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Ducal Palace, Mantua

Ducal Palace, Mantua: Our most recommended tours and activities

Mantua: Self-Guided Audio Tour to the City of Lakes

1. Mantua: Self-Guided Audio Tour to the City of Lakes

Italy is full of beautiful cities but exploring Mantua, the City of Lakes in the heart of the Po Valley isn’t an experience to be missed. On this walking tour, I’ll guide you through the UNESCO World Heritage Site where the great poet Virgil was born. I’ll show you its labyrinth of charming streets that open onto gorgeous piazzas, and share the highlights of its history and cuisine. Starting in front of Castle of San Giorgio (Castello di San Giorgio), I’ll tell you about the three lakes surrounding the city which are said to originate from prophetess Manto’s tears – and how they were actually built by marvelous engineers over 800 years ago. At Piazza delle Erbe (Market’s Square), I’ll show you traces of the powerful medieval Canossa family, including the oldest church in the city, Rotonda di San Lorenzo, which they commissioned. I’ll also tell you why this spot was chosen for the church and how it’s connected to the Holy Blood of Jesus Christ. Strolling past the many beautiful gothic-style medieval buildings, you’ll hear stories about the city’s various rulers including the Bonacolsi and Gonzaga families, who were part of the oldest dynasties in Europe. You’ll see Campanile di San Domenico, best known as the city’s centre for the Inquisition, and some impressive palatial homes including Palazzo del Capitano, Palazzo della Ragione, and the Ducal Palace. Finally, I’ll guide you through the former Jewish Ghetto, where I’ll show you La Casa del Rabbino which once housed the community’s rabbis. Along the way, you’ll have a chance to: • Hear about Matilda Canossa, who ruled over all of Tuscany and commissioned the Rotonda di San Lorenzo • See Rigoletto’s House, the building hand-picked in 1851 to feature in Giuseppe Verdi’s opera Rigoletto • Find out where you can see Camera degli Sposi, the breathtaking fresco by Renaissance artist Andrea Mantegna • Gaze upon the Basilica di Sant Andrea, Cattedrale di San Pietro, and the Church of Santa Barbara • Tuck into local specialties like Risotto alla Mantovana, pumpkin toretelli, pumpkin gnocchi, and Mantua Salame • Learn about Mantua’s Jewish community, which was once large enough to have six synagogues Join me and see Mantua through the ages of Antiquity, the Middle Ages, and the Renaissance, and enjoy a touch of excellent Italian cuisine.

Mantova City Center and Ducal Palace: 3-Hour Guided Tour

2. Mantova City Center and Ducal Palace: 3-Hour Guided Tour

Surrounded by 3 small lakes, Mantova rises almost magically from the waters. The relationship between Mantua and water is a very close one: the Mincio River, the lakes and the medieval canal known as Rio are all entwined in Mantovan traditions. On a 3-hour walking tour in the city center you’ll discover how water and earth are unexpectedly interwoven. See stunning buildings, squares and churches. Learn about the importance of the Gongaza family in fine art and how they transformed their home into what is today the largest museum in Italy. The Ducal Palace was built between the 14th and the 17th centuries as the family’s royal residence in the capital of their duchy. The buildings are connected by corridors and galleries and feature inner courts and gardens. The complex includes about a thousand rooms and occupies an area of 34,000 square meters. Although most famous for Mantegna's frescos in the Camera degli Sposi (Wedding Room), there are many other very significant architectural and painted elements. Visit Rigoletto's House, see the exterior of the Saint George Castle and visit Piazza Castello, Piazza Santa Barbara and Piazza lega Lombarda. At Piazza Sordello you’ll have views of the Ducal Palace façade, the Cathedral, Vicolo Bonacolsi, Piazza Broletto with the medieval Palazzo del Podesta and Palazzo del Massaro and Arengario. Piazza delle Erbe is surrounded by the Palazzo della Ragione, the Clock Tower and the Saint Lorenzo Church. See the façade of the Merchant's House, Piazza Mantegna with the Basilica of Sant'Andrea built by Leon Battista Alberti and Piazza Leon Battista Alberti with the former cloister of the Sant'Andrea Monastery. No entrance tickets are needed on this city center tour, unless you’d like to visit the beautiful Bibiena Theatre where Mozart played when he was 13 years old (entrance €2). Churches close at noon and re-open at 15.00. During services entrance to visit churches is not permitted. For the Ducal Palace the entrance fee is €13. The Castle and Ducal Palace limit entrance to groups not larger than 25 people. For larger groups additional guides are needed and bookings are required in advance. On the first Sunday of every month, entrance to the Ducal Palace is free of charge, but cannot be booked in advance. As only 1,500 people per day can enter the room painted by Mantegna, on these special Sundays it may be impossible to enter that particular room.

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What people are saying about Ducal Palace, Mantua

Overall rating

4.8 / 5

based on 22 reviews

The guide, Manuela Roversi, is very good, she enchanted us with the history of Mantua and the Gonzaga family. A visit not to be missed!