Brescia I am told is in a bit of conundrum. It is surrounded by illustrious cousins Milan, Verona and Venice all about an hour’s drive away. Unfortunately for Brescia folks know this and pass through, even when they fly into Brescia’s Milan Bergamo airport to the more popular places as I did. I arrived at Milan’s Bergamo airport on a sunny Friday afternoon from London and without so much as acknowledging Brescia, I hopped onto a coach at the airport straight to Milan where I spent the rest of the day. However, as good fortune would have it I had a 50th birthday party to attend in Brescia so the lures of Milan could only keep me transfixed until the late evening when I took a shared cab, booked through bla bla cars back to Brescia. Our driver, Allesio, was delightful as were the other two Italians in the cab. One of the first questions Allesio asked was “why Brescia?” to which he added “There is nothing there!” I smiled nervously half hoping it would or couldn’t possibly be that bad.
The next day in Brescia was D-Day! This the most maligned northern Italian city had to offer me something to remember it by. It only had a day to woo me – one chance to make an impression.
Brescia is an industrial city and it showed. There seemed to be warehouses tucked aware in every corner on the outskirts. Most of the morning and afternoon was spent sampling s typical Italian breakfast and spending a couple of hours at a local Chinese buffet.
Early evening was reserved for exploring Brescia city centre.
The long stroll through the town centre was delightful. This was on the last day of November so folks were out in good numbers admiring the newly wheeled out Christmas decor and Christmas street lights. The shops, with their, Christmas themed products, buzzed with festive excitement. A stand which looked liked it had been temporarily put together and with people who looked like they were in fancy clothing caught my eye .They were a group of folks excited to be partaking in one of the traditional must dos during Christmas – Drinking mulled wine.
One of the main attractions in Brescia is the Duomo Nuovo. A brisk walk of a few minutes from the city centre was all it took to get there.
The green domed cathedral was built in between 1604 and 1825 on the square Piazza Paolo VI. Piazza Paolo VI itself was surrounded by a few restaurants and coffee shops. It would have been sacrilegious to have come to Italy without having an authentic Italian coffee.
My stroll led back into the main shopping area where I was impressed by the number of high end designer clothing shops. Most seemed to be on the high end side but perhaps not as dear as one would find in neighbouring Milan.
The stroll through the heart of Brescia ended about an hour later, just in time for dinner. Brescia had surprised me but not entirely because I had such low expectations for it. I was really pleasantly surprised by its civility, architecture and warm welcome. I do feel, however, that I did not explore this city in the same way I do others. I took it easy and was less bothered about visiting every “must see” attraction. Taking it easy is good, but I must admit a part of me wishes to get to know Brescia a bit more.