The homeland of the ancient Roman poet Virgil, Mantova in Italy is perfect for travelers who are not indifferent to history and culture. The city is the administrative center of the province of the same name in the Italian region of Lombardy and can serve as one of the ideal destinations for one day if you relax in the vicinity of Bologna, Verona, Milan and even Venice.
Mantova is known not only as the birthplace of Virgil. The greatest Renaissance artist Andrea Mantegna worked here, Peter Rubens, no less eminent Flemish painter of the Baroque era, began his career. The hero of the famous Shakespearean tragedy Romeo was exiled to Mantua for the murder of Julietta Tybalt's cousin.
A small town surrounded by the waters of the Mincio River is famous primarily for its ancient monuments. From one attraction of Mantua to another it is within easy reach, but at the same time you need to try very hard to have time to explore them all in one day.
In every building, the city managed to preserve the memory of the past
Once Mantova was like an island city: according to the design of the architect and engineer Alberto Pitentino, in the 12th century, artificial lakes were created around the city that served as natural protection and provided residents with water. By the XVII century, the outskirts of the city gradually turned into swamps, so it was decided to drain one of the lakes. Therefore, today Mantova is a rather unusual peninsula city.
How to get to Mantua
Due to its convenient location almost in the middle between Venice and Milan, it’s quite easy to get to Mantua, no matter which city of Northern Italy you start your trip from.
Mantua Train Station is located on Don Leoni Square, a 10-minute walk from the historic city center. Trains from Verona, Bologna, Milan, Padua, Ferrara follow here. The journey time from Verona, the nearest major city, will be about 40 minutes, you can check the schedule and see the cost of tickets on the Omio.ru website.
The train ride to Verona takes less than 40 minutes.
If you arrive at one of the airports in Northern Italy, it is easiest to get to Mantua by taxi. It is easiest to find out the current prices and travel time from the starting point of the trip through the kiwitaxi service. Moreover, the site has both a Russian version and Russian support.
It’s even easier for car travelers to visit Mantua - the A22 motorway that connects Modena and Verona (Mantova Nord exit from Verona and Mantoca Sud exit from Modena) runs near the city.
Mantova is a small town surrounded by the waters of the Mincio River
In the city, a car can be parked in one of the free parking lots located around the perimeter of the peninsula around the old city. If you have not yet decided on a car rental in Italy, then it is better to start with an international price comparison service - it turns out, as a rule, more profitable.
Hotels and lodging
Despite the fact that Mantova is a relatively small city, there is a wide selection of hotels for every taste and budget. And the prices, in comparison with the same Verona, are much more democratic.
Those who plan to get acquainted with the historical sights of the city are better off with a hotel in the center. Those who travel by car and intend to devote time to getting to know the surrounding cities, take part in a gastronomic tour or spend a day or two shopping in Mantova outlet village, it is worth paying attention to hotels far from the center - it will turn out both more convenient and cheaper.
Below is the form with the current special offers of hotels in Mantua:
Climate and weather
Mantova is located in the subtropical climate zone, therefore, throughout the year there is a large amount of rainfall, a significant part of the rain falls in April and October. Due to high humidity, the city is often shrouded in light haze.
The average air temperature does not fall below 0 ° C even in winter. In summer, the thermometer easily reaches 30 ° C. We can safely say that the weather in Mantua is perfect for summer vacations, but even in winter the city will delight the mild climate of Russian-speaking tourists, accustomed to frost and cold winds.
What to see in Mantua: 9 main attractions
Since 2008, the historical center of Mantua has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The city, which has become a reflection of the ideals of the Italian Renaissance, keeps a memory of the past in virtually every building. So the main question facing travelers who find themselves here is not “what to see in Mantua”, but “how to have time to see everything”.
The famous Palace of the Dukes of Mantua is one of the main attractions of northern Italy. The complex of palace structures includes the castle of St. George (Castello di San Giorgio) and the palace itself (Palazzo Ducale). The owners of the palace were representatives of the Gonzago clan, who ruled the city since 1328.
The palace belonged to representatives of the Gonzago clan, who ruled the city since 1328.
St. George's Castle was built at the end of the 14th century. In one of the four towers of the castle is the famous "Room of the Spouses" (Camera degli Sposi), which is decorated with frescoes by Andrea Mantegna created in the second half of the 15th century.
From the mural of the ceiling through the railing of the round gallery, people are looking at the audience, and clouds are floating above them in a skilfully painted sky - this is how the artist tried to create an illusionary decoration, which can be considered one of the first in Western European art.
The "Room of the Spouses" is decorated with frescoes by Andrea Mantegna (XV century)
In the "Hall of Archers" (Sala degli Arcier) is stored a huge portrait of the Gonzago family, made by another famous artist Rubens in the early XVII century.
The building of the Palazzo Ducale has more than 500 halls, 600 entrances and 15 gardens, the palace also includes numerous squares and courtyards, a basilica and even a theater. In the very heart of the palace, several rooms are occupied by "dwarf apartments", which would be ideal for residents no more than three feet tall.
The Palazzo Ducale has more than 500 halls, 600 entrances and 15 gardens
Leonardo da Vinci, Perugino, Correggio, Titian, Rafael and many other world famous artists and poets visited the palace of the wife of Francesco II Gonzago, the most famous marquise of Mantua Isabella D'Este.
By the way, tickets to the Palazzo Ducale Mantua can be purchased in advance - via the Internet. This can be done on the specialized resource SelectItaly.
The cathedral, located on Piazza Sordello, is interesting for its combination of late Gothic rosette windows on the side wall, preserved from the Renaissance building, and a facade made of white Carrara marble, replacing the Gothic "predecessor" in the middle of the 18th century.
The building, which appeared at the beginning of the XII century, was repeatedly rebuilt in connection with fires or at the direction of the rulers of the city. The body of Saint Anselm Baggio, the patron saint of Mantua, is stored here.
Rigoletto is a character in Verdi's opera of the same name, which takes place in Mantua. However, the building, which is located at the end of Piazza Sordello, hiding a sculpture of a sad jester in the courtyard, should be treated more like a tourist bait.
In the courtyard of the "house of Rigoletto" you can see a sculpture of a sad jester
The fact is that in the original version of the event, Victor Hugo’s play “The King Funs” unfolds at the French court (and initially this story entered the libretto of Verdi’s opera with virtually no change). And only to please the requirements of censorship Verdi was forced to change the libretto of the future opera and transfer the scene to Italy.
This building is currently hosting art exhibitions. In addition, there is a tourist center where you can get a free map of the city and useful information about what to see in Mantua first.
Science Theater Bibiena
Via Accademia is a theater built for Maria Theresa of Austria, designed by Antonio Bibien in the second half of the 18th century. The name of the theater corresponds to the educational spirit of that era: it was intended not only for performances, but also for scientific meetings and disputes. One and a half months after the opening of the theater, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart himself, who at that time was only 14 years old, performed here.
The basilica of Sant Andrea holds sacred vases with the blood of Christ
Basilica of Sant Andrea
The construction of the Basilica of St. Andrew (Basilica di Sant'Andrea) was started in 1472 by the design of Leon Battista Alberti and was finally completed only in 1732. Stored here sacred vases with the blood of Christ - it was brought to her hometown by the Roman centurion Longinus, which, according to legend, pierced the side of the crucified Christ with a spear. The painter Andrea Mantegna is buried here.
The Rotonda di San Lorenzo is notable for its resemblance to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerasulim - such was her idea by Countess Matilda of Tuscany from the Canossa Dynasty, who gave the order for the construction. This is the oldest surviving church in Mantua, it was built in 1082.
The Rotunda, built in 1082, is the oldest surviving church in Mantua
The church was closed at the behest of Guglielmo Gonzaga in 1579 and was subsequently used as a warehouse, retail and residential premises. Services in the church were resumed only in 1926 after restoration (by the beginning of the 20th century, the rotunda had lost its roof and was completely hidden behind the superstructures surrounding it). Inside you can see the frescoes of the Byzantine sample of the XI-XII centuries.
Next to the Rotunda stands the Clock Tower of the Palazzo della Ragione Palace. The palace was built in 1250, the tower was attached to the palace in 1472, and the astrological clock, which shows the moon phases and the position of the sun in the zodiac constellation, appeared on the tower in 1493.
While the main attractions of Mantua are concentrated in almost one place, the Te Palace (Palazzo Te) is located a bit off from the historic city center.
Te Palace (1524) is considered the pinnacle of European mannerism
The 16th-century mansion was conceived as a country villa, where Federico II Gonzaga arranged balls and receptions. A square building with an internal garden framed by a colonnade appeared next to the family stables - horses from all over Europe were delivered from here.
The Te Palace, built in 1524-1525, is considered the pinnacle of European mannerism, and this, of course, is due to the main architect and painter of Mantua, Raphael’s pupil, Giulio Romano.
The Amour and Psyche Hall is one of the pearls of the palace
The interior of the palace strikes no less than the appearance. In the Hall of the Giants (Sala dei Giganti; Camera dei Giganti), one fresco by Julio Romano covers the entire surface of the hall. The Horse Hall (Sala dei Cavalli) is filled with stylized images of the Duke’s favorite horses. The Chamber of Cupid and Psyche (Camera di Amore e Psiche) amazes with very frank murals that fill the entire space of the hall. In the palace you can also find the Metamorphosis House, the Eagles hall, the chambers of the Sun and the Moon, and many other halls and rooms, each of which is dedicated to a certain topic.
Fresco by Giulio Romano in the Hall of Giants
On the way to the Te Palais, you can drop by a visit to the artist Andrea Mantegna. The red brick building, erected by the artist himself on a plot of land received as a gift from the Marquis Ludovigo Gonzaga, is known for its cylindrical courtyard.
In the end
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