Mantua and the surrounding area
Mantua, known as the 'Italian Versailles', is the casket which still encases a part of the immense store of treasures collected by the dukes of Gonzaga. Here is situated the Basilica di Sant’Andrea built by Leon Battista Alberti, designed to hold that most precious of relics, the earth from Golgotha, which had been soaked with the blood of the crucified Christ, supposedly brought to Mantua by Longinus the Roman soldier who, according to legend, thrust a lance into Christ’s side to certify that he was dead on the cross. Then there is Giulio Romano's cathedral - and the DucalPalace, which seems to echo with the footsteps of the cultured and gracious Isabella d'Este. Onwards to Piazza delle Erbe, with its ancient cobblestones and terracotta buildings.. to see the sunset over the River Mincio with its large, lotus-flower islands. From the Ducal Palace to Palazzo Te - moving that is, from Mantegna's sublime "Camera Picta" ("Painted Chamber") to Giulio Romano's disturbing "Sala dei Giganti" ("Room of the Giants"). This City was much-loved by Virgilio, Torquato Tasso, Shakespeare, Goldoni…
Just as the extensive kitchens of the Gonzaga family once issued forth elaborate dishes of game in sweet-sour sauces and rich, frosted desserts, so today the historic trattorias or the newer restaurants prepare amaretti-filled tortelli or risottos flavoured with salamella, squash or freshwater crayfish from the river. A slice of the typical 'sbrisolona' cake can be enjoyed at the trattoria where Goldoni once wrote “La bottega del Caffè” ("The Coffee Shop")- or a plate of garlic sausage, at the establishment where Casanova regularly dined.
One-day or two-day trips are scheduled.