While cruising through Italian waters, you’ll have the good fortune of visiting many different traditional towns. This article explains the best things to see and do when you discover Mantua, Italy: a popular stop on our La Bella Vita itinerary…
The Best Things to See in Mantua, Italy
Piazza delle Erbe
A popular commercial square of the bygone era is Piazza delle Erbe; it used to house a fruit and vegetable market. Even in the present day, there are several shops under the arcades and plenty of restaurants and bars with their tables set outdoors along the cobbled streets. Stretching from the Rotonda di San Lorenzo to the Palazzo del Broletto, the square even boasts of an astronomical clock tower and the Palazzo della Ragione. While it’s a bustling shopping centre and leisure arena during the day, it’s also a stunning sight during the evening, with its awe-inspiring historical architecture accentuated by the glimmering lights.
This iconic royal residence was home to the ruling Gonzaga family from 1328 to 1707, until Archduke Ferdinand Karl was exiled. Even today, the impeccable structure aptly represents its regal past. Comparable to the Palace of Versailles, it’s an amalgamation of several buildings erected between Sordello Square and the Lower Lake. Besides visiting the stunning gardens, courtyards and rooms, you can also admire the beautiful frescoes of Pisanello. While the plush interiors have waned since the decline of the Gonzaga rule, the buildings are still in good shape overall and make for an interesting visit when you discover Mantua’s history.
A sight to discover, Mantua, Italy was declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2008. However, few people know about its equally important neighbour Sabbioneta, which was added as an example of a Renaissance city. Being a popular port of call during most river cruises in Italy in the present day, it’s no wonder that Mantua has a strongly fortified neighbour since it was also an important access point in the bygone era.
Built on the orders of Vespasiano Gonzaga, it was completely constructed within 30 years. It’s an excellent example of a well-fortified town built from virtually nothing. What’s also impressive is the effective combination of military functions, residential areas and town and rural courts.
Sabbioneta’s contribution to artistic endeavours is also noteworthy. The Teatro all’antica was the first built in Europe, while the impressive Gallery of the Ancients is comparable to the Uffizi in Florence.
When you discover Mantua, Italy, you’ll quickly see it has several hidden gems waiting to be discovered. Our cruise aboard La Bella Vita is ideal for those who want to comfortably visit many such ports in a single trip, without the hassle of struggling through road transport. With all of the gorgeous heritage sites to discover, your trip will be full of memories you’ll cherish for many years to come.