The city is the administrative capital of the Province of Brescia, one of the largest in Italy, with about 1,200,000 inhabitants. The ancient city of Brixia, Brescia has been an important regional centre since pre-Roman times. A number of Roman and medieval monuments are preserved, among the latter the prominent castle. The city is at the centre of the third-largest Italian industrial area, concentrating on mechanical and automotive engineering and machine tools, as well as Beretta and Fabarm firearm manufacturers. Its companies are typically small or medium-sized enterprises, often with family management. The financial sector is also a major employer, and the tourist trade benefits from the proximity of Lake Garda, Lake Iseo and the Alps. With 195,375 arrivals, Brescia is the fourth most visited city in Lombardy after Milan, Bergamo and Como.
The plan of the old town is rectangular, and the streets intersect at right angles, a peculiarity handed down from Roman times. The area enclosed by the medieval walls is larger than that of the Roman town, which occupied the north-eastern quarter of the current "Centro storico".
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