The Fabulous Palazzo Ducale in Mantua (Mantova)
Mantova ItalyMantua is a pleasant 50 minute drive from the south end of Lake Garda, just 44km south of Verona. The ancient city is surrounded on three sides by artificial lakes which were created in the 12th century and are fed by the waters of the Mincio Rivers which flow from Lake Garda itself. Dating back to 2000BC, this island-city has an interesting and turbulent history.
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This city seems locked in its past and has a rich heritage from the era when it flourished under the patronage of the wealthy Gonzaga family. They lived in the magnificent Palazzo Ducale which has 500 rooms and 15 courtyards and was built between the 13th and 18th centuries. The Palazzo Ducale is full of magnificent Renaissance masterpieces and frescoes. The highlight is Andrea Mantegnas masterpiece entitled Camera delfi Sposi, or Bridal Chamber. An afternoon spent gazing in awe at the huge gilded halls and galleries is likely to leave you in a silent stupor at the sheer opulence and wealth experienced at this incredible palace. The gardens include the Magna Domus and the Castle of St George.
A visit to this awesome and vast stately home is a hard act to follow, but a visit to the Trattoria Il Cigno would be a fitting place to dine. Beneath the wonderful frescoed ceiling, recipes from the actual cookbooks of the Gonzagas court chef are offered and still enthrall diners centuries later.
Other places worthy of attention whilst visiting Mantua include the Palazzo Te which was built by the first Duke of Mantua, Federico II Gonzaga. It now houses the Museo Civico del Palazzo which has an exceptional collection of Mesopotamian Art. The palazzo was looted in 1630 and is now an empty shell with frescoes of nymphs, gods and giants still painted on the walls, the only witness to the palazzos former glory.
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