Steeped in a unique landscape where nature is at it most verdant, the province of Brescia is a land of scenic beauty enshrining a host of locations of archeological, artistic and historical interest.
Brescia Province extends between the Po Valley, the pre-Alpine mountains and the Trompia Valley.
The largest province in Lombardy, it includes three beautiful lakes (Garda, Iseo and Idro) and three valleys (Camonica, Trompia and Sabbia).
The landscape is varied, from the small marinas of Lake Garda and the green hills of Franciacorta to the ski slopes, small villages and historical town centers, not to mention the remains of ancient Camuni settlements. Long before the Gauls, in fact, in pre-historic times, the land was inhabited by a Ligurian people, the Camuni, who left behind the richest collection of expressive forms before the invention of writing in Valcamonica and Capo di Ponte.
The entire area has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Province of Brescia is regarded as one of the most ancient and beautiful cities in Italy, its urban and architectural heritage manifest in its main squares: Piazza del Foro, Piazza del Duomo, Piazza della Loggia and Piazza della Vittoria.
It also boasts monuments such as the Tempio Capitolino, the Complesso di Santa Giulia, the Duomo Vecchio and the Duomo Nuovo, the Broletto, the Loggia, the Castello and the Teatro Grande.
Several Provincial archaeological museums house relics from the Bronze Age and subsequent eras. Not to be missed are the museums of Boario Terme, Valle Sabbia, Gottolengo and Sirmione, a lovely town famed for its spa on a slender peninsula in Lake Garda. Then, Desenzano boasts its typical old marina and a 16th-Century Cathedral.
The fortification of Borgo San Giacomo is worth a visit, as are the eight nearby castles: Farfengo, Padernello, Motella, Acqualagna, Villagana and Villachiara. The ancient Basilica of Verolanuova and the Romanesque Church of San Patrizio are also of great historical interest, while Lakes Garda, Iseo and Idro offer views that over the years have inspired so many poets, e.g. Catullus, Dante, Joyce and Gabriele D’Annunzio.
The latter once resided at the Vittoriale degli Italiani at Gardone, the estate he built and donated to the Italian people before his death.
In the Province of Brescia, nature lovers can enjoy an excursion to Valcamonica aboard a small train that snakes its way through Medieval villages and on to the Val Trompia, in the shadow of pristine mountains. This is an ideal location for sports enthusiasts and for those who simply wish to relax at spa resorts like those in Boario, Sirmione, Gardone Riviera, Limone sul Garda and Ebrusco.
The mountains, with the perennial snows of the Passo Del Tonale, form a natural amphitheatre at the border between Lombardy and Trentino, and offer opportunities for skiing year-round, with plenty of slopes to choose from and modern ski-lifts.
And trails abound for trekking, cycling and mountain-biking in Valcamonica, including the Stelvio and Adamello Parks.
Or, spend a charming weekend following the local wine routes.
Franciacorta, for instance, can be explored by car, bike or motorbike; experience its multi-colored scenery, its rolling hills from Brescia to Lake Iseo, and the ancient abbeys, palaces, castles, monuments and villas. Not only, but its prestigious wineries demonstrate how the exquisite and world-renowned sparkling wine of Franciacorta is made. Other wine routes cover the wines of Garda and of the Colli (Hills) Longobardi.
Lake Iseo, boasting the largest lake island in Europe, Monte Isola, offers sports such as paragliding and sailing.
Meanwhile, automobile enthusiasts should not miss Italy's Millemiglia, a nationwide, multi-day parade of the world’s finest vintage cars that begins in Brescia every year.
The cuisine of the Province of Brescia is both traditional and modern at the same time, and even varies depending on the location. The area surrounding the lake district is renowned for its fish dishes, cooked in every imaginable way.
In the mountains, pasta dishes are made with aromatic herbs and different types of cheese, such as the tasty Bagoss.
In the area south of Brescia, where animal cultivation and hunting are traditional, the sausages and game are excellent.
The mild climate on the banks of Lakes Garda and Iseo is ideal for olive growing; thus among the typical products of Lombardy is olive oil. The extra-virgin olive oil produced around Lake Garda possesses exceptional taste and aroma, confirmed by its P.D.O. label.
The typical dish of Valcamonica is sheep sausage, chopped lean meat mixed with skimmed broth of sheep bones. Another Valcamonica product is the strinù, local salame cooked on charcoal or a hot plate, or even boiled.
Finally, the stuffed pigeon is cooked in accordance with Brescian tradition (it should be accompanied by a wine the caliber of the Valcalepio red). Among the cheeses are the Stilter from the Alpine foothill zone, Casolet Dell’Amadello, and the sweet-flavored Formagelle from Lake Iseo. And finally… wine: connoisseurs and novices both must try Franciacorta. Then, among the D.O.C. wines are Botticino, Capriano del Colle, Trebbiano e Rosso and Cellatica. Lake Garda D.O.C. wines include San Martino Della Battaglia and Lugana, along with several classic reds and whites.