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"Mantova" redirects here. For the football club, see A.C. Mantova.
For other uses, see Mantua (disambiguation).
Comune di Mantova
Panorama of Mantua
Panorama of Mantua
Mantua is located in Italy
Location of Mantua in Italy
Coordinates: 45°10′N 10°48′E / 45.167°N 10.800°E / 45.167; 10.800
Country Italy
Region Lombardy
Province Mantua (MN)
Frazioni Castelletto Borgo, Cittadella, Curtatone, Formigosa, Frassino, Gambarara, Lunetta, Virgiliana
 • Mayor Nicola Sodano (PdL)
 • Total 63.97 km2 (24.70 sq mi)
Elevation 19 m (62 ft)
Population (31 June 2009)
 • Total 48,353
 • Density 760/km2 (2,000/sq mi)
Demonym Mantovani
Time zone CET (UTC+1)
 • Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)
Postal code 46100
Dialing code 0376
Patron saint Anselm of Lucca, the Younger
Saint day March 18
Website www.comune.mantova.it

Mantua (Italian: Mantova [ˈmantova] ( ); Emilian and Latin: Mantua) is a city and comune in Lombardy, Italy, and capital of the province of the same name.

In 2007, Mantua's centro storico (old town) and Sabbioneta were declared by UNESCO to be a World Heritage Site. Mantua's historic power and influence under the Gonzaga family has made it one of the main artistic, cultural, and especially musical hubs of Northern Italy and the country as a whole. Mantua is noted for its significant role in the history of opera; the city is also known for its architectural treasures and artifacts, elegant palaces, and the medieval and Renaissance cityscape. It is the place where the composer Monteverdi premiered his opera Orfeo ed Euridice and where Romeo was banished in Shakespeare's play Romeo and Juliet. It is the nearest town to the birthplace of the Roman poet Virgil, who was commemorated by a statue at the lakeside park "Piazza Virgilio".

Mantua is surrounded on three sides by artificial lakes, created during the 12th century, as the city's defence system. These lakes receive the water of River Mincio, a tributary of the Po which descends from Lake Garda. The three lakes are called Lago Superiore, Lago di Mezzo, and Lago Inferiore ("Upper", "Middle", and "Lower" Lakes, respectively). A fourth lake, Lake Pajolo, which once completed a defensive water ring of the city, was dried up at the end of the 18th century.

The area and its environs are important not only in naturalistic terms, but also anthropologically and historically; research has highlighted a number of human settlements scattered between Barche di Solferino and Bande di Cavriana, Castellaro and Isolone del Mincio. These dated, without interruption, from Neolithic times (5th–4th millennium BC) to the Bronze Age (2nd–1st millennium BC) and the Gallic phases (2nd–1st centuries BC), and ended with Roman residential settlements, which could be traced to the 3rd century AD.


See also: Duchy of Mantua

A settlement existed as early as around 2000 BC on the banks of the Mincio, on an island which provided natural protection. In the 6th century BC it was an Etruscan village which, in Etruscan tradition, was re-founded by Ocnus.[1][2]

The name derives from the Etruscan god Mantus. After being conquered by the Cenomani, a Gallic tribe, the city was conquered between the first and second Punic wars by the Romans, who attributed its name to Manto, a daughter of Tiresias. The new territory was populated by veteran soldiers of Augustus. Mantua's most famous ancient citizen is the poet Publius Vergilius Maro, Virgil (Mantua me genuit), who was born near the city in 70 BC at the village now known as Virgilio.[3]

After the fall of the Roman Empire, Mantua was invaded in turn by Goths, Byzantines, Longobards and Franks. In the 11th century it became a possession of Boniface of Canossa, marquis of Toscana. The last ruler of the family was the countess Matilda of Canossa (d. 1115), who, according to legend, ordered the construction of the precious Rotonda di San Lorenzo (1082).

After the death of Matilda of Canossa, Mantua became a free commune, and strenuously defended itself from the Holy Roman Empire in the 12th and 13th centuries. In 1198 Alberto Pitentino altered the course of River Mincio, creating what Mantuans call "the four lakes" to reinforce the city's natural protection. Between 1215 and 1216 the city was under the podesteria of the Guelph Rambertino Buvalelli.

Expulsion of the Bonacolsi in 1328, scene of Piazza Sordello, canvas of Domenico Morone

The House of Gonzaga[edit]

During the struggle between the Guelphs and the Ghibellines, Pinamonte Bonacolsi took advantage of the chaotic situation to seize power in 1273. His family ruled Mantua for the next century, making it more prosperous and artistically beautiful. On August 16, 1328, the last Bonacolsi, Rinaldo, was overthrown in a revolt backed by the House of Gonzaga, a family of officials. Luigi Gonzaga, who had been podestà of the city in 1318, was elected "People's Captain". The Gonzagas built new walls with five gates and renovated the architecture of the city in the 14th century, but the political situation in the city did not settle until the third Gonzaga, Ludovico Gonzaga, eliminated his relatives, seizing power for himself. During the Renaissance, the Gonzaga family softened their despotic rule and raised the level of culture and refinement in Mantua.[4] Mantua was a significant center of Renaissance art and humanism. Marquis Gianfrancesco Gonzaga had brought Vittorino da Feltre to Mantua in 1423 to open his famous humanist school, the Casa Giocosa.

Ludovico Gonzaga receiving the news of his son Francesco being elected cardinal, fresco by Andrea Mantegna in the Stanza degli Sposi of Palazzo Ducale.

Through a payment of 120,000 golden florins in 1433, Gianfrancesco I was appointed marquis of Mantua by Emperor Sigismund, whose niece Barbara of Brandenburg married his son, Ludovico. In 1459 Pope Pius II held the Council of Mantua to proclaim a crusade against the Turks. Under Ludovico and his heirs the famous Renaissance painter Andrea Mantegna worked in Mantua as court painter, producing some of his most outstanding works.

The first Duke of Mantua was Federico II Gonzaga, who acquired the title from Emperor Charles V in 1530. Federico commissioned Giulio Romano to build the famous Palazzo Te, on the periphery of the city, and profoundly improved the city. In the late 16th century Claudio Monteverdi came to Mantua from his native Cremona. He worked for the court of Vincenzo I Gonzaga, first as a singer and violist, then as music director, marrying the court singer Claudia Cattaneo in 1599.

From Gonzaga to Habsburg[edit]

In 1627, the direct line of the Gonzaga family came to an end with the vicious and weak Vincenzo II, and the town slowly declined under the new rulers, the Gonzaga-Nevers, a cadet French branch of the family. The War of the Mantuan Succession broke out, and in 1630 an Imperial army of 36,000 Landsknecht mercenaries besieged Mantua, bringing the plague with them. Mantua never recovered from this disaster. Ferdinand Carlo IV, an inept ruler, whose only interest was in holding parties and theatrical shows, allied with France in the War of the Spanish Succession. After France's defeat, he took refuge in Venice, carrying with him a thousand pictures. At his death in 1708 he was declared deposed and his family lost Mantua forever in favour of the Habsburgs of Austria.

Under Austrian rule, Mantua enjoyed a revival and during this period the Royal Academy of Sciences, Letters and Arts, the Scientific Theatre, and numerous palaces were built.

On June 4, 1796, during the Napoleonic Wars, Mantua was besieged by Napoleon as a move against Austria, who joined the First Coalition Against France. Austrian and Russian attempts to break the siege failed, but they were able to spread the French forces such thin enough that the siege was abandoned on 31 July. After diverting the French forces elsewhere, the French resumed the siege on August 24. In early February 1797, the city surrendered and the region came under French administration. Two years later, in 1799, the city was recaptured by the Austrians after the Siege of Mantua (1799).

Later, the city again passed into Napoleon's control. In 1810 Andreas Hofer was shot by Porta Giulia, a gate of the town at Borgo di Porto (Cittadella) for leading the insurrection in the County of Tyrol against Napoleon.

After the brief period of French rule, Mantua returned to Austria in 1814, becoming one of the Quadrilatero fortress cities in northern Italy. Agitation against Austria culminated in a revolt which lasted from 1851 to 1855, but it was finally suppressed by the Austrian army. One of the most famous episodes of the Italian Risorgimento took place in the valley of the Belfiore, where a group of rebels was hanged by the Austrians.

Unification of Italy[edit]

In 1866, Mantua, along with the republic of Lombardy-Venetia, was incorporated in the united Italy by the king of Sardinia.

Main sights[edit]

Piazza Sordello.
UNESCO World Heritage Site
Mantua and Sabbioneta
Name as inscribed on the World Heritage List
Palazzo Ducale
Type Cultural
Criteria ii, iii
Reference 1287
UNESCO region Europe
Inscription history
Inscription 2008 (32nd Session)
Church of Santa Paola.

The Gonzagas protected the arts and culture, and were hosts to several important artists such as Leone Battista Alberti, Andrea Mantegna, Giulio Romano, Donatello, Peter Paul Rubens, Pisanello, Domenico Fetti, Luca Fancelli and Nicolò Sebregondi. Though many of the masterworks have been dispersed, the cultural value of Mantua is nonetheless outstanding, with many of Mantua's patrician and ecclesiastical buildings being uniquely important examples of Italian architecture.

Main landmarks include:



By car, Mantova can be reached on the A4 (Milan-Venice) Highway up to Verona, then the A22 (Brennero-Modena) Highway. Alternatively, the city can be reached from Milan on the State Road 415 (Milan-Cremona) to Cremona and from there State Road 10 (Cremona-Mantova), or from Verona on the State Road 62.


Mantova railway station, opened in 1873, lies on the train routes of Milan-Codogno-Cremona-Mantua and Verona-Mantua-Modena. The station is a terminus of three regional lines, Mantova to Cremona and Milan, Mantova to Monselice, and Mantova to Verona Porta Nuova and Modena.


The closest airport is Verona-Villafranca Airport. There is a direct shuttle bus service running to and from the railway station as provided by APAM. This bus journey takes 45 minutes.

Mantova is additionally connected to Bergamo-Orio al Serio Airport (Il Caravaggio International Airport) by bus services as run by Orio Express.


Local bus services, urbano (within the city area and suburbs) and interurbano (within the surrounding towns and villages) are provided by APAM.


  • An annual survey of Legambiente (an ecologist movement of Italy) in 2005 declared Mantua the most 'liveable' city of the country. The study was based on levels of pollution, quality of life, traffic, and public transport, among other criteria.[5]
  • The body of Saint Longinus, twice recovered and lost, was asserted to have been found once more at Mantua in 1304, together with the Holy Sponge stained with Christ's blood.
  • In William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, Romeo spends his period of exile — his punishment for killing Tybalt— in Mantua. In Shakespeare's Taming of the Shrew, the schoolmaster who pretends to be Lucentio's father, Vincentio, is from Mantua.
  • The composer Claudio Monteverdi was employed by Vincenzo Gonzaga, Duke of Mantua, ruler of the Duchy of Mantua, when he wrote the Vespers of 1610. Vincenzo's son and successor in 1612, Francesco IV Gonzaga, Duke of Mantua, summarily sacked Monteverdi, who went on to a more prestigious position at the Basilica of San Marco, Venice.
  • Giuseppe Verdi's opera Rigoletto (based on Victor Hugo's play Le roi s'amuse) is set in Mantua. Austro-Hungarian authorities in Venice forced him to move the action from France to Mantua. A medieval building with portico and 15th-century loggia in Mantua is said to be "Rigoletto's house". It was actually the house of the cathedral regulars. It was chosen by the Gonzaga family as the residence of the legendary fool who was then used by Verdi in his opera.
  • Since 1997 Mantua has hosted the Festivaletteratura, one of the most renowned literary events in Europe.
  • In 2007 the remains of two people were discovered during the construction of a factory. The remains are thought to be between 5,000 and 6,000 years old. It is speculated that the remains are of two young lovers because the two skeletons appear to be embracing. [1]


As with many European cities, Mantua has been the inspiration for the names of many other settlements, including:


Mantua, a village in West Hants, Nova Scotia

United States

Mantua, Ohio; Mantua, Utah; Mantua, New Jersey; Mantua, Virginia; the Mantua district of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; the village of Mantua in Baltimore County, Maryland; the hamlet of Mantua (sometimed spelled Manatua) in Greene County, Alabama; and a location in Monroe County, Iowa.


Mantua, a municipality and city in the Pinar del Río Province of Cuba.

Sister cities[edit]

Famous citizens[edit]

Baldassare Castiglione by Raphael at Louvre-Lens
Tazio Nuvolari

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Fagles, Robert: The Aeneid (2006), 10.242, Penguin Group, ISBN 0-670-03803-2
  2. ^ Lucchini, Daniele: Rise and fall of a capital. The history of Mantua in the words of who wrote about it (2013), ISBN 978-1-291-78388-9
  3. ^ Conte, Gian Biagio. Trans. Joseph B. Solodow Latin Literature: A History. Johns Hopkins University Press, 1994.
  4. ^ Henry S. Lucas, The Renaissance and the Reformation (Harper & Bros. Publishers: New York, 1960) pp. 42-43.
  5. ^ http://www.corriere.it/english/articoli/2005/11_Novembre/22/mantova.shtml
  6. ^ Dates of birth and death, and cause of the latter, from ‘Baldassarre Castiglione’, Italica, Rai International online.
  7. ^ MacClintock, Carol (1979). Readings in the History of Music in Performance. Indiana University Press. ISBN 0-253-14495-7. 

Further reading[edit]

Published in the 19th century
Published in the 20th century

External links[edit]

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mantua — Please support Wikipedia.
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MANTUA TWP. — Firefighters were dispatched to Pitman Family Eyecare in the 400 block of Woodbury-Glassboro Road at 8:58 p.m. Sunday. Smoke was reported showing from a loft area and first responders reported seeing smoke in several sections of the ...


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Mon, 25 Aug 2014 04:37:30 -0700

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Wed, 06 Aug 2014 16:05:04 -0700

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