The great thing about Mantova (Mantua) is that if you just walk, you will discover many hidden "gems" such as the one in the picture of the grotesque fountain.
What a "hoot" When we stumbled upon it, we could not believe that the water was coming out of the nostrils. The reason that I even noticed this clever fountain was because a local girl was filling up a jug with the water from this fountain, and I glanced at her and then the source of the water. "For heaven's sake", I thought.
Funny, but it is these small, insignificant moments that I remember.
It's a flat fountain against a wall of a tower. Other such fountains abound in the city as well as statues, unusual balconies, and wonderful heavy wooden doors. It's just a joy to discover some new "item" each day.
Fondest memory: Walking in this town of culture, art, history, and architure is a delightful activity. You just never know what you are going to find next.
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Mantova has rich cultural and artistic heritage. It’s a town of famous Countess Matilde di Canossa, Isabella d’Este, Publio Virgilio Marone, Andrea Mantegne and others. Old part of town has a lot of interesting buildings erected during last 10 centuries.
Fondest memory: Didn’t remember purpose of this modern building on the photo or the name of architect but still remember sharp arches and all decoration on it.
When we walked into the central square we saw this small building that looked out of place, or out of time with the buildings surrounding it. Since this was not a planned trip, but rather a surprise from Chiara and Alex, we were unprepared with history and such, but did find on Wikipedia the following:
"It is the most ancient church in the city, having been built during the reign of the Canossa family in the late 11th century. Inspired by the Holy Sepulchre church in Jerusalem and dedicated to the martyr St. Lawrence, it has a central plan and has maintained ancient features like the matronaeum (loggia for female faithful) and frescoes of Byzantine school from the 11th-12th century. Another fresco fragment in the apse, portraying the Martyrdom of St. Lawrence, dates to 15th century. The construction, according to the Lombard tradition, is in bricks, but has two columns and other details in marble, coming from ancient edifices.
Deconsecrated, it was used for dwellings, shops and stores, and at the beginning of the 20th century it was covered by other edifices. Later it was restored and the external additions removed.
Coordinates: 45‹09Œ29N 10‹47Œ40E / 45.15806‹N 10.79444‹E / 45.15806; 10.79444"
Well when I read that it was "inspired by" the Holy Sepulchre church in Jerusalem, I had to stop and think about that..this place is tiny and the one in Jerusalem is HUGE and it is also not round, so I totally failed to see where the inspiration came from....or if it did, it strayed VERY FAR from the original.
Fondest memory: Zohara and Alex did find some information inside the Rotunda although the light was not really meant for reading or study.
Once again used the wikipedia for information here in Mantua, the link is here,
that is if you would like more history and photos.
What struck us was the beauty of the entrance arch with the inset square depressions which made a very striking ceiling.
While we did not have time in our whirlwind tour of Mantua to enter the Cathedral, thought I would enter it for the information so the next traveler could make it inside.
Some information at wikipedia,
we will have to visit it when we return to our friends Chiara and Alex.
This is a little city with all attraction concentrated in small central area of the old town= 1/4-1/8 of it inside walls. So, you don't need more than 3-4 hour to view them all.
Take this consideration in account while planning your trip, particularly if you go by gar. The city does not worth more than half a day.
Beautiful things to see and do in Mantua:
Piazza Sordello, Piazza delle Erbe
Shopping among old palaces in the old town
Literature Festival every year in September
The three encircling lakes
The sweet Mantuan countryside
We actually stayed at a farm close to the city.
If you're also looking for this kind of accommodation (it's called 'agriturismo' in Italian) you can find useful information on this website, there you have a list of ALL farmhouses and B&B's near Mantua:
Fondest memory: A walk in Piazza Sordello, me and my husband only, on a warm summer night.