Snapshots of Mantova, Italy: A look into one of Lombardia’s most livable cities – great atmosphere, architecture and food!
1. Palazzo Ducale
The Gonzaga family’s primary residence, the Palazzo Ducale is a massive castle with over 500 rooms, as big as seven football fields. Walking through the enormous, empty halls it can be difficult to imagine it as it once was, filled with people, guests and furniture, but the second-story garden helps. Quite empty for my tastes, it’s worth a visit to see Mantegna’s ‘Camera degli Sposi’, or Room of the Spouses, a small room completely covered in frescoes of the Gonzagas.
2. Centro Storico
The historical city center of the city is Piazza Sordello, a piazza dedicated to the poet Sordello da Goito who was cited by Dante in the Divina Commedia. Located in the piazza is the impressive Palazzo Ducale and the city’s Cathedral.
3. Palazzo Te
An enormous villa, Palazzo Te was built between 1525 and 1535 as a suburban residence for Federico II Gonzaga, of the famous Gonzaga family. Once old stables, the layout of the structure still resembles that, with large squares forming to leave large courtyards left in the middle. Palazzo Te eventually came to be used for official court receptions, housing rulers from abroad. Go to visit the famous Room of the Giants.
4. Mantova’s Lakes
Mantova is surrounded by lakes made by the Mincio River, a tributary of Lombardia’s famous Po River. Crossing the bridge to enter the city, it seems that Mantova rises out of the water like Triton’s crown, towers and roofs peaking through the fog that rolls in from the water, engulfing the city.
The amazing, amazing place where we went to eat lunch, it seems to be a favorite of many. Located near to the main piazza, Osteria ai Ranari specializes in traditional, local dishes. You can read more about our lunch experience here.
Via Trieste, 11 – 46100 Mantova
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6. Cathedral of St. Peter the Apostle
Located in Piazza Sordello, the city’s Duomo was built in the 14th century and is the burial ground for the artists, bishops and Gonzaga’s of Mantova.
7. Teatro Scientifico Bibiena
Built by Bibiena in 1767, the much anticipated theatre, made entirely of wood, was inaugurated December 3, 1769 by 14-year-old Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart with a memorable concert. Afterward, Mozart’s father wrote to his wife: “In all my life I’ve never seen anything, of the sort, more beautiful.”
8. Astronomical Clock Tower
Located on the Palazzo della Ragione, once the home of the Court of Justice, the clock was one of the first mechanical clocks. Better described as an astronomical/astrological clock, it tracks hours, lunar phases, celestial equator, the plants and zodiac signs. The citizens of Mantova used it to guide their lives – it determined when to plant seeds, bottle wine, depart on a trip and more.