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Things to do in Mantua

Things to do in  Mantua

Welcome to Mantua

Mantua’s glory hasn’t faded since the Gonzaga dynasty made this city the seat of its power during the Renaissance. Known as “La Bella Addormentata” (Sleeping Beauty), its intact old town has been protected by a ring of artificial lakes for almost 1,000 years. Today, the centro storico is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and tours of architectural treasures like the Ducal Palace, Palazzo Te, and Teatro Bibiena top the list of things to do, along with cooking classes to make tortelli di zucca (pumpkin ravioli) and other local specialties.

Top 3 attractions in Mantua

Ducale Palace (Palazzo Ducale Mantova)

For centuries, Mantua’s vast Palazzo Ducale was the seat of the Gonzaga dynasty, one of the most powerful during the Renaissance. Explore dozens of the palace’s sumptuous rooms (there are 500 in all), admiring art and lavishly decorated halls such as the whimsically frescoed Camera degli Sposi.More

Te Palace (Palazzo Te)

Pull yourself away from Mantua’s elegant Piazza delle Erbe to visit another Renaissance gem, this one just outside the city center: Palazzo Te. Built in the 16th century as a retreat for Duke Federico II Gonzaga, this lavish palace and garden are testimony to the wealth and power the Gonzaga dynasty wielded for almost four centuries.More

Piazza delle Erbe

Piazza delle Erbe is the beating heart of Mantua’s elegant Renaissance historic center. It is also home to three of the UNESCO World Heritage–listed city’s most famous monuments: the 13th-century civic hall, Palazzo della Ragione; Bartolomeo Manfredi’s 15th-century clock tower; and the 11th-century Rotonda di San Lorenzo, the city’s oldest church.More
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A local’s pocket guide to Mantua

Rebecca Winke

A sucker for a great castle, travel and culture writer Rebecca always hits the brakes for Mantua, where the Renaissance art inside seals the deal.

The first thing you should do in Mantua is...

check to see if there is a performance at the sumptuous 18th-century Teatro Bibiena that once hosted the 13-year-old Mozart scheduled during your visit.

A perfect Saturday in Mantua...

is spent getting lost in the remarkably preserved and delightful compact old town, kept intact by the ring of artificial lakes that have protected it for almost 1,000 years.

One touristy thing that lives up to the hype is...

the Doge's Palace (Palazzo Ducale), a treasure trove of Renaissance art and architecture. If its sheer size seems overwhelming, head straight to the Bridal Chamber (Camera degli Sposi), the headliner.

To discover the "real" Mantua...

spend some time taking in the street life from an outdoor café table in Piazza Sordello, where the tony residents of Mantua go to see and be seen.

For the best view of the city...

cross the bridge to the Rocca di Sparafucile fortress set on the opposite side of the lake to watch the sun set behind Mantua’s old town.

One thing people get wrong...

is assuming that Mantua isn’t worth a stop. This bite-sized town is an ideal way to break up the trip between Milan and Venice and a worthwhile day trip from Verona, Lake Garda, Bologna, or Modena.

People Also Ask

What is Mantua famous for?

Mantua is famous for being one of the birthplaces of opera and for its Renaissance-era architectural treasures. The best-known example of Mantuan architecture is the Ducal Palace (in reality, more of a village than a palace), which consists of numerous palatial apartments linked by gardens and courtyards.

Is Mantua worth visiting?

An unsung jewel in Lombardy’s crown, Mantua is well worth a visit. Because it’s not on many international tourists’ radars, the city isn’t full of packed streets and souvenir shops; it’s a great place to get a more authentic look at Italian city life. The food and architecture also stand out.

Are Mantua and Mantova the same?

Both names apply to this city. Mantova is what the city is called in Italian while Mantua is what the city is called in Latin, in the local dialect, and in foreign languages, such as English. Both versions of the name are commonly used by both tourists and locals.

How far is Verona from Mantua?

It’s roughly 21 miles (33 kilometers) from Verona to Mantua, as the crow flies. Driving from one to the other takes about 45 minutes (accounting for traffic around the city centers). High-speed trains take about 45 minutes, and regional trains take around 2 hours.

When was Mantua built?

While many say Mantua was founded in Etruscan times, the old city as you see it today was mostly built during the Renaissance. Some of the older Ducal Palace buildings are thought to predate this period; they were likely built in the 13th and 14th centuries.

What is the origin of Mantua?

The original island settlement, on the banks of the Mincio River, is thought to have been founded around 2000 BC. Many historians, however, argue that the city really began during the Etruscan period; Etruscan settlements in the area date back as far as 750 BC.


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