MADONNARI: art is not dead ...at all!
Ma chi sono i Madonnari ?
Valenti artisti che con abilit? trasformano una porzione di suolo in un piccolo capolavoro dell'arte. Non importa se su di una strada, un selciato, asfalto o cemento con gesti sapienti e con l'aiuto di comuni gessetti colorati ripropongono le opere dei migliori artisti. ogni anno si ritrovano sul sagrato del Santuario di Santa Maria delle Grazie (a 5 Km da Mantova il 15 agosto, giorno dell'Assunta).
Vedere la perfezione d queste effimere opere fa... VENIRE LA PELLE D'OCA!
Madonnari...? Who are they? ARTISTS! not common ones, but very special painters who use streets as their canvas.
You'll find them every year on 15th August in front of the church of Santa Maria delle Grazie (5Km from Mn)
Palazzo Ducale (3)
Most memorable of all is an entire room of frescos by Andrea Mantegna which is to be found in St George’s castle, the fortified part of the complex. The series was commissioned by Duke Lodovico in 1471 and is known as “The Room of the Married Couple”. The Duke is shown in one fresco reading a letter. He is accompanied by his wife, children, servants, dwarf and courtiers, who are all vividly depicted dressed in glowing colours mostly of Autumnal gold and scarlet. Another fresco shows the Duke and his entourage meeting his son Francesco, a cardinal resplendent in scarlet and pale blue, on a journey. They are surrounded by younger family members and followers dressed in elegant capes and leggings. Mantegna has painted himself just behind and to the right of the cardinal. An idealised city is depicted in the background. Yet another fresco portrays the horses and hounds which were so beloved by the Gonzaga family together with some dashing young courtiers.
What makes these frescos so memorable is that Mantegna has not simply painted stylish images, the paintings show character too – these are people with hopes, ambitions, fears, ideas – just like ourselves. I suspect that if you were there – at the Gonzaga Court – you could name each and every one of them.
Technically Mantegna was ahead of his time, his paintings showed skilled use of perspective. The ceiling, the first of its kind, shows angles and peacocks peeping down from a circular structure into the room, with a blue and white sky beyond them.
We had this room completely to ourselves – for as long as we wished. There were no glass screens or timed entry, no crowds, no standing on tiptoe, no peering over a stranger’s shoulder, and no queues. All of this has inevitably become common in the grander, better known galleries of Italy, so, if you want to see something special, go NOW, before the crowds discover this hidden gem !
Palazzo del Podesta
Palazzo del Podesta is composed of two contiguous structures, one overlooking the Piazza Broletto with the tall Town Tower - Torre Comunale -, the other overlooking Piazza delle Erbe. There were originally two symmetrical towers but one on the southeast was torn down in the early 1900s.
Palazzo del Podesta, also known as Broletto, dates from 1227 and was subsequently damaged by the fire in 1413 and then restored several times by the Gonzaga, until finally, after 1462 Luca Fancelli was called in.
Mantova and Mantegna
"Page Under Construction - Tips following"
Mantova, or Mantua as it is more often known in English, is a small gem of a city rising from the plains of Lombardy. The city is bordered on three sides by the River Mincio and is approached by a causeway. The city is crammed with culture boasting two large palaces, a beautiful astrological clock and several important churches, not to mention some attractive shops and restaurants.
We only had a day in Mantua and spent much of our time visiting the Ducal Palace of the Gonzaga family who ruled for several hundred years from 1328. But now we have an excuse to go back - to visit the Palazzo del Te.
Allow plenty of time if you wish to see all there is in Mantua. As is often the case, Italy is extravagant with its treasures and this little city has so much to offer. We plan to return one day.
(One of our few travelling rules is: "Always leave something to return to another time" )
The tips on the Gonzaga Palace were written by my wife Liz, before she became a member of VT.