Mantova – Places of Culture (Orange Path)

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Mantova map

This itinerary focuses on sites of culture, prevalently housed in 17th and 18th century buildings.

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The itinerary can start from via Ardigo’, which can be reached from Piazza Broletto passing through the Arengario arch.

Along the street one sees the facade of the former Church of the Holy Trinity. The Church was built in 1587 for the Jesuits, but the facade was altered over the course of the 19th century. In the main chapel three large canvases were once on display, painted at the beginning of the 17th century by Peter Paul Rubens: the Baptism of Christ and the Transfiguration of Our Lord, stolen at the end of the 18th century by the French soldiers. They are now in the museums of Antwerp and Nancy, while the Gonzaga Family in Adoration of the Holy Trinity is still in Mantua and hangs in the Ducal Palace.

Mantova Centro
Downtown Mantova

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Walking along via Ardigo’ one reaches Piazza Dante on which stand the Palazzo degli Studi (entrance from the City Library) and the Virgilian Academy.

The Palazzo degli Studi was property of the Jesuits and housed the University when Bolognese architect Alfonso Torreggiani rebuilt the facade according to neo-classical canons between 1753 and 1763. In 1780, thanks to Empress Maria Theresa of Austria, the Public Library was opened; for this reason it is called “Teresiana“.

Continuing to the left, in via Accademia, one can admire the main facade of the Virgilian Academy, of medieval origin; formerly it was the seat of the Renaissance literary academies, the Accademia degli Invaghiti and Accademia degli Invitti (subsequently called dei Timidi). These academies were replaced, over the course of the 18th century, by the Royal Academy of Science Literature and Arts, according to the wishes of Maria Theresa of Austria; the building itself was completely renovated as well.

As a first intervention, the old Renaissance theatre inside was demolished and replaced by a new theatre – the Bibiena Theatre. Emilian architect Antonio Galli Bibiena was entrusted with this commission, which was completed in December 1769. In 1772, rebuilding of the Palazzo Accademico was instead entrusted to neo-classical architect Giuseppe Piermarini, while Paolo Pozzo directed the building works, also designing the elegant room upstairs, the so called Piermarini Room; here three portraits, painted in Vienna by Hubert Mauer in 1770 are on display: one of Maria Theresa, one of her husband Francis of Lorraine and one of her son Joseph II.

17] The itinerary goes on to the right, along via Pomponazzo with the Finance building; formerly a monastery for the Carmelite order, it was restored in 1787 by architect Paolo Pozzo: the facade was altered according to neo-classical canons and two 16th century portals were added.

Opposite lies what was the Jewish citadel, within which, in 1612, the Jews living in town were confined.

18] Interesting evidence of the Ghetto is the Rabbi’s House, in via Bertani, built in the second half of the 17th century. On the facade, between the windows of the ground and first floor, are interesting stucco reliefs representing town views.

17] Returning to via Pomponazzo, one can see at number 23 the imposing Palazzo Sordi, built in 1680 according to the wishes of Marchese Benedetto Sordi by the Flemish architect Franz Geffels. On the right-hand side corner of the rusticated facade is a bust portraying the Marchese and an inscription bearing the name of the architect and the date. The entrance portal is topped by a balcony which is in turn crowned by a semicircular pediment including a high-relief image of a Madonna with Child.

Just a little ahead, opposite the palace, is the Church of San Martino, of medieval origin but radically rebuilt in 1773. On the entrance, a fine high relief represents St. Martin on horseback and the beggar.

Once across the Rio, at number 8 in via Trieste, is Gian Battista Bertani’s House, designed and built by the architect himself in the 16th century. Altered over the course of the last century, its facade still has two original Ionic columns either side of the entrance.

19] Going back and turning to the right, along via Corridoni, stands the Church of Santa Maria della Carita’, of ancient origin but completely rebuilt in 1613; the interior is decorated with stuccoes of the mid 17th century; the small church square contains classical relief work and memorial stones found in the Mantuan area. Inside, is a series of paintings by Giuseppe Bazzani.

Where to stay in Mantua

There are hotels, apartments, B&Bs and guesthouses available, check it out and make a reservation here.