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Mantova [Mantua], Province of Mantova, Lombardy

Mantua is an ancient city and capital of the province with the same name. It was the hometown of the Latin poet Publius Virgilius Maro (Virgil: "Mantua me genuit").

The town contains many architectural treasures. It is surrounded on three sides by artificial lakes formed by the water of river Mincio descending from the Lake of Garda: Lago Superiore, di Mezzo and Inferiore. The fourth lake created in the Middle Ages for the defence of the city, Lake Paiolo, was dried at the end of the 18th century. The city was part of William Shakespeare's tragedy Romeo and Juliet.
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Provinces of Lombardy

Info

  • Altitude: 19 m a.s.l
  • Population: about 47,000 inhabitants
  • Zip/postal code: 46100
  • Dialing Area Code: +39 0376
  • Patron Saint: St. Anselmo of Baggio, celebrated on 18th March
  • Frazioni & Localities: Castelletto Borgo, Cittadella, Formigosa, Frassino, Gambarara, Lunetta, Virgiliana.
  • GPS Coordinates: 45°10' - 10°48'E

History - Antiquity and the Middle Ages

The town was founded around 2000 BC on the banks of the Mincio river, a sort of island among its waters, and in the 6th century BC was an Etruscan village. The name derives from Mantus, an Etruscan god of Hades.

The Romans conquered it between the first and second Punic wars. After the fall of the Roman Empire it was invaded by Goths, Byzantines, Longobards and Franks, and then it became a possession of Canossa, whose last ruler was the famous countess Matilde of Canossa (d. 1115). According to the legend, she ordered the construction of the Rotonda di San Lorenzo.

In 1198 Alberto Pitentino optimised the course of the Mincio, creating what Mantuans call "the four lakes". In the Middle Ages, Mantua was ruled by several families which became extremely important in the history and culture of Italy, among them the Bonacolsi and the Corradi di Gonzaga (or, briefly, Gonzaga; 1328-1708).

History - Modern Times

The Gonzaga protected art and culture, and hosted several important artists like Leon Battista Alberti, Andrea Mantegna, Donatello, Luca Fancelli, and Nicolò Sebregondi. Austria conquered Mantua after the fall of the Gonzaga and established the Royal Academy of Sciences, Letters and Arts and the Scientific Theatre, then the town passed under Napoleon's domain, and was later incorporated in a united Italy by the king of Sardinia.

What to see

  • The Palazzo del Te (1525-1535), the most important monument of the town, is a creation of Giulio Romano, meant as the residential villa of Frederick II of Gonzaga, in the style of mature Renaissance. It hosts the Museo Civico (with the donations of Arnoldo Mondadori, the most important Italian publisher, and Ugo Sissa, a Mantuan architect who worked in Iraq from where he brought back important Mesopotamian artworks).
  • The Duomo, the Palazzo Ducale, the Magna Domus, the Palazzo del Capitano, the Palazzo Vescovile, the Palazzo degli Uberti, the Castle of St. George, the Palazzo Castiglioni (or Palazzo Bonacolsi), the Tower of the Gabbia, and the Palazzo del Podestà, all examples of magnificent patrician buildings.

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