Surrounded by the Mincio river and man-made lakes, the city of Mantua retains much of its Renaissance charm. Join your local expert guide to experience the art and architecture of Italy’s 2016 Capital of Culture.
Florence had its Medicis and Milan its Sforzas, while the powerful Gonzaga ruled the city of Mantua for more than 300 years. Thanks to fortuitous marriages, wily diplomacy and a keen eye for art and architecture, the Gonzaga consolidated power and transformed Mantua into a real Renaissance gem. As you wander through the narrow streets and through the colonnades, your guide will provide cultural insight and historical details as you explore Italy’s 2016 Capital of Culture. The Palazzo Ducale, with arched colonnades, interior courtyards and crenelated roof, was the Gonzaga’s royal residence until 1707 and contains myriad masterpieces from the likes of Mantegna and Rubens. The city’s oldest church, the Rotunda di San Lorenzo, is a prime example of a dense, round Romanesque church; the light, airy Baroque cathedral is dedicated to St. Peter and the Basilica di Sant’Andrea boasts an Alberti-designed façade inspired by the triumphal arches of Rome. After it, have your guide recommend a traditional trattoria for some delicacies alla mantovana, like risotta alla pilota made with a thick beef ragù or pumpkin-stuffed pasta packs known as tortelli di zucca. Saving the best for last, venture across town to Palazzo Te set in a lush park, where Frederico II Gonzaga frolicked with his mistress Isabella. The floor-to-ceiling frescoes are pure flights of fancy executed masterfully by Raphael’s most gifted student, Giulio Romano.