Mantova – From Porta Pradella to Porta Mulina (Brown Path)

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Starting from Piazza Cavalotti, walking along corso Vittorio Emanuele II and going to the right, on the corner with via Bonomi, one can visit the Church of S.Orsola, built in 1608 from a design by Anton Maria Viani. The church, interesting for its octagonal plan, was formerly joined to a monastery which was demolished in 1930.
Ahead, almost at the end of the road, stands the Church of Ognissanti (All Saints), of medieval origin, rebuilt in 1752. Inside, are late 16th century paintings by Ippolito Andreasi and Teodoro Ghisi, together with paintings by Giuseppe Bazzani; in the chapel of the Dead, 14th century frescoes are still visible together with a noteworthy Madonna and Saints by Nicolo’ da Verona and dating to the mid 15th century.
At the end of the same street one reaches the Porta Pradella, where the old gate that marked the western boundary of town once stood.

San Francesco Mantova
San Francesco – Photo © leciram

Turning to the right and crossing Piazza Don Leoni, where the railway station is now, proceeding then along via Solferino e San Martino, one comes to via Scarsellini, where the Church of San Francesco stands. It was built between the end of the 13th and the beginning of the 14th century on the site of an oratory founded by the Franciscan friar Benvenuto, a companion of Saint Francis, to whom the church is dedicated.
On the facade, the portal is surmounted by a rose window and flanked by two finely decorated terracotta windows. Inside, two aisles are separated from the central nave by brickwork pillars and flanked by several chapels; the best known is the Gonzaga chapel at the end of the nave, where once the tombs of the first rulers of the family lay and where impressive traces of the original 14th century decoration are still visible.

The itinerary proceeds to Piazza d’Arco, dominated by the Palace owned by the Conti d’Arco, today seat of the Fondazione d’Arco. It was built during the 1780s by architect Antonio Colonna, assisted by Paolo Pozzo.

Walking along via Fernelli, at the crossroads with via Monteverdi, at number 1, is the deconsecrated Church of Santa Maria della Vittoria, at present under restoration.

Just behind, in via Arrivabene, worthy of mention is, at number 18, palazzo Arrigoni. Built in the Renaissance period and attributed to Luca Fancelli, it was acquired in the 17th century by the Marchesi Arrigoni.

In nearby via Fratelli Bandiera one can admire, at number 32, palazzo Ippoliti di Gazoldo of the first half of the 18th century and, at number 18, palazzo Arrivabene built from 1481 on, as written in an inscription at the base of the corner tower, by Luca Fancelli.

Piazza Canossa Mantova
Piazza Matilde di Canossa – Photo © memedesimo2006

At this point, one comes to Piazza Matilde di Canossa and the Canossa Palace, from the name of the family that undertook the construction of this building around the mid 17th century. On the rusticated facade, the layout of windows and cornices is reminiscent of Giulio Romano’s style; on the ground floor the windows are topped by broken tympana bearing the family coat of arms; the entrance portal is flanked by two marble columns supporting the balcony; under the columns two sculptures of the heraldic dogs of the Canossa stand.
Inside, an impressive staircase leads to the upper floor where one large hall is divided into two levels: the first flight of stairs is, again, guarded by the Canossa’s dogs; the other two parallel flights, set at right angles with the first one, are unusual for the statues on the balustrade.
Opposite the palace, is the Church of Santa Maria del Terremoto built in 1759 in memory of the site where the Virgin is said to have appeared during the earthquake of 1693.

The itinerary proceeds towards via Trento, where, at number 16, rises the 18th century Palazzo Cavriani, designed by the architect Alfonso Torreggiani for the Mantuan Marchesi Cavriani. Opposite, is a neo-classical garden with a statue of Virgil in the center and busts of illustrious Mantuans set on top of the pillars of the gate, created after 1826.

Photo © Paolo Conso

At the end of the street, one sees the Church of SS. Gervasio e Protasio with its 19th century facade designed by Gian Battista Vergani. The bell tower dates back to the 12th century.
In the area near Porta Mulina worthy of mention is the Church of San Leonardo, standing on the square of the same name. It was founded in the 12th century and was rebuilt at the end of the 18th century.

Proceeding towards Verona, after crossing Ponte dei Mulini, one reaches Cittadella. Here stands the imposing defensive structure of Porta Giulia, built from 1530 on, by order of Federico II Gonzaga. Its design is attributed to Giulio Romano. Built using the Doric order, it is unusual for the large internal space structured as a classical style hall.

To the left is a garden leading to the Monument to Andreas Hofer, who sought independence for the Tyrol and who was shot on this spot by Napoleon’s soldiers.

Where to stay in Mantua

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