Mantua, an ancient town founded 2000 years before Christ on two small islands in the river Mincio, was crowned by Virgil’s poetic glory and the pomp and splendour of the court of the Gonzagas, a great enlightened dynasty that has made Mantua one of Europe’s most important towns since the 15th century.
Popular with literature’s past greats, such as Huxley, Dickens, Baudelaire and Corrado Alvaro, the town is an open-air treasure trove that, together with Sabbioneta, was granted Unesco World Heritage status in July 2008.
The three lakes surrounding the town paint a portrait of peace and abundance, from which Mantua derives its nickname “sleeping beauty”.
Like the princess in the fairytale, the town lies on a green bed in the Po plain, in a privileged geographical position that has made it into a treasure chest of art and culture over the centuries.
As well as an artistic and architectural heritage of international renown, such as Palazzo Ducale, the basilica of Sant’Andrea and Palazzo Te, which contain masterpiece by Giulio Romano, Andrea Mantegna, Pisanello and other masters, the area offers much to discover by way of ancient wisdom and delicious tastes typical of Lombard tradition, from fine wines to the famous crumbly almond cake, sbrisolona.
The province of Mantua encompasses 70 municipalities, most of which are located in flat areas, the only exception being those in the morainic hills to the south of Lake Garda, from which noble DOC wines come.
The area is also renowned for its excellent cuisine, attracting gourmets from all over to the many traditional festivals held throughout the year.