Walking from Iseo
When, on the bus to the hotel, my keen and enthusiastic companions ask why I’m returning to Iseo, I’ll reply:
There are towns which are prettier, there are towns which are richer, and there are towns which take more trouble to charm. But Brescia is the town you fall in love with. I’d take it home to Mother.
Brescia has something of all ages of Italy, from the elegant remains of its temple to the Capitoline Triad to the futuristic Piazza della Vittoria, opened in 1932 by the self-styled leader of a later Roman empire.
The town’s renaissance loggia has been attributed to a stunning range of Italy’s greatest architects. As you take coffee on the piazza (plaza) you can weigh up their respective contributions and debate which to visit: the castle arms museum where the style and craftsmanship would entrance the most ardent pacifist? Or the Santa Giulia museum with its treasures of medieval piety sharing a magnificent former monastery with sculpture and mosaics from Brixia’s Roman past? Or perhaps you’d care to accompany me to the art gallery which was closed on my last visit and promises some fine works by Foppa and Romanino.
There are also churches worth visiting, and two cathedrals. I first saw them standing side by side in a paved square. The next day it was all lawns, trees and flowers, like an English cathedral, laid out for a garden festival. I expect to find it Italian again.
The eleventh century Old Duomo is a rotunda of simple elegance, but as the Council of Trent opposed centrally planned churches Brescia’s sturdily baroque New Duomo has a presbytery added to an otherwise perfect plan.
And, I’ll add, when not taking the train to Brescia, I’ll be enjoying the great walking around Iseo.