In Mantua, looking for Romeo.

We are going to give a special tour for a group from the “Bryn Mawr Alumnae Association”. This visit will be a part of an extensive tour provided by International Seminar Design INC, focusing on Shakespeare’s Italy. The group will be led by Katherine Rowe, (Ph.D., Harvard), Professor of English, Director of the Katharine Houghton Hepburn Center and Director of Digital Research and Teaching. As the tour program says, Renaissance Italy looms in the imagination of Shakespeare and his contemporaries: nearly a third of Shakespeare’s plays and poems mention specific sites and events in the country, or adapt Italian sources and literary models. During the past, Italy offered to English writers a cultural model to admire, imitate, and seek to surpass. Modern Italy has returned the passion, making fictional Shakespearean settings into real pilgrimage sites. 

Mantua has been chosen as a step of this tour for three main circumstances:
  • Mantua and the Forest of Mantua are specified settings in two Shakespeare plays: The Two Gentlemen of Verona (Act IV, scene 1 and Act V, scene 3), and Romeo and Juliet (Act V, scene 1).
  • Giulio Romano, the architect and painter who designed, built and decorated Palazzo Te, has the distinction of being the only modern artist mentioned by Shakespeare: the Bard called him “that rare Italian Master” (The Winter’s Tale, V.2.96-8).
  • Mantua has been used as a splendid movie set for the upcoming film adaptation of Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet”. The tragedy has been adapted by the Oscar-winning director and writer Julian Fellowes, and the movie, directed by Carlo Carlei, is going to be a traditional version similar to Franco Zeffirelli’s adaptation of the tragedy. The cast includes hot stars-in-the-making such as Douglas Booth (Romeo), Hailee Steinfeld (Juliet) and Ed Westwick (Tybalt).The movie is going to be on the screens on the day of St. Valentine (14th February 2013).

Music at the Ducal Palace, to save the Ducal Palace.

This weekend – 29th and 30th September, we celebrate the "European Heritage Days".

On this occasion the Mantua Chamber Orchestra, conducted by Carlo Fabiano, is going to offer some concerts to the Ducal Palace, affected by the recent earthquakes. The Orchestra is going to perform music by Bach, Mozart, Schubert, Beethoven, Debussy and Verdi, in some of the most enchanting rooms of the Palace.

The admission for the Palace, and for the concerts as well, will be free of charge.

Although the concerts are free, we’d love to emphasize the difference between "offered by the artists" and "no paid" ... these events are organized to help the restorations, so: Be generous!

The "Society for the Ducal Palace in Mantua" will collect via web (also using PayPal) any donation in favor of the restoration needed to reopen the Castle of San Giorgio, the Bridal Chamber by Mantegna and the New Court. Thanks for any help that you give the support of the restoration of the Ducal Palace in Mantua.

Earthquake: partial reopening of the Ducal Palace

A third of the Ducal Palace – the part who has been affected by minor damages during the earthquake – is now reopened.

The visitor’s route includes:

The Duchesses' Staircase; Domenico Morone's "Battle between the Gonzagas and the Bonacolsis"; The medieval Captain’s Palace; Pisanello's Arthurian frescoes; The New Gallery; The Room of the Archers (with Rubens' "The Gonzaga family adoring the Holy Trinity"); Gallery of the Mirrors (ballroom); Vincenzo Gonzaga's apartment;  the Hall of the Rivers facing Hanging Garden; Tapestries by Raphael; Neoclassical Apartment “Of the Empress”; the private Rooms of Isabella d’Este.

The most valuable part of the Palace is still closed , awaiting for restoration (and funds).

The closed areas are:

The Castle of St. George; the Bridal Chamber ("Camera Picta" aka "Camera degli Sposi") frescoed by Mantegna; The Room of Manto; The New Court; The Room of the Horses; the Room of the Heads; the Room of Troy by Giulio Romano; The Gallery of the Marbles, The Gallery of the Exhibition facing the Cortile della Cavallerizza (Horses Courtyard), the Apartment of the Metamorphosis facing the Botanic Garden.

The Zodiac Room and the Chamber of the Popes (in the Old Court) are occupied by scaffolds: you can pass through them, but you won’t be able to see the frescoes.


The restoration is going to take a long time – maybe years. And mostly, the Ducal Palace needs and deserves help in the fundraising.

If you wish to give this help, please feel free to donate.
All donations will be collected by the “Società per il Palazzo Ducale” as a contribution for the restoration and the recovery of the artistic heritage damaged by the earthquakes.
You can donate – also using PayPal – through the website of the Society.

The Society will assure the correct use of the funds, which will be spent under the control of the Direction of the Ducal Palace.

Thank you for every kind of your help you will provide with, saving the Ducal Palace of Mantua.


Festivaletteratura: the main cultural festival in Mantua

Festivaletteratura is a literary fair, held in Mantua, Italy, since 1997. It is the main cultural festival of the city: five days of small-sized lectures by authors from all over the world. The lectures - about two hundred events - are usually hosted in historical venues like palaces, cloisters and squares. The event is run mostly by volunteers, numbering around 700 in total.
The low-profile style has in time attracted many big names of literature, along with Nobel Prize winners.
One of the most important guest of this edition will be Neil MacGregor, director of the British Museum. He is going to give a speech on Sept 8th, at the Bibiena Theatre (event n.139).
The attendance to the events roughly matches the population of the city, so it would be better to book tickets and accommodation in advance.


On May 20th and May 29th 2012 two strong earthquakes shook Mantua. The Ducal Palace had some severe damage: many cracks in walls, ceilings and floors. Frescoes, stuccoes, painted plasters and some sculptures have been affected.
The Palace – which is the home of great masterpieces such as frescoes by Mantegna, Pisanello, Giulio Romano, paintings by Rubens and tapestries by Raphael – is now almost completely closed, waiting for restoration.
The Ducal Palace needs and deserves help.
If you wish to give this help, please feel free to donate.
VisitMantua will not earn any money involved in this fundraising, we simply want to represent a further vehicle to encourage people to donate. All donations will be collected by the “Società per il Palazzo Ducale” as a contribution for the restoration and the recovery of the artistic heritage damaged by the earthquakes.
The Society will assure the correct use of the funds, which will be spent under the control of the Direction of the Ducal Palace.
The names of all the Donors will be included in the “Gold Book” of the Society.
Thank you for your help in saving the Ducal Palace of Mantua.


A third of the Ducal Palace is now reopened: discover more reading this post.

Saving Santa Barbara

On May 29th 2012, after a strong earthquake, the lantern of the bell-tower of the St. Barbara’s Church collapsed down. In a month time, a special crew of firemen saved the dome of the bell-tower, making it safe. It has been an extraordinary work of engineering. At a height of 56 meters (156 feet).

The church of Santa Barbara, which had the role of Palace chapel ("Basilica Palatina") for the Gonzagas, was built in 1562-1572 by Giovanni Battista Bertani, commissioned by Duke Guglielmo.
It has been dedicated to Saint Barbara, in memory of Barbara of Brandenburg (i.e. the Marchioness of Mantua, portrayed by Mantegna in the “Bridal Chamber”), the great-great grandmother of Duke Guglielmo.

Saint Barbara is also the patron saint of firemen. For this reason we want to publish some pictures regarding  the great job the firemen did to save the dome of the bell-tower Church. 

The Ducal Palace is still quite completely closed. The restoration works have already started, but they will take a long time. And they require money. The portrait of the Marchioness Barbara, frescoed by Mantegna along with the other members of her family, awaits – and deserves – help.

VisitMantua is now working with a great friend of us, La Mode Diplomatique, to plan some actions in  supporting the fundraising and the restorations. 
Follow us to be updated on this topic: Mantegna and the Ducal Palace need your help!   

A third of the Ducal Palace is now reopened: discover more reading this post.

Mantegna’s frescoes have been creaked by an earthquake. 
Let the world know:
Send Tweet , and share the SOS

After-earthquakes re-openings in Mantua

Palazzo Te is now pretty completely open. The only room still closed is the “Room of the Sun and the Moon”.

The Ducal Palace, where the restorers are now working, will be closed for an indefinite period of time. Anyway some spaces of the Palace have been reopened on June 16th:

  • The Private Rooms of Isabella d’Este (“Scalcheria”, “Studiolo”, “Grotta” and “Secret Garden”) – entrance from Piazza Sordello.
  • The Botanic Garden (“Giardino dei Semplici”) and the “Rustica” (“Chamber of the Fishes”, “Cabinet of Orpheus”, “Chamber of Jupiter”, “Chamber of the Four Pillars”, “Chamber of Bacchus”, “Chamber of the Fruits” and the “Chamber of the two Columns”, with an exhibition of Ancient Greeks Marbles within  ) – entrance from Piazza Paccagnini.
A third of the Ducal Palace is now reopened: discover more reading this post.

Earthquake in Mantua: a list of the main damages in the Ducal Palace

Bridal Chamber by Mantegna (“Camera degli Sposi”, aka “Camera Picta”: a long crack appeared on the wall with portraits of the Gonzaga family; some of pieces of frescoed plaster have fallen down.
Chamber of the Initials: opening of cracks in the frescoed ceiling.
Chamber of the Friezes: large and worrying cracks.
More generally, severe damages to the supporting wall structures: break and fall of bricks in correspondence of the windows. Break of the footbridges behind the crenellation of the towers.

Hall of Manto: Fall of frescoed plasters, large cracks in the frescoes, dislocation of the coffered wooden ceiling (the largest in Mantua).
Staircase of Aeneas (connection between the New Court and the Castle): severe dislocating cracks of the walls.
Gallery of the Marbles (aka Gallery of the Months): severe falls of plaster and painted stuccoes. Collapse of a part of the moulding cornice. 
Gallery of the Exhibition: many cracks. The Gallery is also threatened by the unstable dome of the of near Bell-tower of the Basilica of Santa Barbara (Church of the Palace), which is likely to collapse, breaking through the ceiling.
Nova Domus: a crack in the outer (supporting) wall in correspondence of one of two terraces overlooking the Garden of the Simples.
Corridor of Bertani: unstable ceiling (somewhere collapsing).
Corridor of Paolo Pozzo: collapse of a part of the marble balustrade on the roof of the passage.

PALATINE BASILICA OF SANTA BARBARA (Private Church of the Gonzagas)
Collapse of the lantern of the bell-tower (destroyed).
Unstable dome of the bell-tower.
Damage to the façade.
An angular crack on one of the Cubes (square domes) of the Church.

Hall of the Rivers: widespread falls of frescoed plaster.
Ducal Flat: tipping of a wall to the outside, with danger of collapse on the beneath Paccagnini Square; dislocation of the windows.
Chamber of Pisanello: failure of one of the rafters.

A third of the Ducal Palace is now reopened: discover more reading this post.

Mantegna’s frescoes have been creaked by an earthquake. 
Let the world know:
Send Tweet , and share the SOS

Earthquake in Mantua. First news from Palazzo Te

May 29th - The Mayor of Mantua and the Director of Palazzo Te have checked through the Museum today at 16.30. They described falls of rubbles, of stuccoes and of frescoed plaster, and also vertical cracks in the North Wing: the Loggia of the Muses, the Exterior Loggia, the Hall of the Horses and the Chamber of Cupid and Psyche have been damaged.

Due to the earthquake Palazzo Te is closed indefinitely.
Follow us on our blog and on Twitter (@VisitMantua) to be update about this topic.

A third of the Ducal Palace is now reopened: discover more reading this post.

29th May – New Earthquake in Mantua

29th May – New Earthquake in Mantua. The lantern of the bell-tower of the Palatine Basilica of Santa Barbara,  the Palace Chapel for the Gonzagas, has collapsed. The Palatine Church of Santa Barbara was commissioned by the Duke Guglielmo Gonzaga and built between 1562 and 1572 by Giovan Battista Bertani. The bell-tower, with its characteristic lantern, was one of the most prominent landmarks of the skyline of the city.

Mantua Skyline at 12.00 on May 29th

Mantua Skyline at 13.00 on May 29th

Earthquake: damages in the Ducal Palace of Mantua

May 20th 2012 - Earthquake in Northern Italy: the Ducal Palace of Mantua has been damaged. About 40 centimeters squared (16 inches squared) with frescoes and stucco have been destroyed in the Gallery of the Marbles (aka Gallery of the Months). Mantegna's frescoes are unscathed. Many cracked ceilings and many horizontal cracks, mostly in the New Court.
The Museum is closed indefinitely.
Palazzo Te is unhurt, and open as usual.

A third of the Ducal Palace is now reopened: discover more reading this post.

Celebrating the Birthday of Isabella d'Este: Marchioness of Mantua and First Lady of the Renaissance

Isabella d’Este was born on May 17th, in the year 1474. Her birth is recorded in an illuminated manuscript – the Genealogy of the Princes of the Este Family: that book contains the very first portrait of Isabella, featuring here as a baby. Underneath her portrait these lines: “Isabella is the first legitimate daughter – and fourth natural child – of the Duke Hercules d’Este and his wife, Eleonor of Aragon. She was born on Tuesday 17th May, at half an hour after the first hour of the night”.

According to the Julian Calendar, Isabella was a Gemini, and her ascendant was Sagittarius. This zodiac sign appears on the reverse of the medal cast for Isabella by Giancristoforo Romano.
VisitMantua celebrates the anniversary of Isabella’s birth with a selection of the portraits of the “First Lady of the Renaissance”.


Anonymous Ferrarese illuminator – Giancristoforo Romano – Leonardo da Vinci
School of Leonardo – Anoymous cameo carver – Lorenzo Costa
Anyonimous Painter – Titian – Rubens

Do you want to know more about the woman, who  –  even during her lifetime – was named "The First Lady" of the Renaissance?
Contact us and discover through our professional services the beautiful and fascinating private rooms of Isabella in the Ducal Palace of Mantua. Or book your Tour via ToursByLocals

Pixar in Mantua: a Digital Renaissance

Art challenges Technology. And Technology inspires Art”( John Lasseter).
This is the idea ruling the exhibition about the creative PIXAR talent,  revealing and investigating the making of the highly acclaimed animated films we have come to know so well.

Starting in the mid 1980s, an exceptional and inspiring trio of innovators, John Lasseter, Ed Catmull and Steve Jobs, combined their gifts in art, science and business to launch a whole new approach to making 3-D animated films and ended up reshaping the face of filmmaking forever. Pixar Animation Studios was formed in 1986 in California, USA. It combines creative and technical artistry to create original stories in the medium of computer animation. Pixar made history in 1995 with Toy Story, the first fully computer animated feature film.

The exhibition in Palazzo Te features over 500 works by the artists at Pixar Animation Studios, including drawings, paintings, and sculptures that illustrate the creative process and craftsmanship behind Pixar’s wildly successful computer-animated films. The show spans all Pixar’s feature films (Toy Story, A Bug’s Life, Toy Story 2, Monsters Inc., Finding Nemo, The Incredibles, Cars, Ratatouille ,WALL*E, UP, Toy Story 3, Cars 2) together with all the short films and a preview of Brave, to be released in 2012.

On show also a sunning Zoetrope, showing how animation works.

We are planning a special guided tour to Palazzo Te and the Pixar Exhibition, contact us for information.

Admission Fees
Adult visitors  € 10,00
Visitors over 60, groups of 20 or more people  € 8,00
Visitors 6 to 17 yeas and college students  € 6,00
Mantova Card owners  € 4,50
Primary School classes € 2,50
Secondary and Upper school classes € 4,50

Giorgio Armani Visits Mantua

An “emotionally-conflicted young woman caught in an unsettling love triangle”. This is what the plot of the new Armani’s spot is about. The short film, directed by Luca Guadagnino, sees a blonde heroine pursued through a historic Italian town by two mysterious, Giorgio Armani-clad assailants.
But actually the historic towns are two: although some scenes have been shoot in the “Museo del Violino”,  based in Cremona, the most of the movie has been filmed in Mantua (see here a map of the locations). Watching the movie, you can recognize the Rotunda of St. Lorenzo,  the passing between Piazza Santa Barbara and Piazza Paccagnini, and - most of all - the main Loggia of Palazzo Te.

VisitMantua goes to the B2B Unesco Workshop

We are going to attend an educational workshop with professionals from 15 countries.
We'll meet 22 tour operators, coming from Japan, USA, Israel, Germany, Russia, Spain, France, United Kingdom, Norway, Sweden, Danemark, Austria, Belgium, Holland and Switzerland.

The Educational Tour and the Workshop “UNESCO World Heritage sites and cities in Lombardy” are promoted by the Mantuan Chamber of Commerce, with the Lombardy Region and Unione Camere Lombardia.
From February 27th to March 4th, the representatives of the involved international Tour Operators will visit the sites and the cities in Lombardy, inscribed in the UNESCO World Heritage List.
The educational tour will end up with a Workshop B2B meeting with local tourist operators. Including - of course! - VisitMantua.

Have a look to our brochure.

Goodbye Clifford.

Clifford Malcolm Brown, the great canadian scholar, died on 14th January 2012. He spent his live researching about Isabella d'Este, Mantua and the Gonzaga family.  
* * *

Goodbye Clifford, 
your books have been a precious guide for our studies and researches.
We are keeping in our heart the memories of those two days we spent together in Mantua, with that dinner, during which we talked for hours and hours about our Isabella. Thanks for your friendship, and for the encouragement you gave to our studies. Your researches are a precious inheritance for all the scholars studying about Isabella d'Este. We'll remember you as a precise scholar with a generous spirit.
We are sure that you are now in a place, where you can meet our Isabella, asking her to dissolve those very few little doubts and mysteries, whom your studies had not solved yet. 
Please, forward our greetings to her.
And please, tell her we are friends.

A selected list of studies by Clifford M. Brown:

Per dare qualche splendore a la gloriosa città di Mantua. Documents for the Antiquarian Collection of Isabella d'Este

Isabella d'Este in the Ducal Palace in Mantua: An Overview of Her Rooms in the Castello di San Giorgio and the Corte Vecchia

Tapestries for the Courts of Federico II, Ercole and Ferrante Gonzaga, 1522-63

Engraved Gems: Survivals and Revivals. Studies in the History of Art


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