Palazzo Te - Upcoming exhibition on Maria Callas

On view stage costumes, dresses, memorabilia, and archival photos collected over years of passionate research by Bruno Tosi, President of Associazione Culturale Maria Callas. First displayed at the Olivetti Show Room in Venice in 1993, this exhibition has successfully toured around the world. Following shows at the Italian Cultural Institutes of Los Angeles and San Francisco, the exhibition has now been extensively enlarged and updated and is now on view at the Italian Cultural Institute of New York. Then the exhibition will come back to Italy: from April 15th, in fact, the spirit of La Divina will inhabit the Renaissance rooms of Palazzo Te, Mantua.

Don't miss the occasion to meet - at the same time! - the magnificence of the Italian Art and the memories of one of the most iconic voices in the History of Opera. So contact us and make your guided tour a visit to be remembered!

Discover the place where the Opera was born

During the XVI century, Ferrante Gonzaga – the youngest of the six Isabella d’Este’s children – had a palace built in the center of Mantua. When his son Cesare inherited the building, he decided to create a theatre within it. He also setted there the meeting point for a group of his intellectual friends, known as  the “Accademia degli Invaghiti” (“Academy of the Enamored ones”). Since the Academicians used to have this theatre as their conference room to discuss about art, literature, and - mostly - music, the place soon became a center of the renaissance culture. So important that the very first melodrama of history was played there: “The History of Orpheus” composed by Claudio Monteverdi - considered the first Opera -  was staged at the Accademia on the Carnival of the 1607.
Unfortunatly the original theatre doesn't exist anymore. In fact, in the second half of the XVIII century it was so crumbling, that the Academy had to rebuild it.
The Academy - then renamed "Academy of Science, Literature and Arts" by the empress Maria Theresa from Austria - commissioned the Architect Antonio Galli Bibiena to reconstruct the theatre, exactly in the same place. The building of the new theatre - called "Bibiena" by the name of his constructor - begun 1766, and on the 3rd December 1769 it was inaugurated.
Few weeks after the inauguration, on the 16th  January 1770, Mozart, who was only 13 years old, came to Mantua from Salzburg to play a concert. On that occasion, the young Mozart said that the "Bibiena Theatre" was the most beautiful theatre in the world.
Wish to know more? Contact us, come to Mantua and discover through our professional services people, places and stories, like this one.

Mantua tips for dummies - Visiting Mantua on Sunday? Save your parking money!

When in Mantua - and generally in Italy - be aware that the parking areas marked with blue lines require a fee. BUT if on the parking-signal there are two hammers crossed, YOU DON'T NEED to pay on Sundays (and festivities too). So don't put your coins in the parking-meter machines: they will take your money nevertheless, providing you with a ticket for the following day!

The main blue-lined parking areas (paying Mon to Sat) are:

Via San Giorgio (Ducal Palace area) - Piazza Sordello (Ducal Palace area) - Piazza Seminario (Ducal Palace area) - Piazza D’Arco  - Lungolago Gonzaga - Viale Risorgimento (Palazzo Te area)

Piazzale Montelungo (Palazzo Te area) is a particular blue-lined parking. Here you pay just one euro for all the day (Sundays too) and the parking-meter machine will provide with two tickets: the parking fee and a bus ticket.

The main white-lined parking areas (always free) are: 
Viale Mincio - Piazza Virgiliana - Piazza Anconetta - Campo Canoa

Keep following this blog for other tips!

For further information about the Italian parking system, please check this website.

Sensual art in Palazzo Te

The inscription running around the walls of the chamber of Cupid and Psyche (or Eros and Psyche) in Palazzo Te says that Federico Gonzaga, lord of Mantua, “ordered its construction for his honest leisure after hard work to regain his strength in peace”.
What kind of “honest leisure”? Well, this detail of the frescos painted by Giulio Romano can answer the question.
Among the amorous-themed paintings in the room, this one has been treated with an extraordinary boldness, reflecting the flaming passion for sexual pleasure, which marked the behaviors of Federico Gonzaga.
The scene shows the king of gods Jupiter entering – disguised as a snake – into the bed of Olympias, queen of Macedonia. According the legend, in consequence of this intercourse the Queen gave birth to Alexander the Great.
The scene is forthrightly pornographic. But the fresco is also referring to a biographical aspect of Federico's life: the lord of Mantua had a child from his mistress, Isabella Boschetti, who used to live in this Palace. And this son was named Alexander.
Want to know more? Contact us and discover through our professional services the people, the stories and the art, who have made Mantua one of the capitals of the Renaissance.

L'iscrizione che corre sulle pareti della camera di Amore e Psiche a Palazzo Te dichara che Federico Gonzaga, signore di Mantova, "ne ordinò la costruzione per l'onesto ozio, al fine di ritemprare la forze nella quiete dopo le fatiche".
Che tipo di "onesto ozio"? Beh, questo dettaglio degli affreschi dipinti da Giulio Romano può rispondere alla domanda.
Tra i dipinti a tema amoroso della stanza, questo è stato trattato con un’incredibile audacia, che riflette la passione ardente per i piaceri della carne, che tanto ha segnato i comportamenti di Federico Gonzaga.
La scena mostra Giove, il re degli dei, mentre – mutatosi in serpente – entra nel letto di Olimpia, regina di Macedonia. Secondo la leggenda, in conseguenza di questo rapporto, la regina diede alla luce Alessandro Magno.
La scena è senza mezzi termini pornografica. Ma l'affresco è anche riferimento ad un aspetto biografico della vita di Federico: il signore di Mantova ebbe infatti un figlio dalla sua amante, Isabella Boschetti, che viveva in questo palazzo. E a questo figlio fu dato il nome Alessandro.
Volete saperne di più? Contattateci e scoprite attraverso i nostri servizi professionali le persone, le storie e i tesori dell'arte, che hanno fatto di Mantova una delle capitali del Rinascimento.

Mantua tips for dummies - How to call a taxi

Visiting Mantua, you may need to call a taxi (cab).
When you are in front of the Rail Station, in Sordello Square (Ducal Palace) or at the Teatro Sociale, there is no problem: a taxi station is close to you.
But if you are anywhere else you have to make a phone call.... and it's not so easy: a recorded voice will answer your call, speaking only in Italian!
So here you have all the tips you need.

1) Before making the call, take note of where you are: the street/ square number or the name of a landmark (for example "Palazzo Te", or "Teatro Bibbiena").

2) Then dial on your phone: +39 376 368844 (if you have an Italian phone, just dial 0376 368844).

3) A recorded voice will answer you saying:
"Risponde l'operatore automatico Radio Taxi Mantova. Dopo il segnale acustico avete cinque secondi di tempo per comunicare il vostro indirizzo completo e rimanere in linea"
["This is the automatic answer from Radio Taxi Mantua. After the beep, you have five seconds to provide with your location and then hang on"]

4) After the "beep", provide with your location.

5) The company will look for the nearest taxi. The voice will say:
"Stiamo cercando il vostro taxi, attendete prego"
["We are looking for your taxi, please wait"].
It can takes some time: just wait hanging on.

6) After several seconds, the voice will say :
"Arriva il taxi XXXX  in X minuti. Se accettate dite sì"
["The taxi - name and number of the taxi* - is coming in minutes - number of minutes to wait fo the cab -, if you agree, say 'Si' (Yes)"]
You have to confirm your booking saying yes, using the Italian word "Si".

7) Hang up: your taxi will arrive soon.

*Please note that taxis are white cars, their name is composed by the name of a city and a number (for example "Padova 8", "Parma 12", "Verona 13" and so on). Please, check on the side of the car that the taxi coming is the one you've booked.

Keep following this blog for other tips!

Let me introduce myself

“I am an Art Historian dedicated to
Leisure, Travel and Professional Tourism”

I was born in Mantua in 1978. After attending a secondary school focusing on humanitarian studies (where I learned Latin and Ancient Greek) I moved to Venice where I studied in Ca’Foscari University, and graduated in the History of Art with top marks and honours. The topic of my thesis was Isabella d’Este, Marchioness of Mantua.

During my University years I joined the “Classical Tradition Seminar”, and with my colleagues and professors I founded the on-line magazine “ Engramma”. With the same group of scholars I also published the book “L’Originale Assente”.

After the University, I came back to Mantua, where I won a study-award (2.000 euro) and a scholarship (8.000 euro), allowing me extend my research.

Since 2006 I have an Italian State license as a Professional Guide.

In 2008 I acted as Scientific Curator for the exhibition “ Classico Manifesto” (Milan, Triennale), dealing with the relationships between Art and Advertising.

In 2009 I was engaged by Skira Publisher and “Il Corriere della Sera” (one of the most well regarded and popular Italian newspapers) to write guide books of Italian cities (Mantua, Siracusa, Catania and Bari) as well as a book on Giulio Romano. I also write for one of the most renowned and best-known Italian Art Magazines: “Art e Dossier”.

In 2010 I was commissioned by the local Council to train Urban Stewards of Mantua (assistants for tourists).

At the moment I am commissioned by the Council of Mantua to do a survey on the decoration of Palazzo Te.

During my educational background, I attended summer English courses in Dublin, Durham, Norwich, Plymouth and Chester. After my degree I started to have private language lessons. Thanks to the meetings with my tutor (a British opera-singer), I have improved my knowledge of artistic terms in English.

In my career I have guided many tourist groups – including very specialized ones, like those organized by the International Seminar Design INC. I’ve also shown celebrities - including MPs, writers (Michel Faber and Alexander McCall Smith) and music stars (Simon LeBon and Nick Rhodes) around Mantua.

So, if you are planning to pay a visit to Mantua, I am your perfect point of reference. You can count on me to make your guided tour a day to be remembered.

Lorenzo Bonoldi

VisitMantua Administrator
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