Mantua lies in the Po valley, on Mincio right riverbank. You may still visit Romanesque buildings (such as San Lorenzo rotunda), Gothic churches (such as Santa Maria del Gradaro and San Francesco), Gothic civil buildings (such as Broletto and Palazzo della Ragione), important XV century structures (such as San Sebastiano and Sant'Andrea churches or Andrea Mantegna's house - maybe designed by Mantegna himself). During XVI century, Giulio Romano renovated the city layout, operated in Palazzo Ducale, renovated the cathedral, and built Palazzo Te. Still, you can visit the Virgilian academy building, which includes Bibiena theatre (1769).
Local economy is based on industry, trading, tourism and, above all, agriculture.
Casalromano lies on Chiese right riverbank. You may visit Baroque San Giovanni Evangelista church (1754)
Mariana Mantovana lies north-east of Chiese and Oglio rivers confluence.
Local economy is based on agriculture and stock breeding.
Marcaria lies in Basso Mantovano. You can see XVIII century San Giovanni Battista parish church (retaining a canvas by Gian Domenico Cignaroli).
Local economy is based on agriculture, pig and cattle farming, and industry.
Acquanegra sul Chiese
Acquanegra is a small municipality near Canneto sull'Oglio; Oglio and Chiese rivers cross its territory. A plaque in S. Tommaso abbey, reminding that centurion Marcus Cassius built a temple to Isis, bears sign that Acquanegra already existed in II century BC. Because of its position, near cities often contended for it during the middle ages; it was ruled by Venice, Gonzaga family, Napoleon, and finally the Austrians.
Today, it is a part of South Oglio river natural park.
Castelbelforte lies north-east of Mantua.
Its name, till 1867, was “Due Castelli” - id est, Two Castles -, because of two fortresses, whose names were “Castrum Belforte” and “Castrum Bonefitio”, standing on Essere canal banks, and torn down in 1717.
San Biagio parish church, which has a neo-classical façade, hosts a painting by Lorenzo Costa il Vecchio (XV century).
In XVIII century cadastral maps, the village is made of two hamlets: Castelbonafisso (today, Forte San Paolo) and Castelbelforte (today, the village centre). Essere canal was the border between the hamlets, as it was before the border between Mantua and Verona territories. In XVIII century, there were also two parishes: San Paolo, which is today a civil building, and San Biagio, which is today the only parish.
Today's church, inaugurated in 1857, hosts XVIII century paintings and XX century frescoes.
Still, you may visit the ancient Parolara church, reconstructed in XVIII century, the XVI century Cort'Alta church, and San Giorgio in Cortingolfo church, where the Capuchins lived.
Some archaeological finds show that the Etruscans already lived here in 1000 b.C.; then the Gauls arrived and, in 189 b.C., it was up to the Romans. But the village grew only between the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, when the Gonzaga family made it an important fortress, because of its strategical position.
Castiglione delle Stiviere
“Castrum ab estivis” (this is its Latin name) was founded by the Etruscans; during the Middle Ages, it underwent the Longobardic domination (568 - 774 d.C.). Later, Mantua, Milan and Verona disputed for it because of its strategical position, till marquis Ferrante Gonzaga made it an autonomous princedom in 1478; then it had its own court, government building and mint. During that period, they built its Renaissance centre. Castiglione is world known for being Saint Aloysius Gonzaga's home town; he was born here in 1568, canonized in 1726, and today he is the world patron of young people and of the Red Cross – which was devised just here by Henry Dunant in 1859, as a consequence of Solferino and San Martino battle.
Marmirolo lies north of Mantua. You can visit Santi Filippo and Giacomo parish church (1712).
In the heart of Bosco Fontana, you can see a Gonzaga family hunting manor house, designed by G. Dattari (1592) and completed by A.M. Viani.
Cavriana is a nice village in the heart of the morainal hills. Its name comes from goats farming – goat is capra in Italian. Still today, they celebrate a Golden goat prize on July second Sunday, dressing Renaissance clothes. You may visit the tower of an ancient castle, where you can see lake Garda from, and the archaeological museum – hosted in XVIII century Villa Mirra. Still, you should not miss the Romanesque parish.
A village between Mantua and Ferrara provinces, which lays on Po riverbank among colourful fields. Still, you can admire its artistic and natural spots.
You should not miss the late Romanesque parish church, which bears sign of the ancient Santa Maria Assunta abbey and monastery, built by San Benedetto in Polirone Benedictines.
Recent restorations allows to see again that ancient one nave structure and its small presbytery and art pieces.
Tirot – which is a kind of bread flavoured with onions - festival (first August weekend)
Gazzuolo lies on Oglio right riverbank. A XVI century porch runs along the main street; it was restored in 1933. You may also visit XVIII century Santa Maria della Carità parish church.
Goito lies on Mincio right riverbank, in Alto Mantovano. You can see the medieval tower, the Madonna della Salute basilica (1729) – hosting a canvas by Giuseppe Bazzani and sculptures by Giuseppe Menozzi -, and neo-classic Villa Moschini (by Giovan Battista Marconi and Giuseppe Crevola).
They think that name Magnacavallo might come from Latin magna cava vallis – id est big pit valley – or from the rich family name Magna-Cavalli.
St. Pietro and Paolo Romanesque church was renovated more than once; recently they added also two lateral naves. In 1723 they built its bell tower, which was restored in 1947, after being damaged during II World War.
Magnacavallo is considered Mantuan emigration capital: every year emigrants descendants come here to visit the monument to emigrants (2000) and the emigrant festival (on first September Sunday), where they can see original pictures and objects.
In Dosso dell’Inferno (3 km far from here), there is a beautiful late XVI century Gonzaga's summer residence. Inside it, Jesuits built Santa Caterina oratory.
In Magnacavallo restaurants you can taste the typical tortelli sguazzarotti, which are stuffed with pumpkin, must, sweet sauce, beans and chestnuts.
St. Pietro and Paolo festival (first June week) – October festival (first October week) – Emigrant festival, in September .
This in an important industrial centre, which is world known for stockings. It lies 37 km north-west of Mantua, left of Chiese river, on the southern slope of the morainal hills. It was inhabited since the Bronze Age. In 1337, Castel Goffredo chose to undergo Gonzaga seigniory, and in 1520 it became the little capital city of marquis Luigi Gonzaga. Piazza Matteotti is the heart of the Renaissance town centre. After World War II, it became the most important stocking producer in the world. Castel Goffredo is also known because of its bitter tortelli, a kind of pasta stuffed with bitter herbs.
Monzambano lies on the morainal hills, 90 m above the sea level, on Mincio right riverbank. They think its name likely means “inflamed mountain"; its coat of arms seems to bear this hypothesis out.
Coming from Peschiera del Garda towards Mantua, Monzambano appears as a medieval village around its ancient castle, in a really evocative atmosphere. The castle was built by Veronesi in XII century, while XIV century Castellaro Lagusello walled village – just 4 km away – is considered among the 100 most beautiful villages of Italy.
Still, its territory is covered with vineyards, olive groves and lake vegetation all along Mincio riverbanks.
Guidizzolo lies 88 m above the sea level, just south of the morainal hills; it is on the boundary between Mantua and Brescia provinces. Its position was of great strategic importance during the centuries, as many medieval documents attest.
Still, Guidizzolo was involved in Solferino and San Martino battle, 1859.
Just outside the village, you can visit the elegant S.Lorenzo oratory, hosting a recently restored XV century fresco
Ostiglia lays on Po northern riverbank. It was founded by Romans in II century B.C..
You can see the XVII century local government building, and its nice façade with small columns and tympanums. It is going to host also a pharmacopoeia museum.
Palazzo Foglia, in the main square, was built in 1833; it hosts the archaeological museum with finds from V-IV millennium B.C. to XIX century; also Fondo Musicale Greggiati – id est Greggiati ancient music sheet collection - is pretty interesting.
Still, you can visit the XII century castle remains, the Veronese medieval towers (1152-1297), Santa Maria in Castello church, which was build in 1152 and bombed in 1944.
XIX century Santa Maria Assunta church has a nice Palladian style floor with 3 mosaic parts.
In Comuna, you may admire the magnificent XIV century Beata Vergine shrine, which was later renovated by Giulio Romano.
You should not miss 37 hectare wide Isola Boschina nature reserve (along Po river), nor 123 hectare wide Ostiglia marshes, which hosts 175 kinds of birds and several cane thickets.
Vieni, vedi e gusta, which is a food festival, (second February week) – Mille Miglia storica, which is an endurance car race, (second and third May weeks) - Millefuochi sul Po, id est fireworks along Po river, (May and June Fridays) - San Lorenzo festival (second August week) - Expo Vino novello, id est young wine expo, (first November weekend)
Gazoldo degli ippoliti
Gazoldo lies between Oglio and Mincio rivers, 20 km away from the morainal hills in Alto Mantovano, and 20 km away from Mantua; Gazoldo is a small village, which was founded in very ancient times. The famous Roman route via Postumia, built in 148 BC on the orders of consul Postumius Albinus in what is now the Po valley to run from Genoa to Aquileia, crosses it north-south. As Gazoldo name sounds like being of German origin, they think Longobards may have lived here from Roman to Medieval ages. During XIV century, the Commune underwent Ippoliti family seigniory; this family descended from an XI century Roman noble man. In 1590, they built a mint, which made Gazoldo internationally famous.
Gazoldo hosts two important museums: the Modern Art Museum (MAM), founded in 1980 in XVI century Villa Ippoliti, and the Wax Museum, hosting over 100 statues of historical figures.
Just outside the village, towards Redondesco, you can see the XVII century court house.
Bigarello lays on Mincio east riverbank. Its name likely comes from Latin “biga”, the Roman two-horsed chariot; actually, they recently found Roman finds in the area, such as houses, utensils and bronze amulets. Still, Bigarello is mentioned in a XI century document and was ruled by Gonzaga family from 1360 to 1707. In 1796, French troops pillaged it.
Today, it includes 4 villages: Stradella, Gazzo, Bazza and Bigarello. It is a 26,96 square Km wide municipality, and it has 1700 inhabitants. Several interesting churches stand in its territory. In Stradella, you can visit XV century Nativity of Our Lady church, which hosts XV century frescoes, XVIII century canvases (two by Felice Campi), and a XV century terracotta Pietà.
XVII century "Pila dal Galiòt" hosted engines of empress Maria Theresa of Austria to husk rice. In Bazza, you can see "Il Palazzo", a nice rural residence with XVI century frescoes; still, you may visit XVIII century S. Antonio Abate church. In Bigarello, you can see S.S. Giovanni e Paolo church and the house where the Blessed Osanna Andreasi lived from 1485 to 1492, with her brother Antonio, vicar of marquis Gonzaga. Still, you should not miss the mill of Tristano Martinelli (1556 – 1631) the famous Mantuan Harlequin who got rich and honoured in Germany and France.
This rural village is known because of the Corradi family, who came from here and ruled Mantua after changing their name to Gonzaga.
You can admire its beautiful porched square and the two XV century towers, which are the only remains of the ancient castle.
Gonzaga hosts since IX century Fiera Millenaria – id est the millenary festival -, a very important national agricultural festival.
San Benedetto parish church, which is decked with interesting paintings, was built in XI century.
Fiera Millenaria (second September week) – Palidano festival, August – Crucifix festival (second May week)
Medole is a small village lying just south of the morainal hills, between Castiglione delle Stiviere and Castel Goffredo. Medole name likely comes from "medolo", id est a gravel pit which was once north of the village itself.
Medole was a part of Mantua duchy, then of Castiglione marquisate (from 1602 to early XVIII century), and finally of the Hapsburg empire. The famous Solferino and San Martino battle, 24 June 1859, started here: the battle of Medole lasted 15 hours and killed 15.000 people.
The parish church retains a precious canvas by Titian.
They think this name comes from Montechiana (id est hillock) and was related since XVI century to a Gonzaga's palace, which looked like a hill in comparison with the village houses.
This building and the Romanesque church and bell tower are Motteggiana jewels.
Its territory runs along Po southern riverbank for 15 km, with a really beautiful country landscape.
You can see big former aristocratic farms, such as corti Quaranta and Nogarola di Torricella or Tedolda di Villa Saviola, and former monastic ones, such as corte Gonfo; still, you can visit former bourgeois ones, such as corte Fabbrica, which is now a farm accommodation.
Motteggiana is growing fast these days, not only concerning economy and population, but also concerning culture and services.
Fiera Millenaria di S. Carlo - id est San Carlo millenary festival – (second July week)
Moglia lays along Po river. Its territory is made of water and land, nature and country.
This is why Museo Lineare delle Bonifiche - id est the drainage museum – is so interesting. It is a kind of outdoor museum, including a cycle track, where you can appreciate idyllic nature and country spots. Still, you can see, in the museum building, documents, pictures, maps and projects about Moglia drainages. Outside, you can chose among 4 itineraries, each with picnic and camper facilities.
You should also pay a visit to Villa Galvagnina, a XVI century frescoed palace, and early XX century Teatro Italia.
Moglia festival (fourth July Sunday) - Bondanello festival (second October Sunday) - Festival teatrale dei dialetti della Bassa (id est a dialect theatre festival) during spring – Canals festival (May-June) - Motori e sapori a Bondanello (id est Bondanello car and taste festival) (first June Sunday)
Casalmoro lays left of Chiese river, north of Asola. You may see Santo Stefano Protomartire parish church – built in 1728 -, with its Baroque façade: it hosts a canvas by Luigi Sicurtà.
Bagnolo San Vito
South-east of Mantua, not far from Po northern riverbank. XVII century San Giovanni Battista parish church, later renovated. Economy based on stock-breeding and agriculture.
Bagnolo comes from Latin balneum = marsh, because of this land origin. Here is what to see when going to Bagnolo (14 Km far from Mantua):
- Forcello archaeological park: it is where a VI century B.C. Etruscan village once stood.
Forcello was an important trade centre between Greece and Central Europe; its variegated and rich archaeological finds bear witness of it.
Visitors can try 4 different workshops: Being an archaeologist, Weaves from the past, The potter art, Dining with the Etruscans.
- Travata draining plant: it was built in 1924-1928, along Mincio river. It can drain and irrigate 10.000 hectares land.
- Villa Riva Berni: about 1 Km far from South Mantua tollboth, towards San Giacomo Po. It is a XVII century building with two grand staircases to entry. The façade upper part is decked with terracotta bas-relieves depicting Mantuan spots.
- Museo della Civiltà Contadina – id est the rural civilization museum -: a collection of ancient farm implements and carts. The collection is organized by sections: working, studying, playing, leisure.
In Correggio the Casa dei Concari Palazzo Buris will be soon visible near the XVII c. Bertazzolo hydraulic artefact .
Events: San Vito festival (in June) - AVIS festival (in July) – Angel festival (in September)
Casaloldo lies on Chiese left riverbank. Its economy is based on agriculture, stock-breeding, textile and engineering craft.
Canneto lays on left Oglio riverbank, on the western edge of Mantua province. You may visit the medieval tower – the only remain of San Genesio castle -, and XIV century Sant'Antonio Abate parish church – renovated in XVIII century -, which hosts a XV century Lombard wooden sculpture.
Carbonara Po was founded by Romans (II century B.C.), but appears in documents only since the Middle Ages.
You should pay a visit to XVI century Assunta parish church, which hosts an altar piece by Ippolito Andreasi depicting the Assumption of the Virgin Mary. There are other interesting early XX century buildings, such as liberty style Villa Mila and monumental Villa Bisighini, which hosts today the local government offices.
In Carbonarola, you can see XV century Corte Dalla Valle by architect Luca Fancelli, which is connected with Carbonarola church; the church is dedicated to the Blessed Osanna Andreasi, who was a relative of Gonzaga family. Just at the entrance you can admire a canvas by Lorenzo Costa the Elder – who succeeded Mantegna in Mantua court – depicting the Blessed Osanna
Near Carbonara Po, you can visit Isola Boscone nature reserve, with its 64 hectares wood: it has a rich vegetation and hosts several rare birds.
Assumption Day festival – Truffle festival (last November weekend)
Castel d'Ario lies north-east of Mincio river, and borders on Bigarello, Roncoferraro, Villimpenta and Sorgà (which lies in Verona territory). It lies about 10 km from Mantova Nord toll gate (highway A22), about 30 Km from Verona and 60 km from Lake Garda.
Following the national road 10 from Mantua towards Padua, you can get to Castel d’Ario between canals and poplar lines.
Its three symbols are the castle, the “Bigolada”, and the legendary driver Tazio Nuvolari. But you can not forget about its fourth one: “risotto alla Pilota”, a wonderful risotto with pork sausage.
Four symbols for a 5,000 inhabitants village.
The castle stands north of the centre, behind Molinella canal (dug during the Hapsburg's domination). Its walls draw a pentagonal perimeter, with a tower at each corner. Inside, between the entry tower and the north tower, the Praetorium stands.
In 1082, Emperor Henry IV gave it as a fiefdom to Trent's bishop. Then it passed within the jurisdiction of Bonacolsi, Della Scala, Gonzaga and, finally, Napoleon. From 1814 to 1866, it became a part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire; in 1867, it passed to the Kingdom of Italy. The most famous castle tower is called the Hunger Tower; it is the only one still preserving a part of the original embattlement. In 1851, they found there 7 skeletons, one of which enchained. They supposed they could be Francesco Pico della Mirandola and his two sons, who were imprisoned by Passerino Bonacolsi, and four Bonacolsi imprisoned later.
As Castel d’Ario lies in an area rich of water, rice is a typical produce; especially Vialone Nano rice. By the way, today more profitable cultivations are taking its place.
They used to transport rice on boat from rice fields to rice mills (Pile, in local dialect), which workers (Piloti, in local dialect) used to cook it in a special way, together with browned onions: hence the name “risotto alla pilota”, which is served today also with pork sausage. On the other hand, Castel d’Ario hosted several restaurants already during the Gonzaga ages, as it was on an important road from Mantua to Verona. Today, 14 typical restaurants offer their specialities in Castel d'Ario.
The legendary driver and motorbike champion Tazio Nuvolari, as known as “il mantovano volante” - id est, the flying Mantuan -, or Nivola – id est, Cloud, in local dialect – was born in Castel d'Ario in 1892. Lord Howe once said about him: “The world will remember Nuvolari as long as it will talk about motorbike and car races”.
Dosolo lies south-west of Mantua. Paolo Soratini built Santi Gervasio and Protasio parish church and its neo-Gothic bell tower in 1731-1741; inside, you may admire some XV century frescoes and canvases by Marcantonio Ghislina and Giuseppe Bazzani.
Borgofranco sul Po
Borgofranco sul Po is famous for white truffles (Tuber magnatum pico).
You can taste them in many typical restaurants and local delicatessen.
You should visit San Giovanni Battista neoclassical parish church, just down Po riverbank; not far from there, you can also see a plaque to Italian soldiers dead in Russia.
In Bonizzo, there is one of the last Po mills; today it contains farm instruments and Roman and medieval archaeological finds. Still, it hosts the Museo del Tartufo (TRU.MU) – id est the truffle museum.
Camper tourists will find camper facilities. Still, you can enjoy picnic facilities and children playgrounds. You can also rent a bike and ride along the beautiful Po riverbank cycle track.
Borgofranco sul Po Truffle festival (on first September sunday) - Bonizzo Truffle festival (on second October sunday).