Mantua is a beautiful Renaissance city south of Lake Garda in Northern Italy’s Lombardy region. Lakes on three sides keep the city center compact and make it a pleasant place for walking or biking. Mantova was the Italian Capital of Culture for 2016.
- Piazza delle Erbe, Piazza Brolleto, and Piazza Sordello are three pretty squares in a line that form the heart of Mantua’s historic center.
- Palazzo Ducale, with more than 500 rooms was home to the wealthy Gonzaga family from 1328 through 1707.
- Also on Piazza Sordello is Mantua’s Cathedral, il duomo di San Pietro. Built on the site of an early Christian church, the current cathedral dates from the late 14th century. The exterior has Gothic and Baroque elements added later and several 16th – 17th century art works are inside. Its bell tower has 7 bells.
- On Piazza delle Erbe are the clock tower and the 11th century Rotonda of San Lorenzo,
- Next to Piazza delle Erbe is the small Piazza Andrea Mantegna where you’ll find the Basilica of Sant’Andrea that houses the tomb of Andrea Mantegna, a 15th century painter who spent many years in Mantua employed as a court artist. His most famous work is probably the Camera degli Sposi, or Wedding Chamber, frescoes in the Palazzo Ducale. A co-cathedral, the Basilica houses Sacred Vessels said to contain Christ’s blood. The relic is kept in the crypt and brought up in a vial on Ascension Day.
- Outside the historic center is another Gonzaga palace, Palazzo Te, set in a big park. Built as a pleasure palace in 1524, it also has stunning frescoes, including a room of erotic frescoes, and a beautiful courtyard. Part of the palace is an art museum.
originally appeared on MarthasItaly.com by Martha Bakerjian