This off the beaten path museum really made my trip! We just came out from Osteria la Fragoletta after a huge lunch and quite a bit of wine an we though that the fire department museum was appropriate for the moment!!
We went inside without big expectations and we were left astonished!
The building was a Gonzaga horse stable and has been restored very well. The fire department got the place for their vehicles collection and the museum is run by retired fireman who volunteer to do it (for free).
They have maybe 50 historical vehicles, all still working and kept in perfect shape, not even a particles of dust sit on them. It is clear that the volunteer group love those car, motorcycle, ramps and horse carriage and work on them constantly.
The man who was at the door was willing to give us every information we wanted, he told us the story of the building and showed us the features of all the vehicles.
They have a huge collection of fireman car miniatures and lots of fire extinguisher from the past.
There is also a collection of historical photos about the big salvage operations they have been involved over the years.
Definitely worth an extensive visit. The Museum is free admittance, a offer is accepted.
You can also ask at the custodian to get the free card to visit several other museum or park for free or with a discount.
This little building was a real find! we saw there was a free exhibit of some sort going on, as all the museums are so expensive nowadays why pass on something free?
So we went in and discovered a small gem.
The church was built on a Mantegna project and built by some of his scholars, his are the frescoes on the wall and it is a real pity the whole building have not been restored completely yet.
We met a retired teacher there, she is one of the volunteers who make sure the place can be open and visible. She was really happy to tell us all about the place.
Since the '50 or so nothing was visible, the frescoes was covered up by several layer of plaster and all was dark and oily as a pots and pan factory was there for decades. At a certain point the municipality needed the building, so they clean it up a little, and assigned the second floor (created in the XIX century) to the municipality kindergarten.... yes, you read it right, the room is STILL the dormitory for the preschool kids!!
Later on a professor of the local university decided to take a better look to the church and realized it was hiding a treasure! The whole big room is covered by frescoes, the most interesting are still invisible because they are in the upper part, yes, where the kids sleep!!
The association that take care of it now is trying to relocate the kids so the church can be taken back to its old splendor.
The big painting you can see on the second picture is really a very good photographic reproduction. The real one, that adorned the main altar and was made by Mantegna have been stolen by Napoleon the third and now is showed in Louvre Museum.
The church is in Mantova center, in Via XX Settembre, corner with Largo Santa Susanna.
Some British people may know that the Scottish writer, J M Barrie, who wrote Peter Pan, also wrote a play called 'The Admirable Crichton', first produced in 1902. Crichton is the butler to an English aristocratic family. The play humourously dissects Edwardian social mores and the class system. Many more Brits will be familiar with the 1957 film adaptation starring Kenneth More.
Very few British people, even Scots, will be aware of THE ORIGINAL Admirable Crichton. He was a Scot who found fame and glory in 16th c. Italy, as a scholar, courtier, soldier and polymath, and who died nobly but tragically in Mantua. (Google him for the full story)
His memorial is on the west wall of the Church of San Simone on the via Domenico Fernelli (5 minutes walk from the city centre) Any Scot visiting Mantua might care to pay homage to this remarkable man, although his story will appeal to anyone with a shred of intellectual curiosity.
The church itself was small, but provided a welcome refuge from the heat and crowds. A picture of a side-chapel altarpiece is attached.
Le giornate FAI di Primavera sono l'incontro delle più disparate persone, grandi, piccoli, giovani, anziani, nelle città, nei paesi, nei borghi, attorno ad un monumento d'arte o ad uno spettacolo naturale per riappropriarsene e promuovere una presa di coscienza verso questi Beni che testimoniano il nostro passato, ma sono anche una realtà presente e rappresentano uno straordinario serbatoio di valori per le generazioni future.
F.A.I (Fondo per l'ambiente Italiano a sort of National Trust) tries to protect elements of Italy's physical heritage which might otherwise be lost and each year ther open to the pyublic several monuments that otherwise would not be accessible.
Ogni venerdì santo i SACRI VASI, contenenti il sangue di Cristo e conservati nella cripta di Sant'Andrea aMantova, vengono prima esposti alla venerazione dei fedeli e successivamente
portati in processione per le vie della città, tradizione questa che negli ultimi anni ha subito una discutibile riduzione.
I Sacri Vasi per il resto dell'anno sono conservati nella cripta sotterranea della Basilica, all'interno dell'altare. Come ogni anno, il il Venerdì Santo, si ripete la cerimonia dell'apertura dei forzieri che custodiscono la Reliquia. Le Autorità civili e religiose, custodi delle chiavi, si alternano per l'apertura delle numerose serrature fino all'apertura dell'ulna.
Some drops of the blood of Jesus are said to have been preserved in the cathedral church of Mantua (Saint Andrew's) and each Good Friday they are brought out along the streets of Mantua in a procession.
These "Sacri Vasi" (Sacred Vessel) are said to had been brought to Mantua by the Roman centurion Longinus. They are preserved in the crypt below the floor of the church.
While in Mantova (Mantua), we went into the Torre Dell'Orologio (Clock Tower) which was built in 1473. The large clock at the center was originally built by the mathematician Bartolomeo Manfredi who was known as Bartolomeo dell'Orologio..thus the name).
The clock has a mechanism that marked the months and the positions of the stars as well as the hours. Today's clock is a 19th-century restoration.
In the tower today is an exhibition room for art. We saw "StageHand". The pictures below show some of that art.
The tower is a great place for an art show because of the lighting.
Palazzo Della Ragione is also known as Palazzo Nuovo and was built in 1250. There are three-light windows, a great salone with 13th-century frescoes of "Prophets" and the "Last Judgement" by a painter from Parma. The architure of this building is lovely.
Mantova has dedicated one park, a national academy, and two streets to the great Latin poet, Publius Virgilius Marone (70 BC-19BC).
We walked to the southern outskirts of the city to see the imposing monument of Virgil in the park. Supposedly, the first plants were put in the Lucus Virgilianus (now called the Bosco Virgiliano) in 1931. Originally, 58,00 plants were to be planted in the 10 hectares of the park.
The park did survive World War II and is now popular with joggers and families from Mantova (Mantua).
Nearby is a sport's center with facilities for rugby, tennis, football, and other athletics. Also a riding and a motocross track is there as well as a golf facility.
I must say that I was most alarmed by the grafitti all over Virgil's statue!
Moltissimi palazzi storici sono private abitazioni e quindi non accessibili al pubblico. (Studiosi e tecnici, probabilmente, ne hanno l'accesso). Altri sono proprietà pubblica ma, usati come uffici, in restauro o abbandonati a se stessi, non sono fruibili.
It is a bit of a walk but well worth it. Plan a couple hours going through all the rooms in the Palace. A small entrance fee is collected at the door.
Unfortunately, some interesting monuments are closed to tourists but you can give a look to the few photos we were able to take!
www.a-mantova.com (link: la città nascosta)