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Home » VisitMincio » Itineraries

The Prince's Itinerary

Discovering cultural and artistic points of interest in the Gonzaga city

On foot By bike         Great Interest: Religion Great Interest: Hystory 
  • Departure: Mantova, Palazzo Te
  • Arrival: Mantova, Piazza Sordello
  • Involved Municipalities: Mantova

This walking or cycling tour winds through Mantua's old town. It goes from Palazzo Te to Piazza Sordello, including the city's most important historic sites and monuments. The stretch between piazza Martiri di Belfiore and Palazzo Te is now completely wheelchair accessible, thus increasing opportunities to enjoy the area.

The citz of Mantua seen from the cupola of the Sant'Andrea basilica
The citz of Mantua seen from the cupola of the Sant'Andrea basilica
(photo by: Monica Nascig)

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The itinerary crosses the city from north to south, connecting the two realms of the House of Gonzaga, and the city's two main cultural centres: Palazzo Ducale and Palazzo Te. The most ancient city area is in Piazza Sordello, which was modified several times until the end of the XIV century. In this period the Gonzaga family, that ruled Mantua since 1328, enlarged the square and transformed it into a grand scenery to show their power.
In addition to Palazzo Ducale, the monumental Gonzaga realm, the square features the Dome, erected in the High Gothic period, but whose inside was rebuilt by Giulio Romano in 1545; the Bishop's Palace, erected by the Marquises Bianchi between 1776 and 1876; Palazzo Bonacolsi, dating back to 1281; Palazzo Castiglioni; Torre della Gabbia (cage tower), built at the beginning of the XIV century.
Through St. Peter's Gate (voltone di San Pietro), built by Giovan Battista Bertani on a Medieval structure in the XVI century, visitors can take Via Accademia on the left and reach Teatro Bibiena, a small Baroque jewel conceived for concerts and scientific meetings. A few days after its inauguration in 1769, the theatre hosted a concert by 14-year old Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.
Going back, and resuming the itinerary as indicated on the map, visitors reach piazza Broletto, where the most important buildings of the Medieval communes period are situated: Arengario, Palazzo del Massaro and Palazzo del Podestà, which were built in 1227 and are now undergoing important restoration works. A thirteenth-century statue of a teaching Virgil is placed on the façade of Palazzo del Podestà.
After Palazzo del Podestà the itinerary leads to Piazza delle Erbe, named after the vegetable market, which took place here since the Middle Age.
The buildings that line the square are Palazzo della Ragione (XIX century), dedicated to the administration of justice; Torre dell'Orologio (Clock Tower), which owes its name to the 1472 clock by astronomer Bartolomeo Manfredi placed on its façade (the clockwork is still visible); the Romanesque Rotonda di San Lorenzo, the city's most ancient church; Casa del Mercante, built in 1455 and featuring cotto ornaments in oriental and Gothic style, inspired by Venetian dwellings.
The following stage leads to piazza Mantegna, where the majestic Basilica di Sant'Andrea rises up. This church was an ancient Benedictine monastery (only the Gothic staple and one side of the courtyard remain from the original building), which was restructured in 1472 after the designs of Leon Battista Alberti. The Basilica enshrines the Holy Vases, which, according to the tradition, contain the blood of Christ.
Going on towards Palazzo Te visitors cross piazza Marconi, a triangular space lined by Renaissance porticos. Above the portico on the right - when coming from Basilica di Sant'Andrea - some frescoes ascribed to Andrea Mantegna and his school are visible on the façade of House Viani Tallarico.
Via Roma then leads to the Rio, an artificial canal designed by Alberto Pitentino, where Giulio Romano's Pescherie (fish markets) were built in 1536 for fish trading. They feature a double portico with bossage round arches and small windows on the upper portion.
The stroll continues along Via Principe Amedeo and via Acerbi, passing the house of Mantegna, which was probably designed by Mantegna himself, and Tempio di San Sebastiano, built around 1460 by Leon Battista Alberti and turned into a memorial chapel for fallen war veterans in 1925.
A little further, in Largo XXIV Maggio, Palazzo San Sebastiano hosts the City Museum. The palace was the last urban mansion built by the Gonzaga family between 1506 and 1508. This is the southern edge of the Gonzaga city: a canal once flowed (and was subsequently buried) where today's Viale della Repubblica and Viale Risorgimento run. Further south there was Lago del Paiolo, a lake that was drained at the end of the XVIII century. In the middle of the lake, on the island of Tejeto, Giulio Romano built and decorated the suburban villa of Palazzo Te, between 1525 and 1535.

The itinerary goes from Palazzo Te to piazza Sordello following this route:

  • Viale Te (from the entrance of Palazzo Te to viale Montegrappa)
  • piazzale Vittorio Veneto
  • Comparto palazzo San Sebastiano (largo XXIV Maggio - viale Risorgimento - via Gioppi)
  • Comparto Tempio di San Sebastiano (Largo XXIV Maggio - via Acerbi)
  • Via Acerbi (including side roads, via Grioli and vicolo dell'Angelo)
  • Crossing via Poma - via G. Romano - via Acerbi - via P. Amedeo
  • Via P. Amedeo (including side roads)
  • Piazza Martiri di Belfiore
  • Via Roma
  • Piazza Marconi
  • Piazza Mantegna
  • Piazza Erbe
  • Via Broletto
  • Piazza Sordello
More info
Architectural features
Architectural features
Architectural features
Architectural features
Architectural features
Architectural features
Architectural features
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