16 luglio 2009

Mantova, Italia

Mantova, Italia - After our quick stop in Verona we have rapidly made our way out of the Veneto and back into Lombardia to visit Mantova, a city surrounded by artificial lakes. Entering the city was quite impressive as we drove along a long Romanesque causeway across Lago Superiore, with a view of the city in the distance.

Our first stop was Palazzo Ducale (unfortunately a visit to the Palazzo Te was not a possibility, but I will save that for next time). But I was thrilled to enter to the Palace of the noble Gonzaga family.

The art historian in me practically squealed in delight as we passed room after room of exquisite artwork. And then my morning was completed when I was able to finally see Mantegna's frescoes in the Camera degli Sposi. It was nice to be able to share some of my knowledge with the three inquisitive minds that accompanied me through the Palazzo. Justina, Lauren, and Maribel were an absolute delight and, watching as they took in every piece of artwork, every architectural element, every trompe d'oeil, I was reminded how much I enjoy teaching.

After our visit we had free time to explore the rest of the city and enjoy a Mantuan lunch. I had wanted to visit the Rotonda di San Lorenzo before grabbing a bite to eat, but unfortunately it was closed. And other plans to visit the Basilica di Sant'Andrea to see Alberti's design and to enter the Duomo were thwarted by the grumbling sound in my stomach and four very persuasive and entertaining teenagers who invited me to join them at lunch this afternoon.

Lunch was fantastic. We managed to find, after quite a bit of walking and hunting, a very nice bar with outdoor seating. It was nice to get to know some of the kids better, enjoy a nice meal, and push the girls to actually practice their Italian in a practical setting.

Although we didn't get much sightseeing done after lunch, it was nice to know that I could admire the Rotonda while we ordered a gelato. It was then I really appreciated Mantova. A place of romance and genius. I had seen Mantegna. I had passed the façade of the Basilica whose original design was created by Alberti, and I had walked the same streets as Dante's idol and guide in the Commedia, the famous ancient poet Virgil. Unfortunately, because of time constraints, I was unable to enjoy more of this enchanting town. I suppose it will have to wait until my next visit.

For now we continue south to Firenze, where we'll get a chance to accommodate ourselves in our Hotel before heading to dinne, some late night explorations, and possibly some exquisite Florentine gelato.

Mantegna's frescoes - Camera degli Sposi

Until Vivoli and Santa Croce, travel on.

-- post made from iPaolo

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