MANTUA UNESCO CITY
Visitors will be taken on a guided tour of the city, registered in the World Heritage List since 2008. The old town centre, surrounded by the Mincio river, deserves to be gradually explored by walking through its well renowned main squares and alleys, thus allowing to discover the signs of the medieval and roman origins of the city. Visiting one of the most magnificent royal palaces of Italy is a must: the Ducal Palace of Gonzaga, featuring the famous Camera Picta by A. Mantegna, as well as Mantua’s most important Renaissance heritage: the Church of S. Andrea, built upon a design by L. B. Alberti. A visit to Palazzo Te concludes this ideal tour of the city: the palace is also known as “il Palazzo dei Lucidi Inganni” (literally, the palace of lucid illusions) and represents a fine example of mannerist architectural style, where the curvy figures and lively colours, fruit of Giulio Romano’s talent, mesmerised past and present visitors. This 16th century palace is not only a Villa Suburbana (pleasure palace) of great artistic interest, but also serves as host for prestigious temporary exhibitions as well as a location (upon request) for private gala dinners in its suggestive Giardino d’Onore (formal garden). At the end of the day, visitors will enjoy a dinner in a typical restaurant where they will be able to taste the local cuisine: Parmigiano Reggiano, tortelli di zucca (pumpkin tortelli), with a pinch of mustard added by the Gonzaga to refine their taste, and Mantuan salami, all accompanied by the famous Lambrusco Mantovano DOC.
MANTUAN MORAINIC HILLS: A LOOK AT LAKE GARDA
Between Mantua, Brescia and Verona, a ring of green hills marks the southern border of Italy’s most renowned lake, the Garda lake or Benaco: this is the area of Morainic hills with its beautiful and historically famous villages, located among sweet hills and vineyards. One of the most interesting to visit is Solferino, located among the Mantuan Morainic hills and crossed by the Mincio river: this village left a permanent mark in the history of Italy and of the whole humanity by giving birth to the International Red Cross. Castellaro Lagusello, overlooking a heart-shaped lake and surrounded by medieval walls, thus deserving the title of one of Italy’s best historical villages, is also worth visiting. The numerous local cellars are the home place of several red wines such as the Cabernet Sauvignon and the Merlot, produced under the famous labels of Garda Colli Mantovani DOC Merlot and Garda Colli Mantovani DOC Cabernet. The ancient oenological tradition of the area is further enriched by its prestigious neighbour vineyards: the small region located on the southern bank of the Garda Lake, going from Peschiera to Lonato, is the home town of the white wine Lugana DOC. During the tour, visitors will be able to enjoy a wine tasting experience in one of the local cellars. They will also be offered the opportunity to participate in a bicycle or soft-trekking tour of the area. They will be then taken back to Mantua for the night.
FRANCIACORTA: THE SPARKLING LAND OF BUBBLES
This third day will be dedicated to the Franciacorta territory, where the hills of Brescia’s western suburbs cross the border of the Iseo Lake. Franciacorta is also known as “the northern Tuscany”, with its sweet hills, patrician villas, castles, surrounding walls and churches. However, Franciacorta is mainly the reign of sparkling wine, where the Chardonnay and Pinot Nero grapes give birth to prestigious wines such as the Franciacorta DOCG, the first (and the only one, until today) Italian Brut to receive the Protected and Guaranteed Designation of Origin, which reached unprecedented levels of excellence and is appreciated throughout the whole world. Montisola, Europe’s biggest lake isle, certainly deserves a detour from the main itinerary: it can be explored on boat, walking or cycling, and it features the protected natural area of Parco Regionale delle Torbiere, as well as palaces, abbeys and ancient fortifications. Of these places of great historical and artistic interest, visitors can choose among the Palladian Villa Lechi in Erbusco, the ancient and majestic Olivetan abbey of San Nicola in Rodengo Saiano, Provaglio d’Iseo with the beautiful Monastery of san Pietro in Lamosa, founded by the monks of Cluny and overlooking Sebino’s peat bogs, and the suggestive town of Iseo, that gives the name to the aforementioned Lake. Visitors will be offered the opportunity to explore the area on a mild cycling tour. One of the most exciting moments of the day will be the Franciacorta DOCG tasting experience in one of the most prestigious local wine cellars. Visitors will then be taken back to Mantua for the night.
VALPOLICELLA: PRESTIGIOUS VILLAS AND EXCELLENT WINES
The journey ends up with a tour of the wonderful Valpolicella, a well known hill territory within the district of Verona, at its best during the cherry blossom period and particularly famous for its viticulture, the historical cellars and the beautiful “ville venete” (Veneto villas). The itinerary follows the route from S.Ambrogio di Valpolicella to Fumane and Negrar, allowing visitors to discover ancient medieval parishes and prestigious historical buildings now hosting traditional wine cellars. This tour also offers a tasting experience of the red wines such as Valpolicella, and wines made of black grapes such as the Recioto and Amarone, one of the most famous red wines of the world. Among the most important historical buildings, the parish churches of S. Ambrogio of Valpolicella and Fumane deserve a detour, as well as the nearby villas of counts Serego-Alighieri, Dante’s descendants and Villa della Torre, a singular construction built in the 16th century on the model of the Mantuan Palazzo Te, thus recalling Giulio Romano’s work and the itinerary’s starting point. In Negrar, the 18th century garden of Villa Rizzardi in Pojega and the extraordinary Park of Villa Mosconi Bertani are definitely worth a visit. The tour also involves a wine tasting experience at a famous local cellar within a villa. Visitors will be offered the opportunity to take a cycling tour among hills and vineyards, after which they will be taken back to Mantua for the night.