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From: La Bella Vita Barge Cruise Review

Day 6: Mantua (City Center)

Arriving in Mantua

We arrived in Mantua on a causeway, the Via Legnago, that served as the border between two of Mantua's three lakes: the Lago di Mezzo and the Lago Inferiore. As we drove toward the city center, we could see the massive Palazzo Ducale and the dome of Mantua Cathedral up ahead.


Palazzo Ducale on Piazza Sordello

The Castello di San Giorgio and Palazzo Ducale (shown here on the Piazza Sordello) are Mantua's signature buildings. The Palazzo, built by the rich and ruthless Gonzaga dynasty, is said to have more rooms than Buckingham Palace.

The Gonzagas ruled Mantua from 1328 to 1720, creating a Renaissance city that was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2008. For more information about the city and province, see Mantua, Gem of the Renaissance.


Mantua's historic center

Our visit to Mantua included a tour of the Palazzo Ducale. Since photos weren't allowed inside the palace, we'll skip directly to our next phase: a walk in the city center. This picture shows the Piazza Erbe and St. Lorenzo's Rotunda (the small round building), with the Palazzo della Ragione or Palace of Justice behind.


Outdoor restaurant in Mantua

In the Piazza Broleto (where we found a bancomat or ATM), an outdoor restaurant was serving lunch to locals and tourists.


Earthquake damage in Mantua, Italy

Scaffolding in Mantua

Mantua had suffered during the Emilia-Romagna Earthquakes of spring, 2012, and a few historic buildings were damaged enough to require scaffolding and repairs that were still in evidence during our visit.


Sbrisolona display in Mantua

Nearly every souvenir shop and foodstore in downtown Mantua had a display of Torta Sbrisolona (a.k.a. Torta Montavana) almond cakes. See recipe.


Milk vending machine in Mantua 

This stone doorway provided access to a vending machine that sold fresh milk (presumably to drink with a slice of Sbrisolona).


Sanitation worker in Mantua

Nearby, a sanitation worker swept Sbrisolona crumbs and other debris from the pebble pavement.


Rigoletto's House, Mantua

Our last stop in downtown Mantua was at "Rigoletto's House," where a girl was posing for a snapshot next to a statue of Rigoletto in the garden. We didn't bother to go inside the house, which is a manufactured tourist attraction. (Rigoletto, a fictitious character, obviously couldn't have lived there.)

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