Mantova, also known as Mantua, makes for another gorgeous jaunt when exploring northern Italy. It flourished during the Renaissance and still features to this day most of the architecture and historic landmarks of that period – giving the city a storybook atmosphere that visitors often…
Mantova, also known as Mantua, makes for another gorgeous jaunt when exploring northern Italy. It flourished during the Renaissance and still features to this day most of the architecture and historic landmarks of that period – giving the city a storybook atmosphere that visitors often fall in love with. Aside from its rich history and affluent architecture, the city has plenty of green space and stunning scenery for those who love the outdoors.
Mantova is strategically located by the River Mincio and flanked by the three lakes of Lago Inferiore, Lago di Mezzo and Lago Superiore. So, it is not all about history and beautiful architecture when you get there. Rent a bicycle and pedal your way across a network of bike trails that will take along picturesque lake promenades and scenic woodlands. You can also hop on a boat and cruise down the River Mincio or Lago Superiore. The city is also home to Mincio Natural Park where you can go for wildlife watching.
Mantova is famous for its captivating Renaissance character. Most of its attractions date back to that period and being there almost transports visitors to the time of affluent royals, inspired artistry and burgeoning intellectual pursuits. The Ducal Palace of Mantova is the area’s biggest attraction and symbolic of its grandeur. This magnificent palazzo was home to its former rulers – the Gonzaga family – from 1328 to 1707.
This 500-room royal abode features superb craftsmanship. Although there is not much artwork and furnishings to see, its exquisite frescoes more than make up for it – the Camera degli Sposi or Bridal Chamber is one such example. Lazy strolls around its lovely courtyards and gardens are also a must. The Ducal Palace is located at Piazza Sordello, a mere 10-minute walk from the train station. Remember that the palazzo is closed on Mondays and you need to make a reservation in advance for a viewing of the Bridal Chamber.
Another palace worth checking out in Mantova is Palazzo Te. It is about 20 minutes on foot from the Ducal Palace and once served as a place where the Gonzaga’s entertained and unwound. It is now home to the Civic Museum.
To check out other atmospheric architecture in the city, proceed to Piazza delle Erbe where you will discover the medieval structures of Palazzo del Podesta and the Palazzo della Ragione. Here you will also encounter the impressive Renaissance architecture of Casa del Mercante, which was once home to well-heeled merchants back in the day. The oldest church in the city – Rotonda di San Lorenzo – is also located onsite. Sit al fresco in one of the cafes in the area and can soak up the lovely view and the old-world charm of the piazza.
Finally, those who love theatre will find a special treat in Mantova. Be sure to experience the 18th century Teatro Bibiena and its lavish furnishings. This beautiful theatre hosted a performance of the promising 14 year-old Mozart, which makes the theatre even more appealing to visitors. The early 19th century Teatro Sociale is also worth visiting. There is a popular cafe in the theatre’s foyer where you can simply hang-out and mingle with the locals.