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Among the treasures of medieval Brescia

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Brescia Church of San Faustino and Giovita

Piazza della Vittoria; Corsetto Sant'Agata; Piazza Rovetta; Contrada Gasparo da Salò; Church of San Giuseppe,  Museum of the Diocese and Liturgical Objects; Contrada Santa Chiara; Via San Faustino; Church of Santa Maria del Carmine; Via delle Grazie; Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie; Corso Garibaldi; The Pallata; Via Mameli; Church of San Giovanni Evangelista.

Starting from Piazza della Vittoria (tour 1) you turn into Corsetto Sant'Agata, where you will find the Church of Sant'Agata at the beginning of the road: it was built in the XV century and since then many alterations have been carried out, luckily without spoiling the general effect, which nowadays is typified by the lively baroque, architectonic decorations. The interior has a triple-bayed nave with domical vaults and tall clustered columns against the walls, The Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament (second on the right) should not be missed, nor the great fresco in the chancel which covers the wall of the apse: Christ Crucified, dating from the late XV century.

Further on from the church at no.22 you come to the Ken Damy Museum of contemporary photography, a cultural association where work by leading present-day photographers is on show. The museum is in part of Palazzo Lechi, also called Loggia delle Mercanzie, a building that is a conglomeration of medieval, XVI century and baroque, this aspect has been highlighted by the recent restoration work. It has a charming little loggia in the second courtyard and a fine Renaissance doorway.

Turning right  at the end of the road you find yourself in a place the Brescians call Piazza Rovetta, and you keep straight on towards north until you get to Via Gasparo da Salò . On the left near the beginning of this road you will see the church and monastery of San Giuseppe and the Diocesan museum.

Number 40 Via Gasparo da Salò is Casa Cavadini  with its neo-classical facade (in the entrance there is an opening through which a two-coloured mosaic can be seen; it belonged to the Roman baths that used to be here)  and the Church of San Giorgio, now under restoration, a very old building altered several times over the years and then completely reconstructed in the mid-XVII century.

Further along the road changes name and becomes Contrada Santa Chiara, where at no. 50 there is the former Convent of Santa Chiara, which houses the Economics Faculty of the University. It was built in the XIII century at the foot of the Cidneo hill, rebuilt in the mid-XV century and later altered. The XVIII century flight of marble steps in baroque style designed by Ascanio Girelli is particularly striking.

Number 43 is the entrance to the Teatro S.Chiara, which, before it was transformed into a theatre, was an XVIII century church with frescos and stucco work. It is now the permanent home of the Loggetta theatre company.
Turning the corner into Via della Rocca you skirt the building that borders the Cloister of San Faustino to the north; this cloister is part of the former Benedictine monastery which now houses the administrative and representative offices of the University of Brescia. Recent restoration work has brought to light frescos by Gian Domenico Tiepolo in the impressive XVI century cloister and in some other interior rooms.

The road ends in Piazzale Cesare Battisti, where once the gate in the city walls called Porta Pile stood. The neo-Gothic building with square-topped crenellations, built after the walls were demolished at the end of the XIX century, used to be the toll house. Then you turn into Via San Faustino, which runs along the north side of the working-class Carmine district and ends in Piazza della Loggia (tour 1 ). The road is wide from beginning to end because it follows the course of the Garza, a stream which, together with the Bova and the Celato, flowed through this part of the city and provided water for the water-mills, and spinning mills, but above all for the many tanneries along its course.
Walking along the street, after passing the entrance to the cloisters, you will see the imposing facade of the Church of Saints Faustino and Giovita, the patron saints of the city, who are remembered on February 15th with religious services and a great fair with hundreds of stalls from all over Italy set up in the roads and squares of the city centre.

Halfway down Via San Faustino you turn right into Contrada del Carmine, a long thoroughfare that cuts across one of the most densely populated districts of the town that already in Roman times was inhabited by artisans and shopkeepers. The  typical houses of this part of the city are built in tall terraces with shops or work rooms on the ground floor and loggias covered by the roof on the top floor, for drying tanned leather or hanging dyed cloth out to dry. A short way along you will see the magnificent stone and brick facade of the Church of Santa Maria del Carmine, a fine example of Gothic architecture, built between 1429 and 1475 next to the Carmelite monastery founded here in the XIV century. The Lombard Gothic structure of the church was spoilt in part in the XVI century when alterations were carried out which entailed walling up some oblong windows and changing the original pointed arches into rounded ones. There are numerous interesting works of art inside the church, including the fresco, the Crucifixion by Vincenzo Foppa painted between 1475 and 1477 (in the third chapel on the right); the altar piece above the high altar, the Annunciation by Peter de Witte, donated in 1536 by Duke Renato of Bavaria; the painting is mounted in a precious gilded wooden frame which also contains the canvas by Grazio Cossali (1563 - 1626), the Virgin and Child distributing Scapulars. There are seventy-five wooden choir-stalls along the wall of the apse (XV - XVI century) and a group of ten life-size, coloured terracotta statues, Mourning the Death of Christ (second or third decade of XVI century), which are remarkable for their dramatic sculptural quality stands in the De Rosis chapel at the top of the left aisle. The chapel at the end of the right hand aisle, used as the vestry, contains numerous remains of Lombard-school frescos (1423 - 1450). A door at the end of the aisle gives onto a courtyard, where the outside of the polygonal apse (1471 - 1478) of the church is visible: A chapel opening off the courtyard on the right has interesting frescos from c.1510 by Floriano Ferramola and Vincenzo Civerchio.
The three cloisters of the former Carmelite monastery are next to the church, with access from Vicolo dell'Anguilla no.8, two of them run along the east side of the church and the third, smaller one, is to the west: this is the XIV century Chiostro piccolo (small cloister) with two orders of rounded arches. Next comes the Chiostro maggiore (greater cloister) (1478) with a fountain in the middle dating from the XVI century, the alterations to the north and west sides belong to the same period. The Chiostro meridionale (southern cloister), which was built in 1521 and reconstructed in the XVIII century opens off the south side.

A little further along Contrada del Carmine going eastwards you come to the crossroads with Via delle Battaglie , where on the right at no.32 you will find ex-Casa Averoldi, an XVI century mansion with an imposing doorway. Via delle Grazie, a turning off Via delle Battaglie, is a road with many eighteenth-century, noble palaces, among which : no.23, Palazzo Torriceni, built in 1780 to a design by the architect Turbini and probably later modified by Rodolfo Vantini (1832); no.19, Palazzo Fenaroli, dating from the second half of the XVIII century; Palazzo Caprioli, whose XVII century doorway gives onto Via Capriolo no. 48, still has traces of frescos on its facade and on the side wall along Via delle Grazie, some of these were painted by Pietro Marone in 1591 and others are from a still earlier date. Past the Basilica di Santa Maria delle Grazie, with a sober Renaissance facade in contrast with its elaborate baroque interior, there is Palazzo Maffei at no.18, before the crossroads with Via Garibaldi. It was built in the XVII century and enlarged in the XVIIIth and has a facade decorated with representations of human heads and pieces of armour placed between the great bosses on the portal.

Turn right into Via Giuseppe Garibaldi towards west, here you will find a busy street lined with shops, which stretches from the square of the same name, where there is a monument to Giuseppe Garibaldi inaugurated in 1889 ( sculpted by Eugenio Maccagnani, who interpreted an idea of the architect Antonio Tagliaferri) to the Torre della Pallata, this XIII century tower is one of the most important medieval monuments in the city and is a symbol of Brescia.It is 31 metres high and covers an area of 10.6 metres. When it was constructed a great deal of building material from Roman ruins was used. The fountain set into its base on the side facing Via Pace, is the work of of Antonio Carra (1596) to a design by Pietro Maria Bagnadore. The figures represent an armed Brescia holding a cornucopia and two rivers: the Garza and the Mella.

To the left of the tower you turn into Via Mameli , a narrow shopping street, with a neo-classical fountain on the corner with Contrada S. Giovanni , a brief detour down this contrada takes you to the Church of San Giovanni Evangelista (Saint John the Baptist), famous for the decoration of the Capella del Santissima Sacramento, the work of Moretto and Romanino

If you walk along Via Mameli towards Piazza della Loggia, you will find the Mostassù delle Cossere set into the corner of a palace on the right-hand side of the road. The strange, big stone face has its nose broken off, according to legend this was done by Henry VII in 1311, when he was infuriated with the Brescian people, who held out against his siege.
Number 27 is the XVI century Palazzo del Magistrato della Mercanzia , which was altered when the portico and interior were restored by the architect Egidio Dabbeni (1925). Opposite, on the corner of Via Valerio Paitone, there is a medieval house with parts remaining from the XIII century and, a little further to the east, the entrance from Via Mameli of the Curt dei Pulì (Cortile dei Polini), where a house with a large covered roof terrace can be seen and two fountains, one in neo-classical style against the wall and the other, a medieval drinking trough, which supplied all the homes round the courtyard with water.

Tour duration: half day
Information:
Infopoint Turismo, tel. 030.2400357 infopoint@comune.brescia.it
Infopoint Stazione, tel. 030.8378559 infopointstazione@comune.brescia.it