Mantova & Cremona
The history of Mantova dates back to Etruscan times. The fertile land of the Po Valley, surrounded by three lakes, provided a good livelihood for the peasants. In the Middle Ages, the city flourished under the rule of the Gonzaga ducal family, who ruled the city from the 14th to the 17th centuries. The city was a center of the Renaissance with artists such as Andrea Mantegna. The buildings that characterize the impressive cityscape of Mantua today were created during this time.
Cremona is a city in Lombardy, on the left bank of the Po. It is easily accessible from Lake Garda. The city is particularly well-known for its violin-making families, the Amati, Bergonzi, Guarneri and Stradivari. The city with an immense cultural and historical heritage. Particularly attractive on Saturday mornings when the market is in full swing and the midday performance takes place in the violin museum. Beautiful squares, architecture, an enviable City Hall, a world-renowned Violin Museum and the magnificent Ponzone Civic Museum, located near the train station.
The Piazza del Comune in Cremona is a perfect spot for an aperitif. Grab a chair at a café that overlooks the square and enjoy some of the best architectural views in Italy.
1. Sights Mantova
For music lovers, the Bibiena Theater is recommended, an 18th-century gem where the young Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart stayed on his first trip to Italy in 1770. The theater is a little east of Piazza Sordello.
The small museum still has a complete facility, a picture gallery. Here is the hall where the Tyrolean patriot Andreas Hofer was sentenced to death. The museum is located a little west of Piazza Sordello.
Piazza delle Erbe
The market has always been held in the Piazze delle Erbe, characterized by the Palazzo della Ragione and the bell tower Torre dell'Orologio (1472). Here is also the Rotonda di San Lorenzo, the oldest church in Mantua, built in the 11th century. In the Rotonda you can admire, among other things, traces of frescoes from the Byzantine period. There is always something going on at the Piazza delle Erbe square. There are many different bars, cafes, restaurants and other shops in the colonnades. This makes it perfect for strolling and relaxing.
The Basilica of Sant'Andrea, also in Piazza delle Erbe, is the largest church in Mantua. Construction began in the 15th century but was not completed until around 300 years later. Inside there are precious relics and in one of the chapels the tomb of Andrea Mantegna, the Gonzaga court painter.
The Palazzo della Ragione (also known as: Broletto) located near the Piazza d'Erbe served formerly (comparable to an ancient Roman basilica) as the town hall, court of law and market hall.
The heart of the city is the Piazza Sordello with the cathedral on the north side and the Doge's Palace on the east side. The Doge's Palace (Palazzo Ducale) was the residence of the Gonzaga family. Palazzo Ducale is now a museum where you can admire the masterpieces of Pisanello, Andrea Mantegna, Raphael, Giulio Romano, Rubens. Inside the Doge's Palace is the "Camera degli Sposi", the room of the newlyweds, painted by Andrea Mantegna in the years 1465-1474. Mantua Castle, Castello di San Giorgio was commissioned by Francesco Gonzaga at the end of the 14th century to expand the Doge's Palace and develop it as a defensive castle. The Basilica of Santa Barbara, built in the 16th century, is located near the Palazzo Ducale. This was the Gonzaga court church and several members of the Gonzaga dynasty are buried here.
Link: https://www.mantovaducale.beniculturali.it/en/ - Information on the Palazzo Ducale, in English.
2. Sights Cremona
Cremona's main attractions are centered around the Piazza del Comune. See description below. If you like to walk, starting from the center of Cremona, in 35/40 minutes you can reach the Basilica of San Sigismondo, a splendid Renaissance building built by Bianca Maria Visconti.
Cloistered monastery Monastero di San Giuseppe in San Sigismondo Externally it has an extremely modest facade, with the exception of the 5 battlements, while the interior is fully and beautifully frescoed in Mannerist style. Here we find masterpieces by the Campi brothers, Camillo Boccaccino, Berardino Gatti and others. A mandatory stop for visitors to Cremona. Note: Since it is a closed monastery, certain parts of the building (e.g. Chiostro) can only be visited on special days.
At the Piazza del Comune there are: Duomo, Baptistery, Bell Tower, Loggia dei Militi and Palazzo Comunale.
Cremona Cathedral (Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta). It is the episcopal seat of the diocese of Cremona. The Romanesque church also has Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque elements. Together with the baptistery and the Torrazzo bell tower, it forms the main architectural unit of the city. Cremona's Duomo was built in the 12th century after Barbarossa had destroyed the old one and is dedicated to Santa Maria Assunta. Inside the three-aisled cathedral you will find great works of art and fresco paintings, including the story of Mary and Jesus in paintings by Boccaccino. The Duomo's position in the Piazza del Comune (Town Hall Square), the heart of the medieval city, reflects the close ties that existed between religious and political power at the time. It is no coincidence that the Duomo stands in the heart of Cremona's governmental district and on the same square as the town hall.
Torrazzo Bell Tower
It is also located in Piazza del Comune, next to the Duomo. The bell tower of Cremona Cathedral, 112 meters high, was completed in the 13th century, while the sphere and cross placed on top date back to the 17th century. On the other hand, the astronomical clock built into the torrazzo, which can display the movement of the stars and the phases of the moon, was installed in 1583. 487 steps lead up to the Torrazzo, where the visitor can take a look into the room with the astronomical clockwork. You will be rewarded with a magnificent panoramic view from above Cremona.
Octagonal in plan (Battistero di San Giovanni) is a religious building and stands next to the city's cathedral. It was built at the beginning of the 12th century and is characterized by an octagonal floor plan. Inside there is a 14th-century crucifix above the altar of St. John and two wooden statues depicting San Filippo Neri and St. John the Baptist by Giovanni Bertesi. Above the ceiling is a 12th-century statue of Archangel Gabriel.
Next to the Baptistery is the Loggia dei Militi (Loggia of the Soldiers). It is a historical building which was built in the 12th century. The coat of arms (gonfalone) of the city of Cremona is attached to the facade: four lions, each representing the four city gates. The Loggia was the seat of the meetings of the local Società dei Militi and consists of two rectangular rooms. Under the portico is the coat of arms of Cremona.
Palazzo Comunale. It is a beautiful 13th-century building. It houses interesting paintings and frescoes.
Link: https://www.cattedraledicremona.it/ - Information on Cathedral - Torrazzo and Battistero
Museo Civico Ala Ponzone
A real surprise, in the midst of the less frequented streets of the inner city there is a museum that is worth a visit. Works by Lombard painters (14th-18th centuries) whose paintings adorned the churches and buildings of Cremona. Particularly worth seeing are the paintings of San Francesco by Caravaggio and L'ortolano by Arcimboldi. There is also a collection of antique instruments and a chinoiserie section.
Archaeological Museum of San Lorenzo
The small but impressive archaeological museum is housed in the former church of San Lorenzo and displays finds of Roman art, mainly from the Casa del Ninfeo house in Piazza Marconi. There are exhibited: mosaics, wall paintings, objects from the church necropolis. The museum is well organized, with display boards explaining the exhibits in detail. It is also possible to watch a video that tells you the history of Roman Cremona. Worth a visit for lovers of Roman history.
3. The Violin-maker museum in Cremona
The Violin Museum (Museo del Violino) illustrates how closely Cremona is linked to violin making and at the same time has an important function in the city, as it also has an auditorium, i.e. a concert hall, and a research center. The tour of the violin museum takes the visitor through five centuries of the history of violin making in Cremona. He gets to know the great masters and their violins, including the famous Antonio Stradivari. Here you get a very good overview of the famous families of string instrument makers from Cremona. Here we also find: audio samples, videos of famous performers, representation of a violin maker's workshop The museum is an aesthetic delight. The violins and other stringed instruments are displayed in elegant showcases and the history of violin making is presented in an ingenious way. An absolute highlight are the performances in the auditorium. Here, beautiful examples are presented by performers on a Stradivarius. A truly incomparable musical experience. Link: https://www.museodelviolino.org/ - Museum Museo del Violino and Auditorium
4. Palazzo Te in Mantova
Palazzo Te - Federico Gonzaga decided in the 16th century to build a summer palace with the location of the count's stables outside the city walls of Mantua.The large suburban villa was built by Giulio Romano (a student of Raphael).The building has a square plan, with a central courtyard and a spacious rear garden ending in an exedra.Carvers and fresco painters were busy for ten years, until hardly a surface in the loggias and salons was undecorated.One can find frescoes by Benedetto Pagni and Rinaldo Mantovano, which are now the most notable sight of the palazzo.The themes range from an Olympic banquet in the Sala di Psyche to stylized horses in the Sala dei Cavalli to the Sala dei Giganti with its giants and grotesques, exuberantly wandering through the chaos on the walls.
Link: http://www.palazzote.it/ - Information about the beautiful Palazzo del Te.
Restaurants in Mantova:
Long family tradition, the building dates back to the 15th century, dignified and yet comfortable atmosphere. Perfect Italian classic home cooking. Cozy interior and friendly service. The dishes of the Cremonese cuisine are extremely tasty here. The Lombard restaurant is prominently located in the old town and impresses with its successful interior design. The staff is friendly and courteous, the food is of the best quality. A harmonious place, warm and helpful service, local food at reasonable prices.
Ristorante Il Cigno dei Martini
Long family tradition, the building dates back to the 15th century, dignified and yet comfortable atmosphere.
Perfect Italian classic home cooking.
Address Piazza Carlo d'Arco 1, Mantova
Phone +39 0376 32 71 01
Rest day Monday and Tuesday
Restaurants in Cremona:
Osteria del Melograno
Cozy interior and friendly service. The dishes of the Cremonese cuisine are extremely tasty here.
Address Via Eugenio Beltrami 5, Cremona
Phone +39 0372 318 63
La Sosta- Restaurant
The Lombard restaurant is prominently located in the old town and impresses with its successful interior design. The staff is friendly and courteous, the food is of the best quality.
Address Via Sicardo Vescovo 9, Cremona
Phone +39 0372 45 66 56
Rest day Monday
Trattoria del tempo perso
A harmonious place, warm and helpful service, local food at reasonable prices.
Address Via Ceresole 3, Cremona
Phone +39 339 328 58 94
Rest day Tuesday and Wednesday
Sparlari - Shop
A must stop at this historic store where you can find everything and more. Cremonese nougat - specialties (Torrone e Torroncini), Baci di Cremona, the tart (Torta Sbrisolosa), mustard and sauces for cheese and much more. The store presents itself in an excellent way both inside and out. Being a historical place, it has a special style and decor. The products are varied and of excellent quality. You really are spoiled for choice here. Friendly and helpful staff and fair prices for the quality make this place a highly recommended visit.
Address Via Solferino 25, Cremona.
Events in Mantova:
Literatur - Festival("Festa della Letteratura", in Mantova, im September)
Literature - Festival ("Festa della Letteratura", in Mantova, in September)
Events in Cremona:
You cannot cross Cremona, the world capital of violin making (among the most famous violin makers Stradivari, Guarnieri and Amati) without visiting the Violin Museum with the adjoining beautiful Auditorium "Giovanni Arvedi".In the auditorium, at certain times of the day, you can admire performances with Stradivarius violins. The special feature of the auditorium is that the acoustics are so perfect that it is also used as a recording room. The auditorium may not seem very large, but it seats nearly 500 people. It's architecturally stunning, and a large series of photos hangs in the lobby showing the progress of the construction of the space.
Piazza Sordello & Dom Cattedrale di San Pietro
Mantova - Palazzo del Te
Palazzo del Te
Dom Cattedrale di San Pietro
Rotonda di San Lorenzo
Rotonda di San Lorenzo
Palazzo del Te
Palazzo del Te
Palazzo del Te