An Italian Holiday

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An Italian Holiday

Sunday, 21 April 2024 | Pawan Soni

An Italian Holiday

Brescia offers a perfect blend of history, natural beauty, and culinary delights, its ancient ruins, the relaxing Lake Garda, or the vineyards of Ca’del Bosco, this little known part of Italy is sure to enchant you, says PAWAN SONI

We have long known Milan as the fashion capital of the world. The city’s Galleria Vittorio Emanuele, a luxury shopping complex, is home to many big designer brands. However, Northern Italy offers much more than just Milan’s Duomo.

Boasting a history dating back to 753 BC and inhabited for over 850,000 years, Italy is a destination known for its museums, cathedrals, churches, and more. On this trip, I ventured to the Brescia province near Milan, an ancestral town less touristy than Milan. In fact, most Italians I spoke with had yet to explore Brescia, which is also part of the Lombardy region.

To reach Brescia, I boarded a local train from Milan Centrale railway station. This station is a sight to behold, with its beautiful and elegant architecture rivaling many tourist attractions worldwide. The 70-minute train ride cost just €7.5 and offered a glimpse into local life. Amidst reading, chatting, and enjoying the ride, I hardly noticed any tourists. The view outside was breathtaking, overlooking farms, factories, canals, and the elegant Alps mountains.

Nestled in Lombardy, Brescia is the region’s second-largest city, often overshadowed by its more famous neighbours. However, this hidden gem has much to offer, including a rich history and picturesque surroundings. It has been a major industrial hub since pre-Roman times.

History enthusiasts will be thrilled by Brescia’s well-preserved Roman ruins, such as the Capitolium and the Teatro Romano. The Capitolium, a temple dedicated to the Capitoline Triad of Jupiter, Juno, and Minerva, stands as a testament to the city’s ancient past. The Teatro Romano, an ancient Roman theatre, provides a glimpse into Brescia’s theatrical traditions.

Capriano del Colle, a small commune known for its wineries, houses the municipal department in Palazzo Bocca, a building with rich heritage dating back to the late 17th century. I had the pleasure of enjoying a meal, courtesy of the Italian Trade Agency, in this beautiful landmark building.

A highlight of visiting Brescia is a trip to Lake Garda, a short drive away. Italy’s largest lake, Lake Garda, is renowned for its crystal-clear waters and picturesque towns. Sirmione, with its medieval castle and natural hot springs, is a popular destination for those seeking relaxation.

For wine lovers, a visit to Ca’del Bosco is a must. This renowned winery produces Franciacorta sparkling wines using the traditional Champagne method. Visitors can tour the vineyards and cellars and enjoy a tasting of the winery’s exquisite wines. The vineyard’s beauty rivals that of any tourist destination, with the bottling plant and cellar areas artistically designed. This destination deserves at least half a day of your time and is one of the most beautiful vineyards I have visited.

No visit to Brescia is complete without exploring the iconic Vittoria Alata, or Winged Victory, a stunning marble statue dating back to the Roman era. This masterpiece, depicting the goddess Nike, is a symbol of Brescia’s rich history and is housed in the city’s Santa Giulia Museum, located in a former monastery with roots tracing back to the 8th century.

Just a short distance from Brescia lies the serene beauty of the Iseo Lake area, surrounded by picturesque towns like Iseo and Sarnico. This area offers a peaceful retreat from city life, with leisurely walks along the lake, exploration of charming villages, and savouring of delicious local cuisine. Monte Isola, Italy’s largest lake island, is a must-visit, offering stunning views and a tranquil atmosphere.

Brescia offers a perfect blend of history, natural beauty, and culinary delights. Whether exploring ancient ruins, relaxing by Lake Garda, or sipping fine wine at Ca’del Bosco, Brescia is sure to enchant you.

(Author is a food critic and founder of the Big F Awards. He can be reached at

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