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Discover the Ducale Palace of Mantua on a Luxury Barge Cruise In Italy by Laura Jeeves

Discover the Ducale Palace of Mantua on a Luxury Barge Cruise In Italy by
Article Posted: 07/21/2022
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Discover the Ducale Palace of Mantua on a Luxury Barge Cruise In Italy

Travel & Tourism

Italy is well known for its history, culture, food and climate, and for these reasons it’s always a popular holiday destination with tourists. One unique and unforgettable way to experience Italy is on a luxury barge cruise. It’s perhaps not your first thought when dreaming of Renaissance architecture and romantic vistas, but it is an increasingly popular way to immerse oneself in Italian culture. There’s little that could be more enjoyable than drifting along Roman waterways past ancient villages, sampling the local cuisine and relaxing on your luxury barge cruise.

The Ducale Palace

One of the most popular routes for a luxury barge cruise in Italy is to travel the Canal Bianco and the River Po, linking the famous city of Venice to Mantua, in the west, passing through some unmissable destinations en route. One such highlight to be found on the River Po is the Ducale Palace, in Mantua. Actually a group of buildings erected between the fourteenth and seventeenth centuries, the structures were a home for the ruling Gonzaga family of Mantua for a long time. The place now acts as a museum, delighting locals and tourists alike with the rich history and culture of the city.

Breathtaking buildings

‘Palace’ almost doesn’t do justice to this sprawling complex, which extends over 34,000m2 - that’s bigger than the Vatican! Boasting a plethora of rooms, imposing towers, beautiful gardens and even churches, the estate was home to the Gonzagas for over 400 years. With architecture drawing from both the Baroque and the Neo-classical traditions, the Palazzo has more than 950 rooms for you to explore as a must-see stop on your luxury barge cruise.

History and heritage

The oldest of the structures in the palatial complex were built by the Bonacorsi family in between the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, before the Gonzaga family took over the rule of Mantua in 1328, and so took ownership of the Ducale Palace. In the 1700s, when the Gonzaga dynasty died out, the Palace was claimed as part of the Austrian Empire, owned by the House of Habsburg.

Awe-inspiring artworks

The oldest attraction of the complex is the Corte Vecchia, translating to ‘Old Court’. The rooms in this area display some of the magnificent artwork that the palace is famed for, including thirteenth-century Arthurian frescoes painted by Pisanello. Art lovers will be similarly thrilled by the Camera Picta (painted room), in which Andrea Mantegna used the walls to tell the story of the Gonzaga family triumphs through the medium of Renaissance artwork. Around the turn of the sixteenth century, Isabelle d’Este was Marchesa of Mantua, and later became famous as the ‘First Lady of the Renaissance’. Her studiolo in the palazzo is still available for you to explore; whilst it is now empty of the amazing artefacts and treasures she collected there, the atmosphere of the dark starry walls will transport you back in time to the excitement of the Renaissance.

To truly understand the depth and richness of culture and history on offer at the Ducale Palace, visiting on the itinerary of a luxury barge cruise is an excellent option. Be sure to book with a trusted and experienced company to give you peace of mind and allow you to truly relax and enjoy the experience; you won’t regret learning the secrets of Mantua’s palace as you float away on your travels.

Author Plate

Paul Newman is the Marketing and E-Systems Executive for European Waterways, the UK's most respected provider of all-inclusive luxury barge cruise itineraries in Italy, France and many other places. 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.

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