Brescia, the UNESCO Corridor opens: the monumental walkway connecting the Capitolium to the Santa Giulia Museum

In Brescia, the UNESCO Corridor opens to the public: a 2,500-year-long monumental walkway that connects the Capitolium area to the monumental complex of Santa Giulia

In Brescia, to coincide with the inauguration of the unprecedented Plessi sposa Brixia project, the UNESCO Corridor opens to the public on Friday, June 9, 2023: a 2,500-year-long monumental walkway connecting the Capitolium area to the Santa Giulia monumental complex. A project that guarantees for the first time ever to all visitors to remain immersed, visually and physically, in the historical monumental architectures, from the Roman age, and then traveling into the early Middle Ages and the Renaissance, seamlessly and without any interference between the present city and the aura of these ancient places.

Promoted by the Municipality of Brescia and the Brescia Musei Foundation, with the collaboration and support of the Brescia Chamber of Commerce and the CAB Foundation, in agreement with the Soprintendenza Archeologia Belle Arti e Paesaggio for the Provinces of Bergamo and Brescia and with the support of the Lombardy Region, the UNESCO Corridor was was conceived on the occasion of the celebration of the 10th anniversary of the inscription of the monumental complex of Santa Giulia and the Capitolium archaeological park in the UNESCO World Heritage List, within the serial site The Lombards in Italy. Places of Power (568-774 AD).

The urban compartment affected by this connection corresponds to thearea of the UNESCO site of Brescia, consisting of two museum sites visited separately so far, namely BRIXIA. Archaeological Park of Roman Brescia and the Museum of Santa Giulia, within which numerous monuments stand out in a continuous stratification, emblematic of the uniqueness of Italian historic centers.

With the opening of the Corridor, designed by Camillo Botticini and Matteo Facchinelli (Botticini + Facchinelli ARW Srl Stp), the UNESCO area is presented for the first time as a single, seamless museum area. Thanks to a path carved out by connecting passages and alleys, unified by asingle accessible pavement made of flamed Bedonia stone, with slopes that can be easily walked on for everyone, the exteriors of the main monuments from the Roman to the Renaissance age will guarantee a walk of rare beauty and immersiveness in a centuries-old history that unravels for a kilometer.

The pedestrian route, open free of charge, will follow a sequence that allows visitors to touch, from west to east (Capitolium area), the area of the temples, the theater, a medieval alley, (Santa Giulia area) the southern cloister of San Salvatore, the cloister of Santa Maria in Solario, up to the Viridarium of the Roman domus with contemporary art installations. The corridor also provides privileged access to the Santa Giulia auditorium, the venue for numerous public cultural events. The project of integration and equalization of the two museum sites now also finds physical unity represented, as of last January 24, by thesingle access ticket to the two museums, the UNESCO ticket generated for this purpose.

On the occasion of the realization of this route, Via dei Musei, too, as part of a wide-ranging project of new urbanization for the year of Italian Capital of Culture, by the Municipality of Brescia, has been provided with new paving, which in particular for the stretch extended from BRIXIA. Archaeological Park of Roman Brescia and the Santa Giulia Museum, features a different stone and texture from the rest of the street (Granodiorite with a flamed finish).

Entrances to the corridor are marked by steel thresholds bearing the name and logo of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, marking the boundary of this area returned to free use by all. The large spaces inside the Corridor can be considered to all intents and purposes new public squares, set in a unique monumental and architectural context.

It will always be accessible by passing through the UNESCO Corridor the body of the building between the cloisters of San Salvatore and Santa Maria in Solario, the so-called Fresco Rooms, embellished with this Renaissance pictorial decoration and a place for temporary exhibitions, accessible without the need for a ticket. In addition, in the cloister of Santa Maria in Solario, after careful archaeological verification in full respect of the ancient sediments on the site, a linden tree was planted to evoke the Manzonian memory dedicated to the myth of the Lombards. On the 150th anniversary of the death of Alessandro Manzoni, one of the most vibrant pages of the tragedy Adelchi is recalled with this plant, in which the death of Ermengarda, daughter of the Lombard king Desiderio, is described, when repudiated by Charlemagne she expires under the green foliage in the cloister, surrounded by the nuns led by her sister Anselperga. Visitors, seated in the new circular bench made as a frieze to the roots of the linden tree, can read Manzoni’s verses and retrace the myth of the Lombards in their imaginations.

Along the entire UNESCO Corridor there is new contemporary signage, specially designed and arranged along the route to ensure orientation and accessibility. Given the extent of the area, this is a design of considerable complexity and articulation that rationalized the stratigraphy of information that had added up at the two museum sites over the years.

The specific visual identity, designed by the Tassinari/Vetta studio, has thus endowed the route with an additional strong unifying feature, also involving Via dei Musei with the indication of the other cultural and archaeological emergencies south of the decumanus, in collaboration with the Province of Brescia. All signage and panels are in Italian and English, and there are orientation maps at both ends of the Corridor, in the Archaeological Park and in the ticket office of the Santa Giulia Museum. Accessibility to the entire corridor, in addition to being guaranteed by the route itself, is supported by tactile maps of the entire route. Two overall, placed at the east and west ends, and two additional tactile maps at the intermediate points of the Roman Theater and the cloister of San Salvatore, so as to ensure an explorable tactile description of the main structures present along the Corridor.

The architectural contexts of the Corridor are accessible externally without a ticket, during museum hours. The interior spaces, which detail thanks to the decorative apparatuses and museum sections the main moments in the history of Brescia and Europe, and which also for conservation reasons have limited capacities, will require as usual the ticket and the reservation of access time slots (in particular the hall of the Late Republicans sanctuary and that of the Capitolium where the Winged Victory is exhibited).

The creation of the UNESCO Corridor has resulted in a new fruitful opportunity for collaboration between Hdemia di Belle Arti Santa Giulia and Fondazione Brescia Musei. The students of the two-year specialized course in Communication and Art Didactics, as part of the Visual Communication Methodology Course held by Professor Eletta Flocchini and directed by Davide Bassanesi, proposed a reinterpretation of the UNESCO Corridor in an artistic and original key, through an animated short film using the plasticine technique shot in stop motion. The video shows the moment of the “creation” of the Corridor, which in turn imaginatively generates places and symbols of the historical-artistic heritage involved in the route.

The Corridor completes the path undertaken in 2019 connected to the New Capitolium and the Winged Victory to allow a complete and integrated fruition of ancient Brescia, from the Museum of Santa Giulia to Brixia. Archaeological Park of Roman Brescia and that, at the beginning of 2023, has been enriched by the new layout in the Museum of Santa Giulia related to The Roman Age - The City: an innovative museum route, marked by the most modern accessibility standards with multimedia art installations.

Two hundred years after the beginning of the archaeological survey campaign that led to the discovery of the Capitolium, the bronze deposit and the opening in 1830 of the Museo Patrio, for Brescia’s year as Italian Capital of Culture, the section that more than any other records the dynamic flow between research and enhancement has in fact been updated. The nineteenth-century documentation is enlarged in monumental sets within the halls; this is flanked by multimedia art installations with a contemporary language, which interpret and restore the themes of the museum section, evoking historical places and events with unconventional creative modes, testing new forms of storytelling for archaeology. The new museum intervention is enhanced by the inclusion of three immersive multimedia art installations, designed and created by the Italian interdisciplinary art studio focused on human-machine relations, NONE Collective. Like the UNESCO Corridor, the New Roman Age section also offers an accessibility path for use by people with disabilities. In addition to tactile orientation maps at the entrance to the route, all stone artifacts and a copy of the Flavian lady are tactile explorable by the blind and visually impaired. In addition, two models dedicated to the republican sanctuary and Capitolium and the public buildings of Brixia in Roman times, featuring specific textures, will be available for tactile explorations.

Fondazione Brescia Musei also presents the new Single Reservation Center, designed and conceived by architect Alessandra Dosselli.

The opening of the UNESCO Corridor is also an opportunity to dedicate the space in front of the entrance to the republican sanctuary to Gaius Elvius Cinna (88-44 B.C.), the only poet in Latin literature of Brescian, or at least Cisalpine, origin, author of love poems, of which only fragments remain.

“The inauguration of the UNESCO Corridor is the latest act in the major transformations and renovations launched by Fondazione Brescia Musei and the City Council in preparation for the Italian Capital of Culture,” said Fondazione Brescia Musei President Francesca Bazoli. “With today, our museum system is updated from the point of view of technology and the system of integrated offerings with entrance tickets consistent with the different museum areas and in particular with the identification in the UNESCO site of a single area that includes the Roman monumental area with the Winged Victory and the area of the Museum of Santa Giulia with the recently renovated Roman Age section. This is the realization of a project that appears to be entirely consistent with the original vocation of the places on which it insists but which was waiting for a small great intuition to succeed, with a few surgical interventions, in making accessible and walkable by all a landscape and monumental wonder that is ultimately the essence of splendid Italian cities such as ours.”

“When I took office as director of Fondazione Brescia Musei, I decided to address the issue of integrating Santa Giulia and the Brescia Archaeological Park,” added Stefano Karadjov, director Fondazione Brescia Musei. “From this need the UNESCO Corridor was born: an ’umbilical cord’ just under a kilometer long to pass through all the most beautiful spaces en plein air of the two museum sites allowing visitors to grasp their beauty from the inside and also making it accessible to the disabled and perfectly consistent with the visit to the museum collections contained within the exhibition halls. After almost four years since the beginning of our dreams, it is a great joy and pride to present today this unicum to the world: from the first century B.C. of the Republican Sanctuary to the 17th century of Santa Giulia passing through the temple, the theater, the Lombard monastery and the Romanesque oratory of Santa Maria in Solario. The great achievement is made possible by the trust of the regional and municipal cultural institutions and the Chamber of Commerce, which I thank wholeheartedly for their continued support for the transformation and redevelopment of our heritage.”

Image: Brixia. Brescia Roman Archaeological Park, the Capitolium. Credit Photographic Archive Civici Musei di Brescia. Photo by Tomás Quiroga.

Brescia, the UNESCO Corridor opens: the monumental walkway connecting the Capitolium to the Santa Giulia Museum
Brescia, the UNESCO Corridor opens: the monumental walkway connecting the Capitolium to the Santa Giulia Museum

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