I’ve checked my “Blog Post Request Book“, and “Opera and shopping malls in Brescia” has zero votes. So here its is while I countdown to the glorious 4th.

At the tail-end of my illustrious NHS career I managed to cadge a couple of lecturing gigs at the University of Pavia just south of Milan.


I could be there tomorrow !

Pavia is a wonderful city, akin to Cambridge or Durham, with a scary student bar which was open till 3am in order to ruin your presentation the next morning.

Black Bull. They were showing Madrid v City too
Selling Wylam to unsuspecting Italian students

Milan was also falling hard for UK craft in the winter of 2014; I actually saw Bombardier on handpump in a sports bar there.

But it was unsung Brescia that wowed me on that visit. In England it would be somewhere on the scle between Salisbury and Bath (no, not Warminster); smart, hard-working, ancient.

EVERYONE walked twice the speed they do in Cambridge. My £35 hotel even had a swimming pool, useless in November.

Duomo – Photo by Wolfang Moroder
Old town – Photo by Wolfang Moroder

After a session on the BrewDog (later, later) in the craft bar, I somehow ended up outside the Opera House at 8.15 and thought “Why not“.


Posh programme

A bemused lady eyed up the scruffy tourist in jeans, charged me what seemed a bargain 40 euros, and stuck me in an elegant box with an elderly Brescian whose only word of English was “Magnifico !”. It probably was, too.

Can you spot me ?
Know all the words now

This was one of those modernised Mozarts, set in a garage last used for the video of “Uptown Girl“.  Perhaps Mozart set it in a garage too.  Impressive if not moving.

At half-time I set off for a pint of Peroni, but the bar was not for folk like me.

NOT a Sam Smiths pub

In truth I’d drunk enough, having visited Brescia’s famous craft bar earlier. It’s next to the new shopping centre behind the station with the arty toilets;

Can you spot me (2)

Xander had a handpump in late 2014.  It still does.

Shaky photo from eyes moist at sight of cask after 2 days away

Though these days you get homebrew, made in a classier type of shed.

Vulgar IPA

It was a great place, and not just because of all the free snacks (“Cichetti” ?) and bickering.  This is a (cheaper) Port St Beer House, except everything is in litres.

And because it’s got a handpump, it really ought to get in the GBG.  Just to annoy BRAPA.



5 thoughts on “BRIXTON TO BRESCIA

  1. Well I’ll be knackered with a knicker knacker noo – as my old dad used to say… High culture meets beer blog and instead of making me scurry to find some obscure alt/indie/female folk singer and lamenting the lack of prog…..we get some glorious opera 🙂 Love it !

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I’ve never been to Pavia or Brescia, but am nostalgic for them all the same after reading your post. There is a special affection for a trip that was made ostensibly for business, but remains, in your memory, a straight-up glorious vacation in distant lands.

    For me, the equivalent was a small comic book convention I was (quite miraculously) invited to in Tenerife. Looking back, I feel appalled at myself for having utterly failed to explore the place as much as I should have. Still, lovely memories of those days.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. As you said the other day Mark, you need to visit any place several times to get a feel for it. We stayed in Tenerife for a week and drove round, dominated by Mount Teide but lots of un-touristy villages.

      You’d love the North Italy cities; Bergamo (suffered horribly from Covid) is wonderful.

      Liked by 1 person

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