Time Travel in Brescia: Roman Times to Today


"The history of mankind is the instant between two strides taken by a traveler." — Franz Kafka

A week ago today I was walking through Brescia, Italy with my private guide, learning about the town, its history, and its future too. Since 2015 Italy has annually named an Italian Capital of Culture, and for the first time in 2023, Italy gave two cities the title: Brescia and Bergamo, neighboring towns in the Lombardy region of Northern Italy. The reason is both somber and celebratory. They were hit first and hardest by the pandemic in Italy. Speaking with my guide about those early days, we realized the kinship New Yorkers have now with people here, what we've been through, what those days were like for both of us. Now Italy's spotlighting Brescia and Bergamo for happier reasons - for all to return and enjoy these beautiful destinations again.

Strolling through Brescia, signs of preparation for 2023 were everywhere. I saw remarkable churches with tarps up inside covering restorations in progress, watched as workers repaved stone roads by hand, and even behind me in the photo above, specialists were carefully cleaning the ruins below. Ads for the 2023 festivities were on banners and buses. Brescia is getting ready to show off!

Brescia is a pleasantly walkable, compact city with redesigned traffic to allow pedestrians only into public squares where notable architecture had been taken for granted before. There are four main squares, and to see them in order is like walking through pages of a history book from ancient Roman to Renaissance, Venetian, and even fascism. Piazza della Vittoria features impeccable examples of fascist era architecture and is maybe my favorite because it's so fascinating. When the square was inaugurated in 1932 for the tenth anniversary of fascism, Benito Mussolini himself gave a speech here.

You'll definitely want to visit the the Archaeological Park of Roman Brescia - the largest and best preserved Roman archaeological area in Northern Italy and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. While here, buy a ticket for the underground sights (even older Roman ruins!) just below me in the photo above, and you can also once again view one of the world's most important bronze statues: Winged Victory - a powerfully evocative symbol for this resilient city, across the ages.

For LOTS more photos of my trip to Italy last week, head to Nine Muses Travel's Facebook and Instagram. Links are down below. Grazie mille!

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