We woke up to a sunny and warm spring day in Vedano. Katrina had to leave early for her driving exam. She actually took her drivers test today! I asked to her do a 'guest' blog about her experience, so I will leave the details to her.
Katrina arrived back home around 9:30, about the same time Mike showed up at our place. We were all heading to Brescia today.
Brescia is an industrial city located about 1 hour east of Milano. It is the capitol of the Lombardian province. It is less famous for its history and art than for its role as a primary manufacturing center. The large factories produce weapons, including the famous Beretta pistols, and cutlery and kitchen accessories. This industry had brought tremendous wealth to the city that it has expanded beyond its boundries to the point of creating an entirely second city with a very unimaginative name - Brescia 2. They didn't even use "Brescia Nuovo" (New Brescia).
Brescia 2, the name gave us all a good laugh.
Once in Brescia, we parked and walked towards the old city center. We love to wander the streets, look at the architecture, the shops and watch people.
For the motorcycles fans, I spotted this one parked on a side street.
Quick break in a piazza.
Brandon and I were hungry, so we found a small restaurant on a side street and had lunch. Mike had a pizza. Brandon had pasta con pomodoro. Katrina and I tried some true Bresciano food - canoncelli, homemade tortellini with beef, served with burro vesato (dropped butter), sage, and Parmigiana. Very rich, but very tasty.
Ok, this picture proves that food photography is an art form all on its own. The dish was very tasty and so much better than the photo portrays.
Brandon and Mike having one of their usual conversations related to science. I think this one was about how nuclear reactors work.
After lunch we wandered through town a bit more, deciding to make our way towards the castello. Along the way we discovered a few very interesting finds.
Interesting architectural elements
Up a narrow lane we found this building. The architecture was amazing, a combination of 'modern' building with 2000 year old Roman ruins. I'm inpressed with how they incorporated the ruins into the building, and even more impressed that they didn't just level the ruins to make way for the building.
The Roman building was once the Roman basilica that formed the southern end of the forum. The single large rectangular hall was used for various forms of business and administration of the city. In "Brixia" the basilica was both a symbol of independence and imposing power.
Around the corner from the basilica ruins is the piazza with more Roman ruins. When Brescia was under Roman rule, the square was the center of political, religious and commercial life. The forum dates to the first century of the christian era. It was surrounded by the Capitoline Temple and the basilica.
Small part of the Forum ruins
The Capitoline Temple was raised in 73-74 after Christ on top of the remains of the sanctuary dating back to the period of the Roman Republic. It was then demolished between the 5th and 6th centuries and buried due to a landslide. In the first decade of the 19th century a renovation plan was initiated with excavation and restoration works.
Narrow streets of Brescia
We made our way up the steep streets and paths to the castello. Dating to pre-Roman times and last fortified by the Venetian overlords of the 16th century, the city's stronghold houses museums of armory and of the Risorgimento - Italy's first struggles with independence and unification. The castle also offers fantastic views of the Alps and the city of Brescia.
Remnants of Venetian power, the Venetian Lion
Does anyone remember, from previous castello posts, what this is?
View of Brescia and the Alps
Taking a break and enjoying the view...and the beautiful weather.
Katrina spotted his doorway. Apparently there is a model train club in one of the lower rooms of the castle. Unfortunately, it is only open to the public on Sunday afternoons. I may need to make a trip back to Brescia.
We also found this old steam locomotive in one of the castle gardens.
After walking all around the castle, we made our way back down to the city. Brandon and I wanted to check out a hobby shop we spotted earlier. It had a lot of interesting things on the shelves, but nothing I really wanted to take home. It's still fun to browse occasionally.
We found the old Roman ampitheater on a side street near the model shop.
It was nearing 4pm and we were getting tired from all the walking. Our last two goals for the day were to find the Duomo Nuovo and Vecchio, and find some gelato. We managed to find both on the way back to the car.
The Duomos stand side by side. The big church is the new Duomo, built 150 years ago, with the third largest dome in Italy. The old Duomo is pre-renaisance, had a massive stone dome and 12th century crusifixes.
New and old Duomos side by side
Inside the new Duomo
Brescia comes alive after lunch. There really wasn't anyone out before lunch.
We found gelato then headed for home, a car full of tired sightseers. Mike ended up having dinner with us - burritos and spanish rice.
I love these day trips. They take us to new and interesting places with cool old towns, castles and food.