Mantua, the city of the Gonzagas
Though less well-known than Venice or Florence, Mantua, a charming city situated in Northern Italy on the banks of the River Mincio, is packed with art treasures. Governed by the Gonzaga family for four centuries, from circa 1300 to 1700, this Lombard city experienced its maximum period of splendour during the Renaissance, when its most famous masterpieces were executed. A renowned patron of the arts, Isabella d’Este, the Marchesa of Mantua and the wife of Federico Gonzaga, summoned artists like Titian, Perugino, Leonardo da Vinci and Correggio to her court. Inspired by his mother’s passion for collecting art, Federico II invited Raphael’s pupil Giulio Romano to come to Mantua to build Palazzo Te, a dazzling example of 16th-century classicism. Even the layout of the city itself with its squares and palaces is truly delightful.
From above: the breathtaking illusionism of the painted vault of the Bridal Chamber, frescoed by Andrea Mantegna in 1474. Pictured above, a view of Mantua nestled on the banks of the Mincio River.