Mantua, frescoes heaven
Mantua (Mantova) was founded by Etruscans. Later occupied by Gauls and Romans, it was sacked by Lombards and became an earldom under Charles the Great.
Mantua is deeply intertwined with the Gonzaga Family. During their reign from 1328 to 1707, they transformed the city into a Court of grand splendor.
Did you know that Virgil was born here?
Federico Gonzaga, first duke of Mantua and son of the very illustrious marquess, Isabella d'Este, wanted a place of pleasures and leisure for his lover Isabella Boschetti. It was built between 1525 and 1534 on a project by Giulio Romano who also took care of the interior decorations and frescoes.
I would not do justice to these magnificient works of art writing about them so please check the official website for more info. Also not all rooms were open when I went there and I lost photos as well.
Chamber of Tiziano (Titian)
Chamber of Ovid - Camera di Ovidio (Metamorfosi)
Camera delle Impresse
Chamber of the Devices
Devices are hieraldic emblems.
Camera del Sole e della Luna
Chamber of the Sun and the Moon
Loggia delle Muse
Loggia of the Muses
Sala dei Cavalli
Hall of the Horses
Camera di Amore e Psiche
Chamber of Cupid and Psyche
The Sala di Amore e Psiche, frescoed with the intent to describe the love between the Duke Vincenzo and Isabella Boschetti, was used as a banquet hall.
Camera dei Venti
Chamber of the Winds
Camera delle Aquile
Chamber of the Eagles
Loggia of David
Camera dei Stucchi
Chamber of the Stuccoes
Camera dei Imperatori
Chamber of the Emperors
Sala dei Giganti
Chamber of the Giants
The spectacular Hall of the Giants recreates the episode of the attempt by Giants and Titants to chase the gods from Mount Olympus.
Complesso museale di Palazzo Ducale
The Palazzo Ducale di Mantova is one of the largest and most complex Italian architectural complexes, in which a state museum has been established since the beginning of the 20th century. It is also one of the biggest museum complexes in Europe, along with the Vatican museums. With 500 rooms, numerous buildings connected by corridors and galleries, courtyards and gardens, it resembles a sort of city-palace.
Residence of the Gonzaga family, which permanently resides within it between 1328 and 1707, the palace developed over the four centuries of their dominion over Mantua and the territory.
Castello di San Giorgio
The castle of San Giorgio was built in 1395 by the Gonzaga family for defensive purpose as well as display of economic and political power. The castle, very similar to the one in Ferrara, was transformed from a defensive construction to a residence in 1459 by architect Luca Fancelli and enriched with important frescoes including the very famous "Camera Picta" or Camera degli Sposi.
To see the great masterpiece of Mantegna, you need to pre-book your visit.
The fresco describes the reigning family group together with part of the court. The artist managed to transform a narrow square room into a loggia open to infinite spaces.
The other rooms house the precious Freddi Collection composed of paintings, artefacts and tears of frescoes from Mantua purchased from the biggest world auction houses by the entrepreneur.
Studiolo d'Isabella d'Este
Isabella d'Este's apartment consisted of two small rooms on the main floor of the castle of San Giorgio. The "studiolo" is located in the tower of San Niccolò and the "cave" is below the study. It was accessed via a ladder. Isabella gathered her collections in this appartment decorated with frescoes based on mythological and allegorical themes. There are also some beautiful pannels in wood. Unfortunately I lost the photos.
La sala di Manto
Manto is a mythological person who, according to Virgil, was the mother of the legendary founder of Mantua.
This beautiful room was completely frescoed in the middle of the 16th century and recently restored.
Sala degli Arcieri (Hall of the Archers)
The Gonzaga Family in Adoration of the Holy Trinity was painted by Rubens. It is depicting the family of Vincenzo I Gonzaga, who commissioned the canvas in 1604 for the church of the Holy Trinity.
Galleria degli Specchi (Gallery of Mirrors)
Galleria del Passerino (Gallery of the Sparrow)
Sala dello zodiaco
This room has a ceiling frescoed in blue and shows constellations of the northern hemisphere.
Sala di Troia
The museum is modern, pleasant to visit and mostly known for its display of the Amanti di Valdaro. The Lovers of Valdaro might not be lovers at all but their double burial dated from the Neolithic period is the only one found in Italy so far.
Fun fact: they were nicknamed like this not only because of their position but also because they were discovered around Saint-Valentine.
Casa Museo Palazzo Valenti Gonzaga
This amazing building houses a hotel and a museum. There are some beautiful frescoes inside.
Casa della beata Osanna Andreasi
This house is a rare example of a 15 century house that has remained almost intact over the centuries.
Casa di Rigoletto
Housing the Tourism Information Centre, this cute little building is best known for its sculpture of Rigoletto, from the Verdi's opera.
Loggia/Pescherie di Giulio Romano
Basilica di Sant’Andrea
The basilica houses some spectacular trompe l'oeil frescoes.