Mantova, Discovering Mantua
The sight-seeing tour of Mantua starts from the Palatine Basilica of Santa Barbara, owned by the Gonzaga family it was designed by Giovan Battista Bertani and built between 1562 and 1565. Close to it is Palazzo Bonacolsi, now Palazzo Castiglioni, an elegant building in terracotta which shows Ghibelline crenellations. Within walking distance stands the Ducal Palace (Palazzo Ducale), a renowned architectural complex where you will see the Newlywed’s Chamber (Camera degli Sposi), the pictorial masterpiece by Mantegna. Included in this complex is also the Castle of St. George (Castello di San Giorgio), which was ordered to be built at the end of the 14th century by Francesco I Gonzaga who needed a buffer against the attackers. The Cathedral (Duomo) dedicated to St Peter (11th century), whose current look shows that it underwent many renovation works, is on the northern side of Piazza Sordello. Heading southwards you will see the 13th-century Palazzo del Podestà by Loderengo Martinengo. In the opposite direction is Piazza Virgiliana, a large garden overlooking the middle lake called ‘Lago di Mezzo’. Not far from here is
Palazzo d’Arco, a Neoclassical building from 1784. Beside, stands the St. Francis Church (Chiesa di San Francesco), dating back to the 14th – century, which was rebuilt after the Second World War. By covering a short distance you will get to Palazzo Canossa, which stands on the square Canossa and shows a rich ashlar façade covered with stucco tiles. Going down southwards you will reach Sant’Andrea, the biggest church of Mantua. Of Medieval origins, it underwent a restoration work according to the project of Leon Battista Alberti of 1470 which gave it Renaissance shapes. At this point of the tour you will go back to Piazza delle Erbe, where you will see the Rotonda di San Lorenzo, the oldest building of Mantua which dates back to the 12th century. There stands the Clock Tower (Torre dell’Orologio), whose mechanism by Bartolomeo Manfredi, which was added in 1493, is still working. Once you have left Piazza Broletto, go westwords and you will reach the artist’s house ‘Casa di Giulio Romano’ which is located in via Poma. The House of Mantegna (Casa del Mantegna) is not far away so, go westwards up to via Acerbi. Going in the same direction you will come across St. Sebastian Church (San Sebastiano), designed by Leon Battista Alberti and concluded by Luca Fancelli. Few steps forward is Palazzo Te, a masterpiece by Giulio Romano, built between 1525 and1535. Its beautiful interiors, among which the Sala dei Giganti deserves a special mention, are covered with frescoes. The last stop of this tour is Santa Maria del Gradaro, a Romanesque-Gothic church of the 13th century.