For anyone who wants to explore Italy at a slower pace for the chance to immerse in the local landscape, culture and history, river cruising is one of the most enjoyable ways you can do it. Italian river cruises travel along the wonderful rivers and waterways to reveal a very different view of this much-loved country. Taking in incredibly beautiful scenery along the way, whichever one of the many wonderful Italian river cruises you choose, you’ll be making life-long memories from the first day. |
Italian river cruises offer plenty of opportunities for shore excursions and, depending on the itinerary you choose, you may stop off at the beautiful city of Mantua, in Lombardy. There’s quite a lot to see and do, so you might not be able to fit it all in, but below are just some of the must-see highlights.
Highlights of Mantua
This wonderful Italian gem is situated on the Canal Bianco, which is a little more off the beaten track because it’s only the smaller hotel barge vessels that are able to make it up that far. Encircled by three lakes and filled to the brim with Renaissance, Baroque and Neoclassical architecture, the UNESCO protected city of Mantua will enchant and delight you.
This vast palace was once the home of a wealthy horse breeding family in the fourteenth century. Spread over 500 rooms and 35,000 square metres, it is decorated with priceless artworks including frescoed ceilings, tapestries and incredible fully painted chambers. Take the time to wander around the tranquil Giardino dei Semplici, a stunning courtyard garden which is just one of many that surround the palace.
Rotonda di San Lorenzo
This very impressive and unique Romanesque building is the oldest church in the city, dating back to the eleventh century. It was hidden for many centuries and only rediscovered in 1907. The two-level church is partly sunken below the street level and you can still see the remnants of some of the original frescos. The interiors are incredibly ambient and, while it was originally thought to have been a Roman temple dedicated to Venus, it is today a working Dominican church.
Basilica di Sant’Andrea
While this isn’t the city’s main cathedral, in many ways it has an even more important history. With construction dating back to 1472, it is most notable for being the stronghold for the golden vessels beneath the altar that are said to hold earth soaked by the blood of Christ. One of the chapels is also the final resting place of Andrea Mantegna, the artist who painted the famous works of the Camera degli Sposi, in the Palazzo Ducale. The interiors are bathed in a beautiful light, which adds to the hallowed ambience.
Discover Mantua on Italian River Cruises
The kind of slow travel offered by Italian river cruises allows you to spend quality time in some of the most incredible places in the country, some of which many tourists don’t get to see. Mantua is one such place. It is often overlooked in favour of the more high profile places like Milan, Venice or Verona but, with more than 4,000 years of history and culture to explore, you really shouldn’t miss the opportunity to get to know it a little better.
Paul Newman is the Marketing and E-Systems Executive for European Waterways, the UK's most respected provider Italian river cruises as well other wonderful destinations in Europe and the UK. Part of a team of experienced barging aficionados, Paul is first in line to endorse the perks of a slow-paced barge cruise to anyone looking for a unique holiday experience.
Related Articles -
Italian, river, cruises,