Discovering the Gonzaga empire

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Mantua

The city of Mantua host two importat building the Cathedral and the Palazzo Ducale, both located in the Piazza Sordello. The Cathedral, dedicated to Saint Peter, was built on the remains of an previous church from the 4th century.

It was destroyed by fire two times and it had to be rebuilt in the 14th and the 16th centuries. Nowadays it is an example of three different styles: renaissance gothic and baroque.

The Palazzo Ducale was built towards the end of the 13th century, and it was the house of the Gonzaga, the noble family who governed Mantua.

The picturesque Piazza delle Erbe, is the square built in the heart of the city. Here you can see the Torre dell’Orologio, the tower and the Romanesque church called Rotonda di San Lorenzo, built 1082 under the order of Matilde di Canossa.

Not to far from there there is the Basilica of Sant’Andrea, a memorable work by Leon Battista Alberti, the legendary 15th century Florentine architect. Palazzo Tè, close to the city center, was the palace used by the Gonzaga family as suburban residence and it was built in the 16th century as requested from Federico II Gonzaga. The sumptuous interiors, adorned with frescoes, friezes and ornamental motifs are amazing and let you understand which kind of life rich people lived at that time.

Only 33 kms from Mantua you can visit Sabbioneta, a town that became part of the UNESCO world heritage. Founded by Vespasiano Gonzaga, it has the shape of a six pointed star. The town theatre, built between 1588 and 1590 by the Vicenza-born architect Vincenzo Scamozzi, was designed based on a classical Roman amphitheatre

Even if you don’t like history that much, you should visit these places in order to see how the most powerful families lived in Italy back in time.