Fédération Européenne des Cités Napoléonienne

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Photo: Roberto MerloThose who arrive in Mantua are captivated by its unique, timeless allure and welcoming atmosphere. A city which enjoys a breathtaking panorama when viewed from the shores of its lakes. It appears as though it is suspended above the water, a protagonist of an almost unreal landscape, composed of a balance of history, art and nature. Mantua is a city to be visited with ample time, consideration and serenity. The city squares, passageways and cobblestone streets invite the visitor to slowly take in every one of its monuments and historic buildings in order to understand just why it has been declared by UNESCO a World Heritage Site

along with the neighbouring town of Sabbioneta.

Mantua weaves history, art and culture together everywhere and it is surrounded by an unparalleled natural atmosphere. Unique and magical places that make Mantua simply wonderful.

(Photo: Roberto Merlo)


Photo: Roberto Merlo Photo: Roberto Merlo Photo: Roberto Merlo Photo: Roberto Merlo

Mantua, birthplace of the poet Virgil, has more than two thousand years of history. Of Etruscan origin, Mantua enjoyed an important development in the Middle Ages, but it was the Gonzaga family, starting from the fourteenth century, that gave a strong cultural and artistic impetus to the city, outlining the current urban structure and architecture. During the four centuries of their rule, they hosted at court some of the most illustrious artists of the time such as Leon Battista Alberti, Pisanello, Mantegna, Giulio Romano, Rubens and others, whose works still characterize the city in all its splendour. Evidence of this are some of the most emblematic examples of architecture and art of the Renaissance: the Museum Complex of Palazzo Ducale with the Castle of San Giorgio which holds Andrea Mantegna’s Camera degli Sposi; the suburban villa of Palazzo Te, an absolute masterpiece by Giulio Romano, with the extraordinary Room of the Falling Giants and the Hall of Cupid and Psyche, and among the churches, the Basilica of Sant’Andrea, designed by Leon Battista Alberti and the Palatine Basilica of Santa Barbara.

Photo: Roberto Merlo

After the fall of the Gonzaga family, the city enjoyed a great cultural development during the eighteenth century, as evidenced by the Scientific Theatre by Bibiena, the Municipal “Teresiana” Library and Palazzo d'Arco. In Mantua history and ancient art interact constantly with modern and creative languages and this allows the visitor to be the protagonist of a unique cultural experience.


Immersed in the River Mincio Nature Reserve, the city enchants for the three lakes that surround it and offers walking or cycling trails and boat excursions to discover the typical flora and fauna of this unique natural environment.

In the summer is possible to witness the extraordinary flowering of the lotus flower which create unparalleled contrasts of light and color on the upper lake. A bike path runs around the city and allows pleasant excursions all along the lakes. Other bike paths depart from Mantua in the direction of the town of Grazie, of Peschiera del Garda and Sabbioneta.


Mantuan cuisine is deeply affected by the contamination between the Gonzaga princely tradition and popular dishes. Refined in its recipes, yet simple at the same time while making use of the local natural resources, Mantuan cuisine offers many typical dishes like pumpkin ravioli, risotto alla pilota, capon alla Stefani, pike in green sauce, donkey stew and, among the cakes, Sbrisolona and Helvetia. All dishes must be accordingly accompanied by the red and white wines of the area, as the wines of the Garda moraine hills and the Lambrusco. Food and wine definitely worth a trip to Mantua.


Living in Mantua means to know its inhabitants, attend the meeting places, visit museums and monuments, walk along the lakes, go to the theatre, attend concerts and events in the town squares and public buildings, go shopping, relax on the lakes’ shores, taste the local dishes in the many restaurants, trattorias and taverns, stroll under the arcades, admire the city skyline from the bridge of San Giorgio, take a bicycle tour, or a boat excursionn in the Mincio Natural Park.

Living Mantua means immersing in the unchanged charm of a city that knows how to surprise and excite the visitors.


For almost twenty years the Festivaletteratura is held in September; it is one of the most important cultural events for those who love reading. There are many other events that take place in the city: the Mantua Jazz Festival, the children theatre festival Segni d’Infanzia, events dedicated to Mantua Sister Cities and Mantova Chamber Music Festival. And yet art exhibitions, historical re-enactments, lectures, performances, street events, sports events, urban trekking are just some of the reasons to visit the city all year round.

Mantua and Sabbioneta: World Heritage Site

July of 2008 is the month when Mantua and neighbouring Sabbioneta where introduced to the list of World

Heritage Sites as a unique point of importance. Both cities enjoyed moments of great design importance during the Renaissance. Designed and created by the same ruling family, the Gonzaga, two different but complimentary models were applied for each location. In fact, Sabbioneta is a newer city realized by Vespasiano Gonzaga in the second half of the sixteenth century as the ideal capital for his duchy; Mantua instead presents itself as a transformation of an existing city, which changed the ancient urban configuration. Founded during the Etruscan- Roman epoch and modified in the medieval era, then to adhere to the ideals of Renaissance town planning. Two cities, one unique site, a cultural heritage of the past, essential to safeguard and transmit to future generations.