Europe 2009

Mantua, 1-3 August

We went to Mantua not knowing much about the city except that it has two palaces that would be interesting to visit. We found a charming city which clearly existed mainly to serve the needs of the people of the district. After Venice, it was something of a relief to be somewhere that did not have tourism as its main purpose.

  The main piazza in Mantua, during the early evening passagiata. †

 

Just off the piazza was this delightful rotonda of San Lorenzo church. *

 

Also nearby is the much larger church of San Andrea. Here's a detail of its brickwork. †

  The cathedral has a very impressive facade, but not much behind it. †

 

This Virgin and Child is in one of the side chapels. *

  The Ducal Palace is huge. Local tourist information claims it is the third largest palace in Europe (behind the Vatican and the Louvre), and one can well believe it. Photography is not allowed inside, but this is part of one of the internal courtyards. *
  This is Palazzo Te, a much smaller palace built by one of the Dukes as a recreation place for himself and his mistress. *
  The guidebooks suggest that Palazzo Te is full of suggestive paintings, intended to get the Duke and his lady going. In fact, the only one that is even mildly shocking is this one. And as the two gods concerned were married, it's really nobody's business but theirs.
  Lynn was delighted to find this butcher selling horse meat, as many of her friends refused to believe that anyone would eat horses. The restaurant next door had both horse and donkey on its menu. *
  A decoration in one of the city's parks. †
  This is part of the impressive wall around Mantua. *
  From Mantua, we visited Sabionetta. This is a planned town, built by Vespasiano Gonzaga Colunna, a member of a minor branch of the Mantua ruling family, with his palace at the centre. He died in 1591, and the town has not changed much since then. Running away from the palace is this brick-built gallery that does not really lead anywhere. *
  The first floor of the gallery is enclosed and decorated with frescoes. It is where the Duke displayed his art treasures. The door at the far end is kept locked, as it opens onto a drop of some 3 metres to ground level. *
  Some of the frescoes have a nice sense of humour. *

 

The Duke also had a theatre built, to show that he was not falling behind Vicenza. The theatre is small, but perfectly formed. *

 

As at most theatres of its time, the stage had a permanent set representing a city. *

Continue on to Vicenza.

 

Copyright © 2009 by *Lynn Booth or †Nick Booth. Please contact us if you wish to use a photo.