"A city with the shape of a Palace" it is the description written by Baldassarre Castiglioni. A small town rich in treasures to be discovered, well designed and well built. The works that encloses are invaluable: Mantegna, Leon Battista Alberti... Mantova is also the pearl of the lordship Gonzaga (1328-1707).
You cannot forget the Palazzo del Podestà, Palazzo della Ragione and the churches of San Lorenzo and the Gradaro. The real symbol of the Gonzaga lordship is Palazzo Ducale, a true palace, with courts and courtyards.
We are in the land of Ligabue, original and tormented painter, right here it was opened the Museum of Madness, in Palazzo della Ragione, open until 22 November 2015. There are 190 works, including 12 paintings and 2 unpublished drawings. Pietro Ghizzardi is present with 37 works never exhibited and published before.
In the middle of the city take a look also to the great project of Leon Battista Alberti, the Basilica of S. Andrea, built in 1472. Within this majestic monument houses you can find the relic of the Blood of Jesus brought to Mantua by the Roman centurion Longinus.
The most common cities for their historical and old buildings are Sabbioneta and Solferino: do not forget, however, Asola, outpost of the Venetian Republic which retains a magnificent cathedral of late Gothic style. There you will find paintings by Romanino and Moretto.
Asola has one of the most important Italian stables, home of overseas western champions in disciplines such as reining and cutting. Some pictures and a few caresses the magnificent specimens of quarter horses are a must.
In Acquanegra you will find a church full of medieval frescoes with traces of a wonderful mosaic.
For a truly green experience let’s try wild life oasis Le Bine, in a wet area with huge patches of trees and many species of resident and migratory birds in the Natural Park of Oglio South.
The city of Gonzaga is a small jewel: truly amazing the well known pumpkin ravioli, but the real gems are to be discovered, thanks to a new gastronomy that is the result of the encounter between tradition and popular fusion aspirations.
We are in the only Italian province which produces both the Grana Padano and Parmigiano Reggiano. Try them both accompanied by apple chutney, the result of an ancient cook recipe by Gonzaga Bartolomeo Stefani, typical of Mantua and that you can enjoy only here. And do not forget to buy a stock in one of the outlets on the provincial roads.
Pork is the undisputed star of Mantua: you cannot forget to taste the salami, enhanced with garlic. If you love salami and you are in Sabbioneta, the restaurant Corte Bondeno, with an amazing salami selection, will leave you speechless.
It goes without saying that in Mantua you cannot leave out a plate of pumpkin ravioli hand made. Enjoy the food in any day of the year in every restaurant or tavern in the city. The balance in the combination of sweet pumpkin and amaretti with butter sauce is the secret to a perfect tortello. If we talk about sweets we talk about Sbrisolona: corn flour, almonds, butter. A poor sweet with an unforgettable taste.
The easiest way to fully enjoy the beauty of Mantua is a simple mountain bike. You can ride along the banks of the great river in Borgofranco sul Po, and enjoy the show of green “pianura padana”. Lose yourself among the bends of the river Oglio, along the beautiful nature reserve.
The most wild ones can take the path that connects Mantua to Peschiera, and why not, ride down to the shores of Lake Garda.
Discover all ecofriendly accommodations in the province of Mantova, the land of Gonzaga. You can choose an organic farm where the smell of traditional foods is mixed with the medieval scents, a nice bio hotel or an ecofriendly b&b in the old town.
Discover all eco-friendly accommodations in Mantova
Author: Angela Sebastianelli
Cover photo: View of Mantova from the bridge, photo by mykaul via Flickr