For any discerning culture-loving traveller, a river cruise in Italy should definitely be on the radar. While this fascinating country needs little introduction, there are still plenty of hidden gems that go unnoticed by the average visitor – and the city of Mantua is certainly one of these. |
Celebrated for its historical attributes, this charming city is also a strong placeholder on the culinary map of this famous foodie destination. It is the ideal stop off for anyone who enjoys soaking up an authentic local atmosphere, savouring regional dishes as well as visiting monuments, churches and other fascinating places of interest.
Boating, Cycling and Walking
The best way to make the most of the historic centre’s monuments is on foot, and it’s quite surprising how much you can actually achieve in a day here. Visit the Palazzo Ducale, Andre Mantegna’s house and Mantua’s oldest church to begin your exploration!
Top Tip: When visiting Mantua as part of a river cruise in Italy, you could also discover the city by bike.
Mantua’s Bibiena Theatre is the place in which a teenage Mozart captivated an audience only a short time after the inauguration of the building. Mozart’s father is said to have written to his wife telling her that the theatre was the most beautiful he had ever seen – and it’s hard to dispute his sentiment. A stunning façade designed by Piermarini offers only a taste of what is inside this magnificent construction. A marvellous rococo and beautiful porcelain décor are the highlights.
If you find yourself on a river cruise in Italy in September, the Festivaletteratura is an event that’s not to be missed. An intimate literary festival showcasing artistic performances, concerts, readings by authors and much more, it is a unique experience exclusive to this city.
Giuseppe Verdi’s Mantua
Not many people realise that Verdi based his opera, Rigoletto, in Mantua. The scenes were carried out in the city streets themselves. Spend a relaxing afternoon wandering around and imagining the scenes of the opera being performed before you. The first two acts were performed in front of the Palazzo Ducale, while the conclusion of the play took place at the Lago di Mezzo.
The White Storks of Mantua
Ticking each cultural attraction off your list can really take it out of you, so if you’re in need of some peace and tranquillity, take a trip to the Parco del Mincio. Established in 1994, the park is a centre devoted to reintroducing White Storks to Italy – the perfect place for those seeking a change of pace and little natural beauty.
Any river cruise in Italy is going to be full of surprises, mainly in the guise of culture, history and gastronomy; indeed this is why you will have booked it in the first place. If your cruise takes in Mantua, you are in for a treat, as this city comes highly recommended.
Paul Newman is the Marketing and E-Systems Executive for European Waterways, the UK's most respected provider of all-inclusive luxury barge holidays. If you're looking for a fantastic river cruise in Italy, or cruises to other great destinations, they are the go-to experts. 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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