Just 50 km far from Verona is located Mantova, a city that you cannot avoid to visit. Mantova is situated in Lombardy. Visiting it you can breathe a particular atmosphere: a border place. It is a city in Lombardy, on the border with the Veneto region but of customs and traditions typical of emilian Po Valley.
The importance of the city dated back to the Middle Ages and the most important family: GONZAGA, who reigned over the city from 1200 to 1700.
Mantua is a city rich in history and culture and one day is not enough for a visit. So we will try to intrigue you here, launch you some tips rather than provide an exhaustive explanation of the city.
Reaching the city from the north, you will be facing an unexpected vision: the small lakes.
This water work dates back to the XII century when the hydraulic engineer Alberto Pitentino, on behalf of the City of Mantua, organized a defense system of the city modifying the path of the river Mincio so completely encircle the town with four lakes.
Mantua, in fact, was like an island.
Nowadays the lakes are navigable and can be seen numerous species of aquatic fauna and flora unusual for these areas and latitudes.
The monuments to visit are really a lot and we advise you to go already with an idea of what to visit. However you can take a single street where you will see St Peter’s Cathedral, with its facade made of white Carrara marble. (Inside, under the high altar is preserved the body of St. Anselm, the patron saint of the city. The Cathedral located in the monumental Piazza Sordello, is the bishopric of Mantua.
Further south the Basilica of St. Andrew, projected by Leon Battista Alberti, built starting in 1472. It tooks 328 years to complete its construction, but his vision will be easy to understand why!
NOTE: In one of the chapels is preserved the tomb of Andrea Mantegna painter of the Gonzaga court.
The Rotonda di San Lorenzo is the oldest church in the city, built in the XI century. The Rotonda di San Lorenzo is placed at a lower level of Piazza delle Erbe, and it houses a gallery and traces of Byzantine school frescoes.
It is a common history of many Municipal lordships of Italy, that the Gonzaga family who ruled the town gathered around him a number of artists including Andrea Mantegna, important Italian painter and engraver of the ‘500.
Andrea Mantegna (1431 -1506), a painter of perspective, in 1460 moved with the whole family in Mantua as official court painter, living at the court of the Gonzaga family until his death.
If Mantua was ruled by the Gonzaga family, in Verona there were the Scaligeri, in Florence the Medici, in Ferrara the Estensi, in Milan the Sforza, in Vicenza the Ezzelini. EVERY FAMILY MADE THE BEST AND PAYED LOT OF MONEY TO HAVE THE BEST ARTISTS AND ARCHTECTS OF THEIR TIME. IT WAS SYMBOL OF LUXURY AND POWER OF FAMILY!
… That’s why Italy is so rich in works of art!
Mantova also gave birth to the greatest poet of Latinity: VIRGIL. Born in 70 a.c. the poet reached the peak of his art with the ENEIDE, epic and celebratory poem most important antiquity (along the ILLIADE and ODYSSEY) that features the Trojan hero Aeneas.
A city with so much history, it is equally important in GASTRONOMY.
The Mantuan cuisine is very special and different from that of Verona. But it is worth trying. Typical dishes TORTELLI PUMPKIN, GNOCCO FRITTO and COPPA (a very special sausage), MOSTARDA eaten with boiled meat, typical cakes like SBRISOLONA, TAGLIATELLA and ELVEZIA (originally from Swiss confectioners “Putscher family” that had moved to Lombardy but still felt so homesick).
From a study of 110 Italian provinces on quality of life, Mantova is at the third place, after Trento and Bolzano in the Italian city where people live better (survey on the quality of the life led by the University La Sapienza in Rome for Italy today).
Since 2008 the city along with Sabbioneta, both united by the legacy left to them by Gonzaga (who made one of the main centers of the Italian Renaissance) has become UNESCO HERITAGE OF HUMANITY.