Mantova – From the historic center to Palazzo Te: the Prince’s Path (Green Path)

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Itinerary map

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The second itinerary starts from Piazza Marconi, surrounded by Renaissance porticos on two sides. Here, Casa Lanzini can be seen, a typical Renaissance merchant’s house, built around 1460. Its facade has framed terracotta windows and it is crowned by merlons.

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The porticos continue along Corso Umberto I to Piazza Cavallotti, where the Teatro Sociale stands. The building is inspired by Neo-classical opera theatres; it was built between 1818 and 1822 by architect Luigi Canonica. The imposing facade is preceded by a pronaos with a triangular pediment supported by six Ionic columns on a tall podium; the auditorium has five orders and still some elegant decorations.

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Turning to the left and walking along Corso della Liberta’, one reaches piazza Martiri della Liberta, and then to the right, via Chiassi, flanked by ancient buildings.

Worthy of mention: at number 17, a palace with a 16th century tondo depicting a Madonna with Child; at number 20, the 16th century Aldegatti Palace has a beautiful marble portal; ahead, the Church of San Maurizio, designed by Cremonese Anton Maria Viani at the beginning of the 17th century; it is a single nave church with an elliptical dome; at number 42 the palace of the Conti Cantoni Marca, crowned by 15th century merlons; at number 59, a 16th century building with a marble portal and at number 61, the palace owned by Marchesi Nerli Ballati, dating back to the end of the 17th century.

San Barnaba
San Barnaba

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In piazza Bazzani, at the crossroads with via Poma rises the Church of San Barnaba. The present building is an 18th century reconstruction of a pre-existing structure documented since 1268. The interior, with only one nave, deep apse and three chapels on both sides, has elegant stuccowork framing the 18th century canvases painted by local artists.

Turning left, in via Poma at number 18 stands Giulio Romano’s House, where the artist lived in his last years. He purchased the building in 1538 from the heirs of Ippolito degli Ippoliti, who had built it at the beginning of the 16th century. Starting from 1540, the house was altered by Giulio Romano himself. He completely rebuilt the facade, using plaster, stucco and terracotta, on a rusticated base; on the ground floor, small windows were opened; the arched portal is crowned by a niche holding a statue of Mercury; on the upper floor the windows are topped by triangular pediments and inserted in a series of round arches decorated with masks; in the upper cornice festoons are interlaced with ram horns, alternated by circular windows. Inside, in the great hall, Giulio Romano himself painted a fresco decoration depicting Olympian divinities and mythological characters.

Opposite the house is the Court of Justice, built at the beginning of the 17th century by the Gonzaga di Vescovato family, a cadet branch. It was designed by Anton Maria Viani. The unusual facade has twelve giant figures supporting the capitals of the architrave.

San Sebastiano Crypt
Crypt of San Sebastiano

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At the end of via Poma, to the left, one reaches via Principe Amedeo, along which is what is now seat of the Provincial Administration, built for the Marchesi Guidi di Bagno and characterised by an imposing facade dated 1857, and at number 29, a late 16th century building with a marble portal; to the right starts via Acerbi along which is Mantegna’s House and the Tempio di San Sebastiano

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Building began on Mantegna’a house in 1476, but in 1494 it was not yet completed. It was not until 1496 that the artist could live in it, four years before selling it off to Marchese Francesco II Gonzaga. It is a cubic volume, each side measuring 25 meters, and it has three stories crowned by a cornice. The famous internal courtyard is a circle of 11 meters in diameter.

Opposite, in Largo XXIV Maggio, rises the Tempio di San Sebastiano, designed by Leon Battista Alberti.
Just a little ahead, at the crossroad with viale Risorgimento, is Palazzo di San Sebastiano. Recently restored, it is the seat of the historic section of the City Museum.

Palazzo Te
Palazzo Te

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Once across viale Risorgimento, where the ancient Porta Posterla was, one finally reaches the so-called Te area, which once was an island to the south of the town.

It was separated by a canal and surrounded by a lake which was filled in around the end of the 18th century. On this land the Gonzaga commissioned Giulio Romano to build his masterpiece of 16th century art, Palazzo Te.

Where to stay in Mantua

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