Mantua, Italy is a charming city in Lombardy. Arriving in Mantua, you will be faced with a scenic and panoramic view of the historical skyline of the city (see my photo above). This historic part of the city sits on a portion of land that juts out into three lakes, Lago di Mezzo, Lago Superiore, and Lago Inferiore. These lakes are actually man-made and were made in the 12th century.
What to see in Mantua, Italy
My trip to Mantua was a two night stay but one day of sightseeing – which is actually enough time. The main attraction is the Palazzo Ducale which is massive and literally takes a whole afternoon to see. You will follow a designated route through the palace and be astounded at how far you will walk (keep an eye on the windows and you will get a sense of how far you are walking based on the view). To give you an idea of the enormity of the complex, it occupies thirty-four thousand square meters (so almost the size of an American football field, since that is a good reference for some people although I can’t picture it)!
For a really neat overall view of the palace click here for the UNESCO World Heritage site and info on Mantua along with a few more photos of the main sights. There is a route to follow and guards who will smile and point you in the right direction in case you look lost. Sadly there are no photos allowed in the place so hopefully my enthusiasm for it encourages you to visit it!
The Palazzo Ducale in Mantua is impressive in size and grandeur as it consists of a number of buildings and courtyards, built between the 14th and 17th centuries. The Gonzaga family lived in the Palazzo Ducale for over 300 years. You will walk through grand rooms with frescos and artwork to view. The Hall of Pisanello has incredible frescos that are so detailed! The Apartment of the Tapestries is beautiful as well.
The real treasure of the Palazzo Ducale in Mantua is the Camera degli Sposi (Bridal Chamber) which has the famous frescos by Mantegna. The frescos date from 1465 to 1475 and look like they were just finished. The scenes portray members of the Gonzaga family and show the illusion of space with Mantegna’s incredible gift at perspective, especially in the ceiling fresco, so make sure to look up!
Other then the palace, Mantua has pleasant streets and squares. There are notable churches to visit like the Duomo (Mantua Cathedral) on the main square (by the palace). The current Mantua Cathedral was built in the 16th century, however the side with red bricks is from the 15th century church that was mostly destroyed in a fire.
Another church that is most interesting is the Basilica di Sant’Andrea de Mantova. The Basicilia’s façade is rather simple and if anything a bit modest, but once you step into the Basilica it is grand and elegant and towering over you with space that you didn’t think it had from the outside. The Basilica actually has a pilgrimage drawing as it is said to have the Blood of Christ (the shrine is only on display on Holy Friday or during processions). The Basilica also has Mantegna’s tomb.
I was in Mantua for a whole day and really, these were the main sights. I still had time to wander around and see other plazas and parks. It’s a nice city and a must see for art history enthusiasts (the importance of Mantegna’s work alone is the drawing factor!).
I hope you enjoyed the post and that it encourages you to either travel to Mantua or just learn more about it. To see my photographs of Mantua visit The Monica Store site or Monica Goslin Photography for stock images.
Key Travel tips for Mantua, Italy:
1- Bring bug spray if you are traveling in the summer or spring. I was in Mantua in the summer, having pizza (one of the best pizza’s I have ever had) in the Piazza Erbe and I noticed other diners kept spraying themselves with bug spray. After dinner I found that their tactic was useful as I was the one that walked away with dozens of mosquito bites.
2 – Summer is hot and rather unpleasant in terms of temperatures, and again, the bugs, so perhaps save your trip for cooler weather!
Photo tip for Mantua, Italy: Make sure you walk across the river to be across from the Palazzo Ducale in order to get the panoramic view of the city that is dramatic. See photo above to see the view you would get! 🙂
* For more photographs of Mantua, Italy visit The Monica Store. And for stock photography images of Mantua, Italy visit Monica Goslin Photography (where you can also purchase prints).
How to get to Mantua, Italy:
1 – You can reach Mantua easily by car. If you are driving from Milan you will find plenty of highway signs for Mantua. Just stay alert and drive carefully!
2 – Getting to Mantua by train: Mantua has a train station not far from the main sights. From Milan, the train ride to Mantua is just under two hours (if direct). For the latest fares and schedules, check raileurope.com