It stands on the bank of the river Mincio, where its waters form a deep bend, which embraces the city and creates Superior Lake, the Lago di Mezzo and Lake Inferiore. Rich in art and culture – Italian Capital of Culture for the year 2016– Mantua is one of the most beautiful cities in the Lombardy region
I arrive in Mantua from Via Legnago, crossing the bridge-dam that divides Lake di Mezzo from the Inferiore Lake. I recommend the same entrance, you have a glance to say the least fantastic!
If you find it difficult to park in the city center you can leave the car in the square near the stadium (former square Montelungo) and take the free shuttle bus to reach the city center, however, only on Thursday (from 7.00 to 13.00), Saturday and Sunday (from 9.00 to 21.00). Racing every 10 minutes.
For other information click here.
Piazza Sordello, was dedicated to the poet Sordello da Goito. The first name of the square was Piazza di San Pietro. Built in 1330 this square dates back to the late Middle Ages and was for centuries the center of religious and social life in Mantua, on it overlook the major city buildings, including the Duomo, Palazzo Bianchi, the Palazzo Ducale, the Torre della Gabbia (tower of the Cage) and Palazzo Castiglioni.
The Cathedral, of early Christian origin, was rebuilt in the Middle Ages (probably commissioned by Matilde di Canossa) at first in Romanesque style. It was then expanded at the beginning of the fifteenth century with Francesco Gonzaga. The inside was restored in 1545 by the artist Giulio Romano.
As evidence of its long historical past, an overlap of styles make up this magnificent building: the Romanesque bell tower, the late-Baroque facade and the right side of the Duomo in red terracotta gothic style, due to the interventions carried out between 1395 and 1401
Afterwards, in anti-schedule order: the Palazzo Vescovile ex Palazzo Bianchi.
It originally belonged to the Mantuan family of the Agnellis, who in 1288 sold it to Rinaldo Bonacolsi.
In the mid-eighteenth century Count Guido Portai had the present building built instead of the two pre-existing buildings and then sold it in 1756 to the Marquis Giuseppe Bianchi who, in turn, finished the works adding a soothing staircase and frescoing the vaulted ceilings of the first floor by Giuseppe Bazzani.
The building passed into the hands of the diocese in 1823, and today houses the bishop’s residence.
The palace Castiglione, entirely in terracotta surmounted by Ghibelline merlons, was built at the end of the 13th century by Pinamonte dei Bonacolsi on land purchased by Rolandino de Pacis, who made it the home of his powerful family.
Pinamonte acquired and added to the palace other contiguous buildings in the civitas vetus, among which the Torre della Gabbia, symbol of the power of the Bonacolsi.
The palace was left by his father in inheritance to his second son Bardellone, his successor in the city government.
The Bonacolsi family ruled Mantua during the thirteenth century until, on 16 August 1328, the last Bonacolsi, Rinaldo, was overthrown during a revolt supported by Luigi Gonzaga, who took power.
Today the palace houses a Luxury Suites Hotel
The 55-meter-high Torre della Gabbia, dating back to the XIII century, acquired its name when, in 1576, Duke Guglielmo Gonzaga built the large iron cage as an “outdoor prison”. Until then it was known as the Acerbi tower.
In the suspended cage, the condemned men who sometimes stayed there for a long time were exposed to the public square; sometimes the sentence was temporary and the convict received food and drink, while in case of death sentence he was left to die of hunger and thirst.
Behind me the Palazzo del Capitano, also known as the Reggia dei Gonzaga or even Palazzo del Capitano– part of the ducal palace complex – was built between the end of the thirteenth and the beginning of the fourteenth century and was the residence of the Benacolsi, lords of the city.
On the opposite side of Duomo, I go out from Piazza Sordello passing under the arch, along Via Broletto until I reach the Palazzo del Podestà.
Its construction began in 1227 and still today represents the symbol of the glorious historical city of Mantua. Still closed to the public and subjected to an important restoration started after the seismic events of 2012
The Palazzo della Ragione dates back to the middle of the 13th century and was built on the remains of a previous building that the Canossa family used as a hospice for pilgrims visiting Mantua and the relics of the Precious Blood of Christ. Later it was used as a town hall and after to market.
In the period of the Gonzagas, the building was joined to the Palazzo del Podestà and used in the 15th century to the Palazzo di Giustizia and the notary archives. From the same period are the external portico towards Piazza Erbe and the Torre dell’Orologio.
In Piazza Erbe, attached to the Clock Tower ther’s the Rotonda di San Lorenzo, a remarkable example of Romanesque art built in 1083, recovering a previous Roman building of the fourth century, probably a temple or a tholos tomb.
The Rotonda Di San Lorenzo church preserves fragments of frescoes from the 11th-12th centuries that represent a rare example of Romanesque-Lombard painting, of an evident Byzantine school.
Continuing my walk through the historic center, I arrive in Piazza Andrea Mantegna. Here is the largest church in Mantua: the concathedral basilica of Sant’Andrea. The result of a restoration of a church from 1055, a project by the architect Leon Battista Alberti, was completed many years after his death. The result does not respect the original project, on the other hand it took almost three hundred years…
Classified as a Minor Basilica, it preserves in the crypt two reliquaries with earth soaked in Christ’s blood, brought by the Roman soldier Longino in the year 804.
Among the wonders to admire inside, there is the pipe organ, built in 1850 by the Fabbrica Nazionale Privilegiata d’Organi Fratelli Serassi of Bergamo
Lunch break at the Osteria Sordello.
Between legend and reality I find myself in front of the House of Rigoletto.
… oh, I can’t resist humming (out of tune) my favorite air: “caro nome” !
The house of Rigoletto is a small house, dating back to the XV century, at number 23 of Piazza Sordello. The building is known to all as the Casa del Rigoletto – the court jester of the homonym Verdi‘s opera – was for centuries inhabited by the canons of the Duomo. Currently it houses the headquarters of the tourist information office in Mantua.
Palazzo Te was at the top of my list of things to visit in Mantua.
I am surprised by the poor indications along the way, useful to drive the strangers like me. Even now, when I got there, I struggle to find the entrance … after all, the Palazzo Te is an important monumental building.
Palazzo Te was built between 1525 and 1534 on commission of Federico II Gonzaga in honor of the lover Isabella Boschetti and was a grandiose suburban villa for entertainment, parties and receptions by Corte Gonzaga.
It is the most famous work of the Italian architect Giulio Romano.
I must be absolutely sincere: I think this place deserves an embellishment of the surrounding area.
I am ecstatic with the beauty around me. I feel uncomfortable taking pictures but I asked
permission to do it.
The main seat of the Gonzaga family in Mantua was the Palazzo Ducale. Palazzo Te, on the other hand, was wanted by the Duke Federico II Gonzaga also as a training place for his horses. His love for these wonderful animals is beautiful in this room dedicated to them.
As we read on the plate, this model shows us the original building by reintegrating the missing parts and erasing the superimposed parts in successive epochs
If you have questions and suggestions, write me in the comments
Ciao from your Crackita!