Mantua, Italy Travel Guide and Essentials

Mantua, Italy at twilight
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Mantua, or Mantova, is a beautiful, historic city in northern Italy surrounded on three sides by lakes. It was one of the greatest Renaissance Courts in Europe and home of the wealthy Gonzaga family. The town's center is three spacious and lively squares that join together. In 2008 Mantova became a World Heritage Site based on its Renaissance planning and architecture and is part of the UNESCO Quadrilateral, a district of historic cities in northeastern Italy.


Mantua is between Bologna and Parma in the Northern Italian region of Lombardy, not far from the Po River. It has an altitude of 19 meters, and its area is 63 square kilometers. By car, it is near the A22 autostrada. 

Tourist Office

Mantua's tourist office is near the church of Sant'Andrea in Piazza Mantegna 6, one of the 3 central piazzas.

Train and Bus Stations

The train station is in Piazza Don Leoni at the end of Via Solferino e S. Martino to the southwest of the town. It's about a 10-minute walk from the station to the center Mantua. The bus station is in Piazzale A Mondadori, near the train station.

Food Specialties

Pike in green sauce, luccio in salsa, is a specialty from Mantua. A special pasta from Mantua is tortelli di zucca, tortelli filled with pumpkin or squash, ground amaretti cookies, and mostarda. Since Mantua is in the rice-growing region, you will also find some excellent risotto dishes.


Check the map of Mantova to see the location of the city's top sights.

  • Palazzo Ducale, the home of the Gonzaga family from the late 13th to early 17th centuries, is a huge complex of buildings, courtyards, and gardens. There are over 500 rooms, the most famous being the Camera degli Sposi with frescoes from 1474 painted by Mantegna The Palazzo is closed Mondays and reservations are recommended). 
  • Palazzo Te, another Gonzaga palace created by Giulio Romano, also has beautiful frescoes, including a few erotic frescoes.
  • The Duomo, the Cathedral of San Pietro, was also decorated by Giulio Romana in 1545.
  • The Basilica di Sant'Andrea holds the tomb of the painter Andrea Mantegna. There is also a much-disputed relic—containers said to hold the blood of Christ.
  • The Rotonda of San Lorenzo, a circular 11th-century Rotonda, is believed to be on the site of a Roman temple to Venus.
  • Squares—Spend some time in the beautiful Piazza delle Erbe and Piazza Sordello, the center of Mantua. They are lined with cafes and several good restaurants.
  • Near Mantua: Grazie has one of the most unusual churches you may come across. The town of Grazie is by the water, and there's a dock with tourist boat excursions during summer and weekends in late spring.