Mantova strikes the visitor with its welcoming atmosphere. It is a breathless city, floating on water, surrounded by the river banks that give to it a timeless charme, making Mantova the main actor on an almost surreal stage, made of history, arts and nature.
The city is more than 2.000 years old and its origins date back to Italy’s Etruscan time. Mantova’s first relevant development goes back to the time of the Comuni (Free Cities), but it was under the rule of the Gonzaga family, starting in the 14th century, that the city reached its cultural and artistic peak, giving the city its actual urbanist and architectonic shape.
During their four centuries long rule, the Gonzagas, lovers of arts and beauty, hosted the most illustrious and greatest artists of their time, like Leon Battista Alberti, Pisanello, Andrea Mantegna, Giulio Romano, Peter Paul Rubens e many others, whose artworks characterise Mantova’s today’s splendour.
Symbols of these richness are the Museum Complex of Palazzo Ducale, with the Castle of San Giorgio, within which one can admire the most famous ‘Camera degli Sposi’, by Andrea Mantegna; the suburban villa of Palazzo Te, Giulio Romano’s masterpiece, with rooms and spaces absolutely extraordinary, such as the ‘Sala dei Cavalli’, ‘Sala dei Giganti’ and the ‘Sala di Amore e Psiche’; the Basilica of Sant’Andrea, designed by Leon Battista Alberti and the Basilica Palatina of Santa Barbara. The city enjoyed a great cultural development also in the following centuries, especially during the 700’s. Examples are the Scientific Theatre Bibiena, the City Library Teresiana and Palazzo d’Arco.
The Renaissance style city centre lies inside of the large Natural Reserve of the River Mincio Valleys, giving the impression of being sunk in the waters of the three lakes that surround it. As a result, Mantova is also well famous for its natural landscapes, one can explore on foot, by bike or by boat.
Since July 2008 Mantova and the nearby town of Sabbioneta are listed by the UNESCO as World Heritage. In 2016 was awarded the title of Italian Capital of Culture and in November of the same year is awarded Italy Most Liveable City by the magazine Italia Oggi jointly with University La Sapienza of Rome. In 2017 was given the title of European Region of Gastronomy, together with the other provinces of Bergamo, Brescia and Cremona (East Lombardy) and always in 2017 was ranked 1st by Legambiente - Urban Ecosystem Reseach as Italy’s greenest city. In 2019 will be European City of Sport.
Mantova, a 2.000 years old etruscan-roman city that has gone through Renaissance standards, is still an evolving city, yet respecting its history and traditions, creating ongoing dialogues between modern and ancient history, past and future. This strong attitude towards innovation and development is symbolically represented by the urban development plan known as ‘Mantova Hub’; funded partly by the Italian Government with 18 million Euros, it includes the recovery, the redefinition and new functionalities of a space between the Lower Lake’s waters and the city centre, re-thinking and re-designing a system of spaces, currently underused, abandoned and in heavy decay. The development plan will transform the area in collective spaces that will host and connect harmoniously the main features of both natural and urban landscape.
Amongst history, arts and culture ineluctably intertwined at every corner, Mantova is a cultural heritage with an essential past to be preserved and pass onto the next generations as an example of efficient symbiosis between tradition and innovation.