Mantua (Italian: Mantova [ˈmantova] ( listen); Emilian and
Latin: Mantua) is a city and comune in Lombardy, Italy, and capital of
the province of the same name.
Mantua became Italian Capital of Culture. In 2017, Mantua
will also be European Capital of Gastronomy, included in the Eastern
Lombardy District (together with the cities of Bergamo, Brescia, and
In 2007, Mantua's centro storico (old town) and
UNESCO to be a World Heritage Site. Mantua's historic
power and influence under the
Gonzaga family has made it one of the
main artistic, cultural, and especially musical hubs of Northern Italy
and the country as a whole.
Mantua is noted for its significant role
in the history of opera; the city is also known for its architectural
treasures and artifacts, elegant palaces, and the medieval and
Renaissance cityscape. It is the place where the composer Monteverdi
premiered his opera
L'Orfeo and where
Romeo was banished in
Romeo and Juliet. It is the nearest town to the
birthplace of the Roman poet Virgil, who was commemorated by a statue
at the lakeside park "Piazza Virgiliana".
Mantua is surrounded on three sides by artificial lakes, created
during the 12th century, as the city's defence system. These lakes
receive water from the
Mincio River, a tributary of the Po River which
Lake Garda. The three lakes are called Lago Superiore,
Lago di Mezzo, and Lago Inferiore ("Upper", "Middle", and "Lower"
Lakes, respectively). A fourth lake,
Lake Pajolo, which once served as
a defensive water ring around the city, dried up at the end of the
The area and its environs are important not only in naturalistic
terms, but also anthropologically and historically; research has
highlighted a number of human settlements scattered between Barche di
Solferino and Bande di Cavriana, Castellaro and Isolone del Mincio.
These dated, without interruption, from
Neolithic times (5th–4th
millennium BC) to the
Bronze Age (2nd–1st millennium BC) and the
Gallic phases (2nd–1st centuries BC), and ended with Roman
residential settlements, which could be traced to the 3rd century
1.1 After the Fall of the Roman Empire
Free Imperial City
Free Imperial City of Mantua
1.2 House of Gonzaga
1.3 From Gonzaga to Habsburg
1.4 Unification of Italy
2 Main sights
5 Twin towns – sister cities
6 Famous citizens
7 Fictional characters
8 See also
11 External links
Timeline of Mantua
Timeline of Mantua and Duchy of Mantua
Mantua was an island settlement which was first established about the
year 2000 BC on the banks of River Mincio, which flows from
to the Adriatic Sea. In the 6th century BC,
Mantua was an Etruscan
village which, in the Etruscan tradition, was re-founded by
The name may derive from the Etruscan god Mantus. After being
conquered by the Cenomani, a Gallic tribe,
Mantua was subsequently
fought between the first and second
Punic wars against the Romans, who
attributed its name to Manto, a daughter of Tiresias. This territory
was later populated by veteran soldiers of Augustus. Mantua's most
famous ancient citizen is the poet Virgil, or Publius Vergilius Maro,
Mantua me genuit), who was born in the year 70 BC at a village near
the city which is now known as Virgilio.
After the Fall of the Roman Empire
After the fall of the
Western Roman Empire
Western Roman Empire at the hands of
Mantua was, along with the rest of Italy, conquered by
the Ostrogoths. It was retaken by the Eastern Roman Empire in the
middle of the 6th century following the Gothic war but was
subsequently lost again to the Lombards. They were in turn conquered
Charlemagne in 774, thus incorporating
Mantua into the Frankish
Empire. Partitions of the empire (due to the Franks' use of partible
inheritance) in the Treaties of Verdun and Prüm led to
Middle Francia in 843, then the Kingdom of
Italy in 855. In 962
Italy was invaded by King Otto I of Germany, and
Mantua thus became a
vassal of the newly formed Holy Roman Empire.
In the 11th century,
Mantua became a possession of Boniface of
Canossa, marquis of Tuscany. The last ruler of that family was the
countess Matilda of Canossa (d. 1115), who, according to legend,
ordered the construction of the precious
Rotonda di San Lorenzo
Rotonda di San Lorenzo (or
St. Lawrence's Roundchurch) in 1082. The Rotonda still exists today
and was renovated in 2013.
Free Imperial City
Free Imperial City of Mantua
After the death of Matilda of Canossa,
Mantua became a free commune
and strenuously defended itself from the influence of the Holy Roman
Empire during the 12th and 13th centuries. In 1198, Alberto Pitentino
altered the course of River Mincio, creating what the Mantuans call
"the four lakes" to reinforce the city's natural protection. Three of
these lakes still remain today and the fourth one, which ran through
the centre of town, was reclaimed during the 18th century.
From 1215, the city was ruled under the podesteria of the
Gallic-Guelph Rambertino Buvalelli.
Expulsion of the
Bonacolsi in 1328, scene of Piazza Sordello, canvas
of Domenico Morone.
During the struggle between the Guelphs and the Ghibellines, Pinamonte
Bonacolsi took advantage of the chaotic situation to seize power of
the podesteria in 1273. He was declared the Captain General of the
Bonacolsi family ruled
Mantua for the next two generations
and made it more prosperous and artistically beautiful. On August 16,
1328, Luigi Gonzaga, an official in Bonacolsi's podesteria, and his
family staged a public revolt in
Mantua and forced a coup d'état on
Bonacolsi ruler, Rinaldo.
House of Gonzaga
Ludovico Gonzaga, who had been
Mantua since 1318, was duly
elected Captain General of the People. The Gonzagas built new walls
with five gates and renovated the city in the 14th century; however,
the political situation did not settle until the third ruler of
Gonzaga, Ludovico III Gonzaga, who eliminated his relatives and
centralised power to himself. During the Italian Renaissance, the
Gonzaga family softened their despotic rule and further raised the
level of culture and refinement in Mantua.
Mantua became a
significant center of
Renaissance art and humanism. Marquis
Gianfrancesco Gonzaga had brought
Vittorino da Feltre
Vittorino da Feltre to
1423 to open his famous humanist school, the Casa Giocosa.
Isabella d'Este, Marchioness of Mantua, married Francesco II Gonzaga,
Mantua in 1490. When she moved to
was the daughter of Duke Ercole the ruler of Ferrara) she created her
famous studiolo firstly in
Castello di San Giorgio
Castello di San Giorgio for which she
commissioned paintings from Mantegna,
Perugino and Lorenzo Costa. She
later moved her studiolo to the Corte Vecchia and commissioned two
Correggio to join the five from Castello di San
Giorgio. It was unusual for a woman to have a studiolo in 15thC Italy
given they were regarded as masculine spaces. Isabella was a
vociferous collector and such was her reputation that Niccolò da
Corregio called her 'la prima donna del mondo'.
Ludovico Gonzaga receiving the news of his son Francesco being elected
cardinal, fresco by
Andrea Mantegna in the Stanza degli Sposi of
Through a payment of 120,000 golden florins in 1433, Gianfrancesco I
was appointed Marquis of
Mantua by the Emperor Sigismund, whose niece
Brandenburg married his son, Ludovico. In 1459, Pope Pius
II held the Council of
Mantua to proclaim a crusade against the Turks.
Under Ludovico and his heirs, the famous
Renaissance painter Andrea
Mantegna worked in
Mantua as court painter, producing some of his most
Duchy of Mantua
The first Duke of
Mantua was Federico II Gonzaga, who acquired the
title from the Holy Roman
Emperor Charles V
Emperor Charles V in 1530. Federico
Giulio Romano to build the famous Palazzo Te, on the
periphery of the city, and profoundly improved the city. In the late
Claudio Monteverdi came to
Mantua from his native
Cremona. He worked for the court of Vincenzo I Gonzaga, first as a
singer and violist, then as music director, marrying the court singer
Claudia Cattaneo in 1599.
From Gonzaga to Habsburg
In 1627, the direct line of the
Gonzaga family came to an end with the
vicious and weak Vincenzo II, and
Mantua slowly declined under the new
rulers, the Gonzaga-Nevers, a cadet French branch of the family. The
War of the Mantuan Succession
War of the Mantuan Succession broke out, and in 1630 an Imperial army
Landsknecht mercenaries besieged Mantua, bringing the plague
Mantua has never recovered from this disaster. Ferdinand
Carlo IV, an inept ruler, whose only interest was in holding parties
and theatrical shows, allied with
France in the War of the Spanish
Succession. After the French defeat, he took refuge in
carried with him a thousand pictures. At his death in 1708, the Duke
Mantua was declared deposed and his family of Gonzaga lost Mantua
forever in favour of the Habsburgs of Austria.
Under Austrian rule,
Mantua enjoyed a revival and during this period
the Royal Academy of Sciences, Letters and Arts, the Scientific
Theatre, and numerous palaces were built.
In 1786, ten years before Napoleon Bonaparte's campaign of Europe, the
Duchy of Mantua
Duchy of Mantua briefly united with the
Duchy of Milan
Duchy of Milan until
On June 4, 1796,
Mantua was besieged by Napoleon's army as a move
against Austria, who had joined the
First Coalition against France.
Austrian and Russian attempts to break the siege failed, but they were
able to spread the French forces thinly enough that the siege was
abandoned on 31 July. After diverting the French forces elsewhere, the
French resumed the siege on August 24. In early February 1797, the
city surrendered and the region came under French administration. Two
years later, in 1799, the city was recaptured by the Austrians after
the Siege of
Later, the city again passed into Napoleon's control and became a part
of the Napoleon's Kingdom of Italy. In 1810
Andreas Hofer was shot by
Porta Giulia, a gate of the town at Borgo di Porto (Cittadella) for
leading the insurrection in the
County of Tyrol
County of Tyrol against Napoleon.
Kingdom of Lombardy–Venetia
After the brief period of French rule,
Mantua returned to
1814, becoming one of the
Quadrilatero fortress cities in northern
Italy. Under the Congress of Vienna (1815),
Mantua became a province
in the Austrian Empire's Kingdom of Lombardy–Venetia. Agitation
against Austria, however, culminated in a revolt which lasted from
1851 to 1855, but it was finally suppressed by the Austrian army. One
of the most famous episodes of the Italian
Risorgimento took place in
the valley of the Belfiore, where a group of rebels was hanged by the
Unification of Italy
At the Battle of
Solferino (Franco-Austrian War) in 1859, the House of
Savoy's Piedmont-Sardinia sided with the French Emperor Napoleon III
against the Austrian Empire. Following Austria's defeat,
ceded to France, who transferred
Lombardy to Piedmont-Sardinia in
Nice and Savoy.
Mantua, although a constituent province of Lombardy, still remained
under the Austrian Empire along with Venetia. In 1866, Prussia-led
North German Confederation
North German Confederation sided with the newly established,
Piedmont-led Kingdom of
Italy against the Austrian Empire. The quick
Austria led to its withdrawal of the Kingdom of Venetia
(including the capital city, Venice).
Mantua reconnected with the
Lombardy and was incorporated into the Kingdom of Italy.
UNESCO World Heritage Site
Mantua and Sabbioneta
Cultural: ii, iii
2008 (32nd Session)
Church of Santa Paola.
The Gonzagas protected the arts and culture, and were hosts to several
important artists such as Leone Battista Alberti, Andrea Mantegna,
Giulio Romano, Donatello, Peter Paul Rubens, Pisanello, Domenico
Luca Fancelli and Nicolò Sebregondi. Though many of the
masterworks have been dispersed, the cultural value of
nonetheless outstanding, with many of Mantua's patrician and
ecclesiastical buildings being uniquely important examples of Italian
Main landmarks include:
Palazzo Te (1525–1535), a creation of
Giulio Romano (who lived
Mantua in his final years) in the mature
Renaissance style, with
some hints of a post-Raphaelian mannerism. It was the summer
residential villa of Frederick II of Gonzaga. It hosts the Museo
Civico (with the donations of Arnoldo Mondadori, one of the most
important Italian publishers, and Ugo Sissa, a Mantuan architect who
Iraq from where he brought back important Mesopotamian
The Palazzo Ducale, famous residence of the Gonzaga family, made up of
a number of buildings, courtyards and gardens gathered around the
Palazzo del Capitano, the Magna Domus and the Castle of St. George
with the Camera degli Sposi, a room frescoed by Andrea Mantegna.
The Basilica of Sant'Andrea was begun in 1462 according to designs by
Leon Battista Alberti
Leon Battista Alberti but was finished only in the 18th century when
was built the massive dome designed by Filippo Juvarra.
The Duomo (Cathedral of Saint Peter the Apostle)
The Rotonda di San Lorenzo
The Bibiena Theater, also known as the Teatro Scientifico, was made by
Antonio Bibiena in 1767-1769. It was opened officially on 3 December
1769 and on 16 January 1770, thirteen-year-old Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
played a concert.
The church of San Sebastiano
The Palazzo Vescovile ("Bishops Palace")
The Palazzo degli Uberti
Palazzo d'Arco, a Neoclassical palace erected by the eponoymous noble
family from Trento starting from 1746. It is home to a museum and
painting gallery with works by Bernardino Luini, Alessandro Magnasco,
Frans Pourbus the Younger,
Anthony Van Dyck
Anthony Van Dyck and a painting cycle by
The Torre della Gabbia ("Cage Tower")
The Palazzo del Podestà, Mantua
The Palazzo della Ragione with the Torre dell'Orologio ("Clock Tower")
The Palazzo Bonacolsi
The Palazzo Valenti Gonzaga, an example of Baroque architecture and
decoration, with frescoes attributed to Flemish painter Frans Geffels.
The façade of the palace was designed by Nicolò Sebregondi.
Casa del Mercato, a frescoed
Renaissance building designed by Luca
Fancelli in 1462 and later used by Andrea Mantegna.
House of Mantegna, facing the church of San Sebastiano. It was built
by the eponymous artist starting from 1476, and has plan with a
circular internal court included within an external square building.
It is now used for temporary exhibitions.
The church of Santa Paola, built in the early 15th century by the will
of Marchioness Paola Malatesta, wife of Francesco I. Architects such
Luca Fancelli and
Giulio Romano collaborated to its construction.
It houses the tombs of five members of the Gonzaga family, including
those of Paola and of Francesco II.
The church of Santa Maria del Gradaro, built starting from 1256 on the
site where, according to the tradition,
Saint Longinus was buried. In
1772 it became a store, and was reconsecrated only in the 1950s.
By car, Mantova can be reached on the A4 (Milan-Venice) Highway up to
Verona, then the A22 (Brennero-Modena) Highway. Alternatively, the
city can be reached from
Milan on the State Road 415 (Milan-Cremona)
Cremona and from there State Road 10 (Cremona-Mantova), or from
Verona on the State Road 62.
Mantova railway station, opened in 1873, lies on the train routes of
Mantua and Verona-Mantua-Modena. The station is
a terminus of three regional lines, Mantova to
Cremona and Milan,
Mantova to Monselice, and Mantova to
Verona Porta Nuova and Modena. In
Trenitalia launched a new Rome-Mantova high speed
The closest airport is
Verona-Villafranca Airport. The direct shuttle
bus service running to and from
Mantova railway station
Mantova railway station was canceled
on January 1, 2015. Public connection is now provided by the airport
bus running to and from
Verona Porta Nuova railway station, and the
Verona-Mantova railway line.
Local bus services, urbano (within the city area and suburbs) and
interurbano (within the surrounding towns and villages) are provided
An annual survey of Legambiente (an ecologist movement of Italy) in
Mantua the most 'liveable' city of the country. The
study was based on levels of pollution, quality of life, traffic, and
public transport, among other criteria.
The body of Saint Longinus, twice recovered and lost, was asserted to
have been found once more at
Mantua in 1304, together with the Holy
Sponge stained with Christ's blood.
In William Shakespeare's
Romeo and Juliet,
Romeo spends his period of
exile—his punishment for killing Tybalt—in Mantua. In
Shakespeare's Taming of the Shrew, the schoolmaster who pretends to be
Lucentio's father, Vincentio, is from Mantua.
Claudio Monteverdi was employed by Vincenzo Gonzaga, Duke
of Mantua, ruler of the Duchy of Mantua, when he wrote the Vespers of
1610. Vincenzo's son and successor in 1612, Francesco IV Gonzaga, Duke
of Mantua, summarily sacked Monteverdi, who went on to a more
prestigious position at the Basilica of San Marco, Venice.
Giuseppe Verdi's opera
Rigoletto (based on Victor Hugo's play Le roi
s'amuse) is set in Mantua. Austro-Hungarian authorities in Venice
forced him to move the action from
France to Mantua. A medieval
building with portico and 15th-century loggia in
Mantua is said to be
"Rigoletto's house". It was actually the house of the cathedral
regulars. It was chosen by the
Gonzaga family as the residence of the
legendary fool who was then used by Verdi in his opera.
Mantua has hosted the Festivaletteratura, one of the most
renowned literary events in Europe.
In 2007 the remains of two people, known as the Lovers of Valdaro,
were discovered during the construction of a factory. The remains are
thought to be between 5000 and 6000 years old. It is speculated
that the remains are of two young lovers because the two skeletons
appear to be embracing. 
In May 2012, a deadly earthquake struck Northern Italy, causing damage
to some historic buildings in Mantua, including the Palazzo Ducale.
After months of repair, the Palazzo reopened its doors in September
Antonio Vivaldi was employed by the Governor of
the period 1718-1720.
Twin towns – sister cities
Azuchi, Japan, 2005
Madison, Wisconsin, United States, 2001
Weingarten, Germany, 1998
Pushkin, Russia, 1993
Charleville-Mézières, France, 1963
Nevers, France, 1963
Marcus Antonius Antimachus (c. 1473 – 1552), pioneer of Renaissance
Greek language teaching
Giovanni Battista Bertani
Giovanni Battista Bertani (1516–1576), architect
Giacomo Benefatti (1304 – 1332), Roman Catholic Bishop
Constanzo Beschi, (8 November 1680 – 1742), a well known Tamil poet.
He is known as Vīramāmunivar in Tamil.
Baldassare Castiglione by
Raphael at Louvre-Lens.
Baldassare Castiglione (Italian pronunciation: [baldasˈsaːre
kastiʎˈʎoːne]; December 6, 1478 – February 2, 1529), count of
Casatico, was an Italian courtier, diplomat, soldier and a prominent
Gino Fano (1871–1952), mathematician.
Leone de' Sommi (c. 1525 – c. 1590), theater director and writer.
Pietro Giovanni Guarneri (1655–1720), violin maker of the Guarneri
Cremona in 1679, eventually establishing himself in
Learco Guerra (1902–1963), professional road racing cyclist, in 1931
won the world cycling championship.
Alfredo Guzzoni (1877–1965), Italian Army General in World War II
Alberto Jori, neo-aristotelian philosopher.
Lovers of Valdaro
Claudio Monteverdi (c. 1567 – 1643), composer.
Tazio Nuvolari (1892–1953), motorcycle and racecar driver.
Ippolito Nievo (1831–1861), writer, journalist and patriot.
Giancarlo Pasquini (1963–), musician and singer
Pietro Pomponazzi (1462–1525), an Italian philosopher. He is
sometimes known by his
Latin name, Petrus Pomponatius.
Samuel Romanelli (1757-1814),
Jewish intellectual and travel writer
who published the first modern ethnography of Moroccan Jewry
Salamone Rossi (ca. 1570 – 1630),
Jewish violinist and composer who
served as concertmaster of the
Mantua court from 1587 until 1628.
Giuseppe Sarto (1835–1914), appointed
Bishop in 1884 before he
became Pope Pius X in 1903.
Stefano Scarampella (1843–1925), violin maker, left
Mantua in 1886.
Sordello or Sordel, a 13th-century Lombard troubadour, born in the
Goito in the province of Mantua.
Franca Sozzani, editor-in-chief at
Vogue Italia was born here.
Virgil (70 BCE–19 BCE), a classical Roman poet.
Romeo Montague was banished here.
Giuseppe Verdi's opera,
Rigoletto is set here.
Roman Catholic Diocese of Mantova
Tazio Nuvolari "The flying Mantuan" World-famous racing driver. There
is a museum dedicated to his exploits.
St. Aloysius Gonzaga
St. Aloysius Gonzaga Jesuit, native of
Mantua – died in 1591 at the
age of 23.
Lovers of Valdaro
^ Fagles, Robert, ed.: The Aeneid (2006), 10.242, Penguin Group,
^ Lucchini, Daniele: Rise and fall of a capital. The history of Mantua
in the words of who wrote about it (2013), ISBN 978-1-291-78388-9
^ Conte, Gian Biagio. Trans. Joseph B. Solodow
Latin Literature: A
History Johns Hopkins University Press, 1994.
^ Henry S. Lucas, The
Renaissance and the Reformation (Harper &
Bros. Publishers: New York, 1960) pp. 42-43.
^ Dates of birth and death, and cause of the latter, from
‘Baldassarre Castiglione’ Archived 2009-05-27 at WebCite, Italica,
Rai International online.
^ MacClintock, Carol (1979). Readings in the History of Music in
Performance. Indiana University Press. ISBN 0-253-14495-7.
See also: Bibliography of the history of Mantua
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Mantua.
Wikivoyage has a travel guide for Mantua.
Palazzo Te (in Italian)
Palazzo Ducale (in Italian)
A Mantova To know and to see Mantua
Mantua tourist guide
Mantua tourist guide
Tourist guide in
Mantua A native guide from Mantua
Mantovani Nel Mondo Page dedicated to Mantovani worldwide.
Photo gallery made by a
Mantua on The Campanile Project
Lombardy · Comuni of the Province of Mantua
Acquanegra sul Chiese
Bagnolo San Vito
Borgofranco sul Po
Carbonara di Po
Castiglione delle Stiviere
Gazoldo degli Ippoliti
Ponti sul Mincio
San Benedetto Po
San Giacomo delle Segnate
San Giorgio di Mantova
San Giovanni del Dosso
San Martino dall'Argine
Serravalle a Po
World Heritage Sites in Italy
Mantua and Sabbioneta
Monte San Giorgio1
Porto Venere, Palmaria, Tino and Tinetto, Cinque Terre
Monterosso al Mare
Residences of the Royal House of Savoy
Castle of Moncalieri
Castle of Racconigi
Castle of Rivoli
Castello del Valentino
Royal Palace of Turin
Palazzo Madama, Turin
Palace of Venaria
Palazzina di caccia of Stupinigi
Villa della Regina
Rhaetian Railway in the Albula / Bernina Landscapes1
Rock Drawings in Valcamonica
Sacri Monti of Piedmont and Lombardy
Santa Maria delle Grazie, Milan
Vineyard Landscape of Piedmont: Langhe-
Roero and Monferrato
Torre della Ghirlandina
Torre della Ghirlandina and Piazza Grande, Modena
Orto botanico di Padova
City of Vicenza and the Palladian Villas of the Veneto
Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi
Etruscan Necropolises of
Cerveteri and Tarquinia
Piazza del Duomo, Pisa
Castel del Monte, Apulia
Vallo di Diano
Vallo di Diano National Park,
Paestum and Velia, Certosa
Oplontis and Villa Poppaea
Palace of Caserta,
Aqueduct of Vanvitelli
Aqueduct of Vanvitelli and
San Leucio Complex
Sassi di Matera
Arab-Norman Palermo and the Cathedral Churches of Cefalù and Monreale
Archaeological Area of Agrigento
Syracuse and Necropolis of Pantalica
Val di Noto
Militello in Val di Catania
Villa Romana del Casale
Longobards in Italy, Places of Power (568–774 A.D.)
Cividale del Friuli
Temple of Clitumnus
Temple of Clitumnus located at Campello sul Clitunno
Santa Sofia located at Benevento
Sanctuary of Monte Sant'Angelo
Sanctuary of Monte Sant'Angelo located at Monte Sant'Angelo
Prehistoric pile dwellings around the Alps3
Primeval Beech Forests of Europe4
Venetian Works of Defence between 15th and 17th centuries5
Peschiera del Garda
1 Shared with Switzerland
2 Shared with the Holy See
3 Shared with Austria, France, Germany, Slovenia, and Switzerland
4 Shared with Albania, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Germany,
Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia,
Spain and Ukraine
5 Shared with
Croatia and Montenegro