Dwight Peck's personal website
Trento and Brescia, December 2013
A week's sightseeing in the Trentino-Alto Adige autonomous region
and Brescia in Lombardy
You may not find this terribly rewarding unless you're included here, so this is a good time for casual and random browsers to turn back before they get too caught up in the sweep and majesty of the proceedings and can't let go.
We've been over the Simplon Pass, braved the horrific truck traffic on the Milan-Venezia autostrada, made our way up along the river Adige to Trento, and taken in lots of the local attractions of the region. Now we're moving on to Brescia, the "Leonessa d'Italia".
Here we are at the L'Altana City House, reasonably priced and dead centre in the city. That's our front door. Hello? Knock knock! Anyone?
And that's our little flat (as it turns out), up there.
On this dead end street, the Contrada delle Cossere, which ends right here.
A view from our room. The L'Altana City House comprises several flats in this 14th century building owned by a family that operates a boutique shoe store on the ground floor, and the young lady and young gentleman who settled us in couldn't have been more warmly welcoming and helpful.
The Castle of Brescia, on the hill called the Colle Cidneo, is high on our sightseeing agenda.
Our little flat on the fourth floor, bedroom and kitchen, and . . .
. . . the view from the bathroom.
We're stepping out now, and our traveling companion, Squirrel, will have to wait for us here.
Dieter our VW friend will have to wait for us down in the little courtyard for the next few days.
This is the family's very nice footware boutique on the Corso Mameli
A brief scouting mission along the Corso Memeli
The Torre delle Pallata clocktower
The base of the Torre della Pallata and its rather vile fountain
Now, back towards this part of the city centre, organized around the famous Piazza Loggia.
The astonishing Piazza Loggia, an exemplary Renaissance civic space
The Palace of the Loggia, now the city hall, begun in 1492, completed in 1574, with such luminaries as Palladio, Sansovino, and Leon Battista Alberti on the architectural project team. (Titian had three nice paintings up in the main hall, but they burnt up in a fire in 1575 alas.)
The Piazza Loggia again, facing the long loggia at the far end: the New Duomo is the big green dome in the adjoining piazza. The buildings on the right (southern) side were for the Pawnbrokers.
A zoom of the tower of the Broletto, or medieval town hall, and the dome of the New Cathedral
More of the loggia on the eastern side of the piazza. (It was in a rubbish bin on the eastern side of the square that right-wing terrorists placed a bomb in May 1974, leaving eight people dead.)
The 15th century mechanical clock tower on the east side of the piazza
From the Via 10th Giornate, we're going over to see the cathedrals in the Piazza Paolo VI. The city centre's still laid out on the original Roman grid plan.
The Duomo Vecchio ("La Rotonda"), a Romanesque church dating from the 11th century, built over a 6th century basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore. Improvements were made in the 13th century!
And alongside it, the Duomo Nuovo, constructed between about 1600 and the early 19th century in a more or less Palladian style. To the left, the 12th century Broletto or medieval city hall, with the 12th century bell tower, the Torre del Popolo.
The façade of the New Cathedral
The complex of old and new cathedrals, as bells are ringing out from somewhere.
There it is, from that sneaky little belfry back in the middle of all the sacred brickwork.
A panoramic shot of both new and old cathedrals. They're closed now, of course, but that's only a temporary setback.
Government functionaries toiling away in elegant surroundings
A statue of a gentleman in a funny coat on a pre-planned bad hair day
The Capitolium, archaeological adventures in the heart of ancient Brixia, at the foot of the Colle Cidneo: Cidnus's Hill, named for the legendary Bronze Age king of the Ligurians, who may have founded the city. That's no more improbable than another alternative, that it was founded by Hercules during his many heroic travels.
Most likely, we hear, the city was founded by Etruscans, and then overrun in the 4th century BC by Celtic Gauls called the Cenomani -- the Romans, tidying up after the Second Punic War, took over around 200 BC and the locals decided to assimilate (they got Roman citizenship in 41 BC). Brixia flourished under the Empire, as a civil colony established in 27 BC, and got the full allotment of temples, theatre, aqueduct, forum, baths, and a beneficial link of the Roman Imperial road network.
Roman auctoritas was not, however, eternal, and as the Western Empire was whimpering towards a disorderly end, Alaric and his Visigoths, wandering around northern Italy waiting for the Emperor Honorius to make good on his promises, sacked Brescia in 402 (and Rome in 410). [The Huns sacked Brescia again in 452.]
The basilica of San Salvatore within the monastery
The San Salvatore monastery (also called the Santa Giulia, and presently the Brescia Museum) was founded in 753 by Desiderius, later king of the Longobards who ruled northern Italy. Anselperga, his daughter, was the first abbess, and Desiderata (or Ermengarda, or Gerperga), another daughter, who'd been temporarily bestowed upon Charlemagne in marriage, spent her exile here after Charlemagne changed his marital mind in 771. (King Desiderius then gave refuge to Charlemagne's sister-in-law, Gerberga (not Gerperga), and her children fleeing after her husband Carloman's death, so Charlemagne invaded Italy in 773 and sorted them all out. Thus ending the two-century regime of the Longobards in northern Italy.)
We collect Last Supper paintings in an unfinished quest to figure out what the holy chaps were supposed to be eating (besides bread). This looks like one rat for all 13 diners.
Poor little thing (by Paolo da Caylina the younger, ca. 1525). Compare this rat by Alonso Vazquez, now in Seville.
An evocative St George, with weapons and armor pasted on on top of the painting (ca. 1455).
A very pretty Serpent-in-the-Garden but not really seductive
Antonio Rasio (late 17th century) was another one of those fruit-and-vegetable painters; this is Autumn, and all the seasons are here.
This brilliant "winged victory" was found in the Capitolium digs, a lost-wax bronze probably from the 2nd century AD. They say she was probably holding a military shield with the name and deeds of some vainglorious local hero on it. (There's a theory that that was originally a Venus, and some victorious person had the wings stuck onto her with a new dedication to his own good self.)
The area at the foot of the Colle Cidneo was a residential district in Roman times, and the fact that the San Salvatore/Santa Giulia monastery was built over them in 754 has preserved their structures better than they would have been if everything had been torn up for tramways and modern plumbing.
This excellent exhibit features the excavations of two upscale homes built with their gardens up the hillside above the decumanus maximus or High Street, which is now the street facing the Capitolium, the Piazza del Foro, site of the Roman forum, and the San Salvatore monastery.
The homes excavated here date from the 1st century BC.
Occupation of these high quality living arrangements can be dated through to the 4th century AD.
Please do not open the allarmed zone
-- I know what I want, and I want it now.
The monastery here is one of the seven Italian properties listed by the UNESCO World Heritage Convention under the collective name "Longobards in Italy, Places of Power (568-774 A.D.)".
We collect Judith-plus-nurse and Holofernes paintings. Anything in the beheading motif, actually.
We're looking down into the basilica of San Salvatore from the Nuns' Choir, as I recall.
And this (as I recall) is the Nuns' Choir; not bad at all.
The nuns' view of the rest of the world.
A side chapel with audio-visual facilities
The basilica di San Salvatore
Fresco narrative series
Biblical tales, probably
A side chaptel of the basilica
Ouch! A 17th century 'Saint Giulia Crucified', not fun at all. (According to the literature on-site, only two female saints were actually crucified, and Giulia was one of them. I've forgotten the other.)
But quite apart from crucifixion, on this sarcophagus muscular soldiers, for some reason fighting their battles naked, are taking out their frustrations on female Amazon warriors.
This is much classier than our garage in Féchy (which is actually in the village bomb shelter).
and suggestions are welcome if positive, resented if negative, .
All rights reserved, all wrongs avenged. Posted 21 January 2014.