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Mantova  (Italian)
Comune di Mantova
Mantova Skyline.jpg
Panorama of Mantua
Coat of arms
Location of Mantua
Italy provincial location map 2016.svg
Red pog.svg
Location of Mantua in Italy
Italy Lombardy location map.svg
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Mantua (Lombardy)
Coordinates: 45°9′23″N10°47′30″E / 45.15639°N 10.79167°E / 45.15639; 10.79167 Coordinates: 45°9′23″N10°47′30″E / 45.15639°N 10.79167°E / 45.15639; 10.79167
Country Italy
Region Lombardy
Province Mantua (MN)
Frazioni Castelletto Borgo, Cittadella, Curtatone, Formigosa, Frassino, Gambarara, Lunetta, Virgiliana
  Mayor Mattia Palazzi (PD)
  Total63.97 km2 (24.70 sq mi)
19 m (62 ft)
 (31 June 2009) [2]
  Density760/km2 (2,000/sq mi)
  • Mantovano (plural: mantovani)
  • Virgiliano (plural: virgiliani)
Time zone UTC+1 (CET)
  Summer (DST) UTC+2 (CEST)
Postal code
Dialing code 0376
Patron saint Saint Anselm
Saint dayMarch 18

Mantua ( /ˈmæntjuə/ ; Italian : Mantova [ˈmantova] ( Loudspeaker.svg listen ); Lombard and Latin : Mantua) is a city and comune in Lombardy, Italy, and capital of the province of the same name.


In 2016, Mantua was designated as the Italian Capital of Culture. In 2017, it was named as the European Capital of Gastronomy, included in the Eastern Lombardy District (together with the cities of Bergamo, Brescia, and Cremona).

In 2006, Mantua's centro storico (old town) and Sabbioneta were declared by 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. Having one of the most splendid courts of Europe of the fifteenth, sixteenth, and early seventeenth centuries. [3] 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 city where the composer Monteverdi premiered his opera L'Orfeo and to where Romeo was banished in Shakespeare's play Romeo and Juliet . It is the nearest town to the birthplace of the Roman poet Virgil, who is 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 descends from 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 18th century.

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 AD.

In 2017, Legambiente ranked Mantua as the best Italian city for the quality of the life and environment. [4]


Mantua was an island settlement which was first established about the year 2000 BC on the banks of River Mincio, which flows from Lake Garda to the Adriatic Sea. In the 6th century BC, Mantua was an Etruscan village which, in the Etruscan tradition, was re-founded by Ocnus. [5] [6]

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. [7]

After the Fall of the Roman Empire

After the fall of the Western Roman Empire at the hands of Odoacer in 476 AD, 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 by 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 Mantua passing 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 (or St. Lawrence's Roundchurch) in 1082. The Rotonda still exists today and was renovated in 2013.

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.

Podesteria Rule

From 1215, the city was ruled under the podesteria of the Guelph poet-statesman Rambertino Buvalelli.

Expulsion of the Bonacolsi in 1328, scene of Piazza Sordello, canvas of Domenico Morone. Domenico morone, la cacciata dei bonacolsi da mantova, 1494.jpg
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 People. 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 the last Bonacolsi ruler, Rinaldo.

House of Gonzaga

Ludovico Gonzaga, who had been Podestà of Mantua since 1318, was duly elected Capitano del popolo. 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. [8] Mantua became a significant center of Renaissance art and humanism. Marquis Gianfrancesco Gonzaga had brought Vittorino da Feltre to Mantua in 1423 to open his famous humanist school, the Casa Giocosa.

Isabella d'Este, Marchioness of Mantua, married Francesco II Gonzaga, Marquess of Mantua in 1490. When she moved to Mantua from Ferrara (she was the daughter of Duke Ercole the ruler of Ferrara) she created her famous studiolo firstly in 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 paintings from Correggio to join the five from Castello di San Giorgio. It was unusual for a woman to have a studiolo in 15th century 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 created a cardinal, fresco by Andrea Mantegna in the Stanza degli Sposi of Palazzo Ducale. Andrea Mantegna 058.jpg
Ludovico Gonzaga receiving the news of his son Francesco being created a cardinal, fresco by Andrea Mantegna in the Stanza degli Sposi of Palazzo Ducale.
Palazzo Te. Palazzo Te Mantova 4.jpg
Palazzo Te.

Through a payment of 120,000 golden florins in 1433, Gianfrancesco I was appointed Marquis of Mantua by the Emperor Sigismund, whose niece Barbara of 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 outstanding works.

Duchy of Mantua

The first Duke of Mantua was Federico II Gonzaga, who acquired the title from the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V in 1530. Federico commissioned Giulio Romano to build the famous Palazzo Te, on the periphery of the city, and profoundly improved the city. In the late 16th century, 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 broke out, and in 1630 an Imperial army of 36,000 Landsknecht mercenaries besieged Mantua, bringing the plague with them. 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 Venice and carried with him a thousand pictures. At his death in 1708, the Duke of 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.

Napoleonic Wars

In 1786, ten years before Napoleon Bonaparte's campaign of Europe, the Austrian Duchy of Mantua briefly united with the Duchy of Milan until 1791.

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 Mantua (1799).

Later, the city again passed into Napoleon's control and became a part of 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 against Napoleon.

Kingdom of Lombardy–Venetia

After the brief period of French rule, Mantua returned to Austria in 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 Austrians.

Unification of Italy

At the Battle of Solferino (Second Italian War of Independence) in 1859, the House of Savoy's Piedmont-Sardinia sided with the French Emperor Napoleon III against the Austrian Empire. Following Austria's defeat, Lombardy was ceded to France, who transferred Lombardy to Piedmont-Sardinia in return for 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 sided with the newly established, Piedmont-led Kingdom of Italy against the Austrian Empire in the Third Italian War of Independence. The quick defeat of Austria led to its withdrawal of the Kingdom of Venetia (including the capital city, Venice). Mantua reconnected with the region of Lombardy and was incorporated into the Kingdom of Italy.

Main sights

Piazza Sordello. Lombardia Mantova1 tango7174.jpg
Piazza Sordello.
UNESCO World Heritage Site
Mantua2 BMK.jpg
Part ofMantua and Sabbioneta
Criteria Cultural: ii, iii
Reference 1287-001
Inscription2008 (32nd session)
Buffer zone1,900 ha
Piazza delle Erbe. MANTOVApiazzaerbe.jpg
Piazza delle Erbe.
Panorama of Mantua. Mantova - Profilo di Mantova.jpg
Panorama of Mantua.
Museum Francesco Gonzaga. 2017-03 Brescia Mattes Pana (223).JPG
Museum Francesco Gonzaga.

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 Fetti, Luca Fancelli and Nicolò Sebregondi. Though many of the masterworks have been dispersed, the cultural value of Mantua is nonetheless outstanding, with many of Mantua's patrician and ecclesiastical buildings being uniquely important examples of Italian architecture.

Main landmarks include:



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) to 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 Milan-Codogno-Cremona-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 September 2016, Trenitalia launched a new Rome-Mantova high speed route. [10]


The closest airport is Verona-Villafranca Airport. The direct shuttle bus service running to and from 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 by APAM.



Since local government political reorganization in 1993, Mantua has been governed by the City Council of Mantua. Voters elect directly 33 councilors and the Mayor of Mantua every five years. The current Mayor of Mantua is Mattia Palazzi (PD), elected on 15 June 2015.

Twin towns – sister cities

Mantua is twinned with: [13]

Notable citizens

Baldassare Castiglione by Raphael at Louvre-Lens. Baldassare Castiglione de Raphael.JPG
Baldassare Castiglione by Raphael at Louvre-Lens.
Tazio Nuvolari Targaflorio23nuvola.jpg
Tazio Nuvolari

In fiction

See also

Related Research Articles

Lombardy Region of Italy

Lombardy is one of the twenty administrative regions of Italy, in the northwest of the country, with an area of 23,844 square kilometres (9,206 sq mi). About 10 million people live in Lombardy, forming more than one-sixth of Italy's population, and more than a fifth of Italy's GDP is produced in the region, making it the most populous, richest and most productive region in the country. It is also one of the top regions in Europe for the same criteria. Milan's metropolitan area is the largest in Italy and the third most populated functional urban area in the EU. Lombardy is also the Italian region with most UNESCO World Heritage Sites—Italy having the highest number of World Heritage Sites in the world. The region is also famous for its historical figures such as Virgil, Pliny the Elder, Ambrose, Caravaggio, Claudio Monteverdi, Antonio Stradivari, Cesare Beccaria, Alessandro Volta, Alessandro Manzoni, and popes John XXIII and Paul VI.

Francesco II Gonzaga, Marquess of Mantua

Francesco II Gonzaga was the ruler of the Italian city of Mantua from 1484 until his death.

Province of Mantua Province of Italy

The Province of Mantua is a province in the Lombardy region of Northern Italy. Its capital is the city of Mantua. It is bordered to the north-east by the Province of Verona, to the east by that of Rovigo, to the south by those of Ferrara, Modena, Reggio Emilia and Parma, to the west by the Province of Cremona and to the north-west by that of Brescia.

Duchy of Mantua

The Duchy of Mantua was a duchy in Lombardy, Northern Italy. Its first duke was Federico II Gonzaga, member of the House of Gonzaga that ruled Mantua since 1328. The following year, the Duchy also acquired the March of Montferrat, thanks to the marriage between Gonzaga and Margaret Paleologa, Marchioness of Montferrat.

Vincenzo Gonzaga, Duke of Mantua Duke of Mantua and Montferrat

Vincenzo Ι Gonzaga was ruler of the Duchy of Mantua and the Duchy of Montferrat from 1587 to 1612.

Sabbioneta Comune in Lombardy, Italy

Sabbioneta is a town and comune in the province of Mantua, Lombardy region, Northern Italy. It is situated about 30 kilometres (19 mi) north of Parma, not far from the northern bank of the Po River. It was inscribed in the World Heritage List in 2008.

Goito Comune in Lombardy, Italy

Goito is a comune of Lombardy, northern Italy, part of the Province of Mantua, from which it is some 20 kilometres (12 mi), on the road to Brescia. It is on the right bank of the Mincio River near the bridge. The town is part of the region known as Alto Mantovano (Upper Mantuan).

Besides Milan, the region of Lombardy has 10 other provinces, each named for the largest city and capital of the respective province: Bergamo, Brescia, Como, Cremona, Lecco, Lodi, Mantova, Pavia, Sondrio, and Varese. Musically, they offer:

Basilica of SantAndrea, Mantua

The Basilica of Sant'Andrea is a Roman Catholic co-cathedral and minor basilica in Mantua, Lombardy (Italy). It is one of the major works of 15th-century Renaissance architecture in Northern Italy. Commissioned by Ludovico III Gonzaga, the church was begun in 1472 according to designs by Leon Battista Alberti on a site occupied by a Benedictine monastery, of which the bell tower (1414) remains. The building, however, was only finished 328 years later. Though later changes and expansions altered Alberti's design, the church is still considered to be one of Alberti's most complete works. It looms over the Piazza Mantegna.

Ducal Palace, Mantua

The Palazzo Ducale di Mantova is a group of buildings in Mantua, Lombardy, northern Italy, built between the 14th and the 17th century mainly by the noble family of Gonzaga as their royal residence in the capital of their Duchy. The buildings are connected by corridors and galleries and are enriched by inner courts and wide gardens. The complex includes some 500 rooms and occupies an area of c. 34,000 m², which make it the sixth largest palace in Europe after the palaces of the Vatican, the Louvre Palace, the Palace of Versailles, the Royal Palace of Caserta and the Castle of Fontainebleau. It has more than 500 rooms and contains 7 gardens and 8 courtyards. Although most famous for Mantegna's frescos in the Camera degli Sposi, they have many other very significant architectural and painted elements.

Lorenzo Leonbruno

Lorenzo Leonbruno, also known as Lorenzo de Leombeni, was an Italian painter during the early Renaissance period. He was born in Mantua (Mantova), an Italian commune in Lombardy, Italy. Leonbruno is most well known for being commissioned by the court of Francesco Gonzaga, Marquis of Mantua, and his wife Isabella d'Este. The patronage continued with their eldest son Federico II Gonzaga, who was the fifth Marquis of Mantua. Leonbruno was the court painter for the Gonzaga family from 1506-1524.

Francesco Bonsignori

Francesco Bonsignori, also known as Francesco Monsignori, was an Italian painter and draughtsman, characterized by his excellence in religious subjects, portraits, architectural perspective and animals. He was born in Verona and died in Caldiero, a city near Verona. Bonsignori's style in early period was under the influence of his teacher Liberale da Verona. After becoming the portraitist and court artist to the Gonzaga family of Mantua in 1487, his style was influenced by Andrea Mantegna, who also worked for Francesco Gonzaga from the 1480s. They collaborated to execute several religious paintings, mainly with the theme of Madonna and Child. The attribution of theportrait of a Venetian Senator was debatable until the last century because of the similarity in techniques used by Bonsignori and his teacher Mantegna. During the phase of his career in Mantua, there is an undocumented period between 1495 and July 1506 with no official record regarding his activities by the court of Mantua. Bonsignori's late style was decisively influenced by Lorenzo Costa in terms of form and color. He produced his last monumental altarpiece the Adoration of the Blessed Osanna Andreasi in 1519 shortly before his death.

Mantova railway station

Mantua Railway Station is the main station of Comune of Mantua in the Region of Lombardy, northern Italy.

Francesco Gonzaga (1444–1483)

Francesco Gonzaga was an Italian bishop and a Cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church during the reigns of Popes Pius II, Paul II and Sixtus IV.

The following is a timeline of the history of the city of Mantua in the Lombardy region of Italy.

Palazzo San Sebastiano

The Palazzo San Sebastiano is a 16th-century palace in Mantua. Built by the Gonzaga family, since 19 March 2005 it has housed Mantua's city museum.

Castello di San Giorgio, Mantua

The Castello di San Giorgio is part of the Ducal palace of Mantua. It is a moated rectangular castle, each of which's four corners has a large tower and the moat is crossed by three drawbridges.

Castelvecchio (Castel Goffredo)

Castelvecchio is the ancient fortified village of Castel Goffredo, in the province of Mantua Lombardy region in Italy, surrounded by walls and a moat. The boundaries currently correspond to the garden of the Palazzo Gonzaga-Acerbi to the north, to vicolo Remoto and vicolo Cannone to the east, to Piazza Mazzini to the south and to piazzetta Castelvecchio and vicolo Castelvecchio to the west.

Ponte dei Mulini, Mantua bridge in Italy

The Ponte dei Mulini is the name attached to the mainly man-made separations made across the Mincio River at Mantua, region of Lombardy, Italy. Never truly one "bridge" however the harnessed passage of the water from the upper, Lago Superiore, to the lower Lago di Mezzo, has been utilized by the local inhabitants to power mills for nearly 900 years, and hydroelectric generation in the present.


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  2. "Popolazione Residente al 1° Gennaio 2018". Istat. Retrieved 16 March 2019.
  3. "Mantua |". Retrieved 2020-10-07.
  4. "Ecosistema Urbano ⋆ Legambiente". 29 October 2018.
  5. Fagles, Robert, ed.: The Aeneid (2006), 10.242, Penguin Group, ISBN   0-670-03803-2
  6. 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
  7. Conte, Gian Biagio. Trans. Joseph B. Solodow Latin Literature: A History Johns Hopkins University Press, 1994.
  8. Henry S. Lucas, The Renaissance and the Reformation (Harper & Bros. Publishers: New York, 1960) pp. 42–43.
  9. 1 2 Brunton, John (29 March 2013). "Mantua: Italy's sleeping beauty city." The Guardian . Retrieved 24 November 2019.
  10. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2016-09-09. Retrieved 2016-09-08.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  11. "".
  12. "Prehistoric Romeo and Juliet discovered :". 27 September 2007.
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