Mantua is a city on a human scale, easily accessible either on foot or by bicycle.
The old town is rich in places of interest: entering the city through the Bridge of San Giorgio and admiring the skyline with the Castle of San Giorgio, you will arrive in Piazza (square) Sordello, the heart of the city, and you will be deeply fascinated by the majestic Palazzo Ducale, the Gonzaga’ s Royal Palace, Palazzo Bonacolsi-Castiglioni, Palazzo Vescovile (the Episcopal Palace) and the Cathedral.
The square is the point of departure for a fascinating walk: passing through Piazza Broletto and Piazza delle Erbe, bounded by shop-houses with arcades, Palazzo del Podestà and Palazzo della Ragione with the Clock Tower, the romanic Rotonda of San Lorenzo, you will reach Piazza Mantegna dominated by the impressive Sant’Andrea Basilica, designed by Leon Battista Alberti. The route continues towards Palazzo Te, one of the most grandiose Renaissance villas in Italy, meeting along the way the House of Andrea Mantegna, the San Sebastiano Temple and the City Museum.
Don’t forget to visit Palazzo d’Arco and the Academy Theatre by Bibiena, buildings that enriched Mantua under the rule of Empress Maria Theresa, and Piazza Virgiliana dominated by the statue of the roman poet Virgilio.
Mantua is not only its historic centre. The lakes that surround it, the waterways that cross the province, its different faces, hilly and rural, its cycling paths, make it a very interesting territory, from an artistic, cultural and landscaping point of view.
In Grazie di Curtatone, the Santuario della Beata Vergine delle Grazie, is a pilgrim’s destination. Every year, on 15th August, the “Madonnari” use their chalks to make the square of the Sanctuary colourful, during an exhibition famous all over the world.
The land crossed by the rivers Mincio and Oglio, decreasing from the Lake Garda to the town of Mantua, is rich in very amazing villages: Solferino, Cavriana, Volta Mantovana, Castellaro Lagusello, “Orange flag” by Touring Club Italiano, Goito, Castiglione delle Stiviere, Medole and Castel Goffredo. The landscape is spread of ancient forts and castles rising from the luxuriant morenic hills.
In the centre of the Po plain, between the left side of the Po and the low course of the Oglio, Sabbioneta is with Mantova UNESCO World Heritage since 2008. The city walls, an uneven star in shape, the chessboard layout of the streets, the role of public spaces, make it one of the best examples of ideal town built in Europe.
In Viadana, known chiefly for its high quality melons, pumpkins and its good wine, the local Lambrusco, is located the MuVi, that, in a 4,000 mq. surface, hosts the Public Library, the Civic and Archeological Museum, the Town Museum, the contemporary Art Gallery, and the historic Town Archive.
The countryside to the south of the Po, the Oltrepò Mantovano, is dotted with beautiful courtyards, rural dwellings, pumping stations, and romanic churches inheritance of Matilde of Tuscany. Between the land and the big river stands out San Benedetto Po, one of the “Borghi più belli d’Italia” (Italian best amazing villages) with the magnificent Monastery of Polirone, built in 1007 by Matilde of Tuscany’s grandfather.
Worthy of note are Pieve di Coriano and its little church built in 1085, Revere with the Palazzo Ducale (Ducal Palace) designed by Luca Fancelli, and Borgofranco sul Po, home of the famous white truffle.