—  Comune  —
Comune di Mantova
Panorama of Mantua

Coat of arms
Mantua is located in Italy
Location of Mantua in Italy
Coordinates: 45°10′N 10°48′E / 45.167°N 10.8°E / 45.167; 10.8
Country Italy
Region Lombardy
Province Mantua (MN)
Frazioni Castelletto Borgo, Cittadella, Formigosa, Frassino, Gambarara, Lunetta, Virgiliana
 – Mayor Nicola Sodano
 – Total 63.97 km2 (24.7 sq mi)
Elevation 19 m (62 ft)
Population (31 June 2009)
 – Total 48,353
 – Density 755.9/km2 (1,957.7/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 Official website

Mantua (Italian: Màntova About this sound listen , in the local dialect of Emilian language Mantua) is a city and comune in Lombardy, Italy and capital of the province of the same name. Mantua's historic power and influence under the Gonzaga family, made it one of the main artistic,[1] cultural and notably musical hubs of Northern Italy and the country as a whole. Mantua is noted for its significant role in the history of opera,[2] and the city is known for its several architectural treasures and artifacts, elegant palaces or palazzi, and its medieval and Renaissance cityscape. It is the town to which Romeo was banished in William Shakespeare's play Romeo and Juliet. It is also the nearest town to the birthplace of the Roman writer, Virgil.

Mantua is surrounded on three sides by artificial lakes created during the 12th century.[3] These receive the waters of the river Mincio, which descends from Lake Garda. The three lakes are called Lago Superiore, Lago di Mezzo, and Lago Inferiore ("Upper", "Middle" and "Lower" Lakes).[4] A fourth lake, Lake Pajolo, which once completed a defensive water ring of the city, dried up at the end of the 18th century.



A settlement existed as early as around 2000 BC on the banks of the Mincio, on a sort of island which provided natural protection. In the 6th century BC it was an Etruscan village which, in Etruscan tradition, was re-founded by Ocnus.[5]

The name derives from the Etruscan god Mantus, of Hades. 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 B.C. at the village now known as Virgilio.[6]

After the fall of the Roman Empire, Mantua was invaded in turn by 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 Matilde 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 the 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.

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.[7]

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 daughter Barbara of Brandenburg he married. In 1459 Pope Pius II held the Council of Mantua to proclaim a crusade against the Turks. Under Francesco II 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.

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 the latter'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. Austrian and Russian attempts to break the siege failed, but spread the French thin enough that the siege could be abandoned on 31 July so other battles could be fought. The siege resumed on August 24. In early February the city surrendered and the region came under French administration. Two years later, in 1799, the city was retaken by the Austrians.

Later, the city again passed into Napoleon's control. In the year 1810 by Porta Giulia, a gate of the town at Borgo di Porto (Cittadella), Andreas Hofer was shot; he had led 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, and was finally suppressed by the Austrian army. One of the most famous episodes of the Italian Risorgimento took place in the valley of Belfiore, when a group of rebels was hanged by the Austrians.

In 1866, Mantua was incorporated in the united Italy by the king of Sardinia.

Main sights

Piazza Sordello.
Mantua and Sabbioneta *
UNESCO World Heritage Site
Palazzo Ducale
Country Italy
Type Cultural
Criteria ii, iii
Reference 1287
Region ** Europe and North America
Inscription history
Inscription 2008 (32nd Session)
* Name as inscribed on World Heritage List
** Region as classified by UNESCO

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:

  • The Palazzo Te (1525–1535), a creation of Giulio Romano (who lived in Mantua in his final years) in the mature Renaissance style, with some hints of a post-Raphaelian mannerism. It was the summer residential villa of Frederick II of Gonzaga. It hosts the Museo Civico (with the donations of Arnoldo Mondadori, one of the most important Italian publishers, and Ugo Sissa, a Mantuan architect who worked in Iraq from where he brought back important Mesopotamian artworks)
  • The Palazzo Ducale, famous residence of the Gonzaga family, made up of a number of buildings, courtyards and gardens gathered around the Palazzo del Capitano, the Magna Domus, and the Castle of St. George.
  • The Basilica of Sant'Andrea
  • The Duomo Cathedral
  • The Rotonda di San Lorenzo
  • The Bibiena Theater
  • The church of San Sebastiano
  • The Palazzo Vescovile ("Bishops Palace")
  • The Palazzo degli Uberti
  • The Torre della Gabbia ("Cage Tower")
  • The Palazzo del Podestà which hosts the museum of Tazio Nuvolari
  • The Palazzo della Ragione with the Torre dell'Orologio ("Clock Tower")
  • The Palazzo Castiglioni Bonacolsi
  • The Palazzo Valenti Gonzaga, an example of Baroque architecture and decoration, with frescoes attributed to Flemish painter Frans Geffels. The façade of the palace was designed by Nicolò Sebregondi.


Mantua lies across the route from Milan-Codogno-Cremona-Mantua-Verona. By car, it can be reached on the A4 (Milan-Venice) Highway to Verona, and from there Highway A22 (Brennero-Modena). Otherwise, by State road 415 (Milan-Cremona) to Cremona, and from there State road 10 (Cremona-Mantova).

Mantova railway station, opened in 1873, forms part of the Verona–Mantua–Modena railway, and is a terminus of two secondary railways, linking Mantua with Cremona and Monselice, respectively. Until 1967, it was also a terminus of the Mantua–Peschiera del Garda railway.

The closest airport is Verona-Villafranca.


  • 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. [1]
  • 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 play Romeo and Juliet, Romeo spends his period of exile — his punishment for killing Tybalt— in Mantua. Also, in Shakespeare's play Taming of the Shrew, the schoolmaster who pretends to be Lucentio's father, Vincentio, is from this city.
  • 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.
  • 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. [2]


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


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.

Twin cities

Famous citizens

See also

  • Roman Catholic Diocese of Mantova
  • Tazio Nuvolari "The flying Mantuan" World famous racing Driver. There is a museum dedicated to his exploits.


  1. ^
  2. ^ Giovan Francesco II Gonzaga (duke of Mantua), Britannica Online Encyclopedia
  3. ^ "Mantua and the Gonzaga domains". UNESCO World Heritage Centre. 2006-06-01. Retrieved 2006-09-18. 
  4. ^ "Parco del Mincio". Comune di Mantova. Retrieved 2006-09-18. 
  5. ^ Fagles, Robert: The Aeneid (2006), 10.242, Penguin Group, ISBN 0-670-03803-2
  6. ^ Conte, Gian Biagio. Trans. Joseph B. Solodow Latin Literature: A History. Johns Hopkins University Press, 1994.
  7. ^ Henry S. Lucas, The Renaissance and the Reformation (Harper & Bros. Publishers: New York, 1960) pp. 42-43.

External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Mantua — • Diocese of Mantua (Mantuana), in Lombardy Catholic Encyclopedia. Kevin Knight. 2006. Mantua     Mantua      …   Catholic encyclopedia

  • MANTUA — MANTUA, city and province in N. Italy, an important Jewish center in late medieval and modern times. History The first record of a Jewish settlement in Mantua dates from 1145, when abraham ibn ezra lived there for a while. A small Jewish… …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • Mantua — Mantua, OH U.S. village in Ohio Population (2000): 1046 Housing Units (2000): 452 Land area (2000): 1.407040 sq. miles (3.644217 sq. km) Water area (2000): 0.000000 sq. miles (0.000000 sq. km) Total area (2000): 1.407040 sq. miles (3.644217 sq.… …   StarDict's U.S. Gazetteer Places

  • MANTUA — urbs Transpadanae regionis clarissima, Româ 300. annis antiquior, Episcopalis sub Archiepiscopo Aquileiensi, vulgo Mantua et Mantoa Italis, Mantove Gallis. Non longe a Cremonâ abesse innuit Virg. Eclog, 9. v. 28. Mantua vae miserae nimium vicina… …   Hofmann J. Lexicon universale

  • Mantua, OH — U.S. village in Ohio Population (2000): 1046 Housing Units (2000): 452 Land area (2000): 1.407040 sq. miles (3.644217 sq. km) Water area (2000): 0.000000 sq. miles (0.000000 sq. km) Total area (2000): 1.407040 sq. miles (3.644217 sq. km) FIPS… …   StarDict's U.S. Gazetteer Places

  • Mantua, UT — U.S. town in Utah Population (2000): 791 Housing Units (2000): 231 Land area (2000): 4.866287 sq. miles (12.603626 sq. km) Water area (2000): 0.738116 sq. miles (1.911711 sq. km) Total area (2000): 5.604403 sq. miles (14.515337 sq. km) FIPS code …   StarDict's U.S. Gazetteer Places

  • Mantua, VA — U.S. Census Designated Place in Virginia Population (2000): 7485 Housing Units (2000): 2723 Land area (2000): 2.421987 sq. miles (6.272918 sq. km) Water area (2000): 0.000000 sq. miles (0.000000 sq. km) Total area (2000): 2.421987 sq. miles… …   StarDict's U.S. Gazetteer Places

  • mantua — loose gown worn by women 17c. 18c., 1670s, from Fr. manteau cloak, mantle, from O.Fr. mantel (see MANTLE (Cf. mantle)); form influenced in English by Mantua, name of a city in Italy. Mantua maker (1690s) became the general early 19c. term for… …   Etymology dictionary

  • Mantua — Man tu*a, n. 1. A superior kind of rich silk formerly exported from Mantua in Italy. [Obs.] Beck (Draper s Dict.). [1913 Webster] 2. A woman s cloak or mantle; also, a woman s gown. [Obs.] [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Mantua — Mantua, Hauptstadt der gleichnamigen ital. Provinz (s. oben), liegt 20 m ü. M. am Mincio, der sich an der Nordseite der Stadt seeartig verbreitert (Lago Superiore, Lago di Mezzo und Lago Inferiore) und sie an der Südseite mit einem von Sümpfen… …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

  • mantua — [man′tyo͞o ə, man′to͞o ə] n. [altered (after MANTUA) < Fr manteau < OFr mantel,MANTLE] a mantle or loose gown or cloak formerly worn by women …   English World dictionary

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