The moraine hills, Lake Garda, rivers and fertile canals, the vast Po Valley: welcome to Mantua.
70 municipalities, 7 rivers, a lot of green on an area of 2,238 square kilometers. This is the province of Mantova. Splinters of industrial worthy between Castiglione and Castelgoffredo do not undermine the typical agricultural vocation.
The routes are many, many the opportunities for having fun, between the historical paths or picnics in the flood plain.
Mantova, Castello di San Giorgio. Photo by Christian Ostrosky via Flickr
Mantova, Castello di San Giorgio. Photo by Christian Ostrosky via Flickr

1. Best things to do in Mantua

"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 There are 190 works, including 12 paintings and 2 unpublished drawings.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.

Sabbioneta, photo by Sergio e Gabriella Trentanni via Flickr
Sabbioneta, photo by Sergio e Gabriella Trentanni via Flickr

2. Mantua and surroundings

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.

Sbrisolona cake, a must of Mantua cuisine, photo by F. Tronchin via Flickr
Sbrisolona cake, a must of Mantua cuisine, photo by F. Tronchin via Flickr

3. Tastes and local foods

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.

Oglio river, starting point for many excursions in Mantua
Oglio river, starting point for many excursions in Mantua

4. Nature, sport and green itineraries

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.

Nature Reserve and Farmhouse Le Bine, Mantova
Nature Reserve and Farmhouse Le Bine, Mantova

5. Where to stay in the city and surrounding

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

Eco-friendly accommodations

B&B Villa Verona Bike

Province of Verona (Veneto)

Starting from 90,00 €

Agriturismo & AgriCamping Le Nosare

Verona (Veneto)

Starting from 90,00 €

Agriturismo Monte Vento

Verona (Veneto)

Starting from 70,00 €

Agriturismo Corte Lidia

Provincia di Mantova (Lombardia)

Starting from 50,00 €

Bio Agriturismo Vojon

Mantova (Lombardia)

Starting from 95,00 €

Volivia Relais Agriturismo

Mantova (Lombardia)

Starting from 90,00 €

Agriturismo Le Sorgive e Le Volpi

Mantova (Lombardia)

Starting from 84,00 €

Corte all'Olmo

Provincia di Verona (Veneto)

Starting from 100,00 €

B&B Corte Ginepro

Mantova (Lombardy)

Starting from 105,00 €

Villa con parco e Piscina

Province of Mantua (Lombardy)

Starting from 120,00 €

BORGHI HOUSE

Province of Mantua (Mantova)

Starting from 100,00 €

B&B Corte Cornalino

Mantova (Lombardia)

Starting from 60,00 €

B&B rocambola

Province of Verona (Veneto)

Starting from 85,00 €

B&B Casa Pascolone

Mantova (Lombardia)

Starting from 50,00 €