the frontal by Corbarelli in the third altar, the marble complex by Morlaiter in the fifth one (both 18th cent.) and the magnidicent marble altarpiece with statues of SS. Faustino and Giovita by Carra (17th cent.) in the eighth one. Going back to the small rear courtyard, past the polygonal apse, we find a chapel with a little cross vault and ogival apse; the frescos on the wall of the arch, ‘Madonna on Throne with Child’ and ‘Risen Christ’ (15th cent.) are by Ferramola; the frescos on the side walls, ‘Jesus and M. Magdalene’ and ‘Jesus Appearing to M. Magdalene Disguised as a Farmer’ (16th cent.), are attributed to Civerchio. Leaving the courtyard we turn left into Vicolo Manzone up to Via Bixio and Via Battaglie where, at n.58, we can admire Palazzo ‘Calini ai Fiumi’, now seat of the Faculty of Law. Built in the 16th cent. on a fifteenth cent. house, it has two twin sixteenth cent. portals with the arch framed by elegant pilasters and two tondi in high relief in the semi-pendentives; the facade, altered in the neoclassical age, is enriched with two bas-reliefs with coat of arms and insignia and a line of voluted brackets holding up the eaves. In the courtyard, completely restored, two arcades face each other with elegant columns with fluted capitals; at the east side there is a Ionic architraved loggia ( The last stretch of Vicolo Manzone is slightly steep and the paving up to Via Bixio is uneven; the entrance to Palazzo 'Calini ai Fiumi' has a steep ramp). In Via Battaglie, at the corner of Via Bixio, there is the ex-church of SS. Filippo and Giacomo, today Municipal Hall: built in the 15th cent. by the ‘Umiliati’, it was changed in the 17th cent. by the nuns of S. Augustin and in the 19th cent. by the Local Government who gave the facade a medieval style. Going on, at the corner of Via
Mameli, we find the medieval tower ‘Pallata’, built in 1248 on the third circle of the city walls (1186-1187) recycling material from roman remains. The name derives from a reinforcement fence or from the piling of the marshy soil. The tower (31,10 m.) , square planned (10,60 m. each side) has a massive scarp basement; the wall is in ashlar-work, interrupted by slits and edges protected by pilasters and it ends with terracotta merlons and a bell-tower with a zinced dome (1476-’81). On the west side: Romanesque panel of ‘Bishop S. Apollonio with Mitre and Pastoral Staff’ and the dial of the clock. In 1596 the fountain was erected, sculpted by Carra and Bonesini, designed by Bagnadore. A triton, Brescia and the rivers Mella and Garza are represented there.
From Contrada S. Giovanni to ‘Curt dei Pulì’
We walk along Corso Mameli following the roman consular road which led from Porta Bruciata to Bergamo. In the interior of a portico at the corner with C.da S. Giovanni ( The paving of Contrada S. Giovanni is even), we find the fountain of S. Giovanni, erected by the Town Council and Vicinia in 1826. At n. 11 C.da S. Giovanni there is Casa Lancini (today Bianchi Morini), rare example of fourteenth cent. Noble house with a portal in fired bricks and balcony with brackets. In front of it there is the church of S. Giovanni Evengelista ( The access to the church of S. Giovanni is even), with its cloister. Founded in the IVth century by S. Gaudenzio, as Concilium Santorum to worship the relics carried from the Holy Land, it was rebuilt at the beginning of the 13th century; in 1440 it was reconstructed in the present shape, while the interior was altered in the 17th century. The façade has the austere structure of the 15th century, with alternate courses of stone and brick and thin pilasters; the ogival arch in fired brick , on the left, is a remain from the Maggi Mausoleum, while the stone arch on the right comes from the tomb of the Paitone family. The elegant stone portal, with arch supported by two columns on high piers, is of the early 16th century; on the right a Renaissance little portico leads to the cloister. The interior has the latin cross structure with three naves , divided by imposing pillars; the wooden ‘soase’ carved and gilt, overlooking the refined altars with the frontals enriched with marbles, are really remarkable. Among the many paintings kept here we point out the Brescia fifteenth and sixteenth cent. works and particularly the works by Moretto and Romanino. In the right nave above the third altar, in a beautiful frame attributed to Lamberti, the ‘Slaughter of the Innocents’ (1531), one of the most beautiful paintings by Moretto; high above the fourth altar, the relics carried from Palestina by S. Gaudenzio, lower there are the relics of SS. Gaudenzio, Teofilo and Silvia; henceforth the chapel of ‘Madonna del Tabarrino’ where a marble yellow cloth supported by two white angels by Calegari (1660) frames the painting of ‘Madonna del Tabernacolo’, a copy of a fifteenth cent. fresco attributed to Moretto. In the apse, behind the high altar, there is a beautiful painting by Moretto, the ‘Virgin with SS. Giovanni Battista, Giovanni Evengelista, Agostino, Agnese e i Donatori’; below: ‘King David Playing the Lyre’ and, in the upper lunette, ‘God the Father’. Above the altar a wooden Crucifix of the second half of the 15th century. On the left of the presbytery there is the chapel of S. Maria of the 15th cent ( There are two steps up to the ante-chapel and one step up to the chapel of S.Maria) with the cycle of frescos by Paolo da Caylina il Vecchio (the Old) and il Giovane (the Young) and by Ferramola. Next there is the chapel of the SS. Sacramento, decorated by Moretto and Romanino in equal parts because of a contract stipulated in 1521 with the canons of the church, with the pictorial cycle about the theme of the ‘Glorification of Eucharist’. Above the altar, in the marvellous frame by Lamberti, the ‘Deposition’ by Zenale; in the predella, ‘The Last Supper’, made of wood , and in the lunette a work by young Moretto (1518-’20): the ‘Crowning of the Virgin’. Except these two works, the rest of the chapel is divided exactly between the two artists from Brescia: on the left side Romanino (1484-1560) portrayed: the ‘Resurrection of Lazzaro’, the ‘Supper in the House of the Pharisee’ (wonderful for the luminous reflections of the clothes), the “Evangelists Matteo and Giovanni”, the “dispute of Holy Sacrament” and on the intrados, six “Prophets”. On the right side, Moretto (1498-1554) painted “Elia awaked by an Angel” (remarkable for the shining colours and the beautiful landscape), the “Harvesting of the Manna” and the ‘Evangelists Luca and Marco’ (with the Broletto Tower in the background landscape), the ‘Last Supper’ (suggestive for the light coming down from the threemullioned window) and six ‘Prophets’ in the interior of the arch. In the left nave, above the eighth altar, there is a panel by the young Romanino, once in the church of S. Rocco, the ‘Madonna with Child and Saints’. In the baptistery, on the left wall, there is a juvenile work by Romanino, ‘Wedding of the Virgin’ (1515) of great colouristic and constituent power; on the right a beautiful painting by Raibolini, il Francia, ‘SS. Trinità and SS. Biagio, Marta, Maddalena, Barbara’ (early 16th cent.). From the sacristy, crossing the lobby with composite seventeenth cent. fountain and going past the Renaissance portal, we enter the elegant cloister ( Access to the cloister coming out of the sacristy (10 cm. step) and going into the entrance hall ) with double arcade (1487). On its portico with cross vaults there is a wide arcade which, doubling the number of the arches, lightens the construction. At the north side there are the lithic early-Christian finds. Going back to Corso Mameli, at the corner with Contrada delle Cossere, there is the “Mostassù” (dialect), a stone mascaron of late-roman age, whose nose, according to the tradition, was cut off in 1311 by order of Enrico VII. At n. 24 there is a house with important remains of the 13th and 14th cent., facing the palace of the ‘Magistrato della mercanzia’, seat of the Court of Trade during the Venetian government. Of the original sixteenth cent. architecture, the structure maintains the façade with the portal framed by classical pilasters and dominated by the statue of Justice and two little bas-reliefs representing the balance and the steelyard. At the opposite side, past a vault, there is the “Curt dei Pulì” (dialect), one of the most typical and secluded sites in Brescia ( The 'Curt dei Pulì' has cobbled paving) . According to the popular tradition, the small square, with an irregular shape, takes its name from a noble Polini who, exiled from Piemonte because of a duel against a Savoia, came to Brescia where he bought some houses to create his “court”. In the square there are two fountains: a central sixteenth cent. wash-tub and a wall fountain of neoclassical style. At one side there is a five spans colonnade with depressed arches, squat columns with Ionic capitals and cross vaults.
Duration of the itinerary: half day