MANTUA, SABBIONETA , VERONA, Voices, places, smells and flavours: a journey across the four senses


Voices, places, smells and flavours: a journey across the four senses


Mantua, Sabbioneta and Verona are three UNESCO World Heritage Sites that are bond by important literary, musical and theatrical events and that enshrine superb models of theatrical architecture. Mantua is a unique gem: during the Gonzaga epoch it acted as a major centre for the diffusion of Renaissance trends and values, as well as an important literary and musical capital.

Also the birthplace of latin poet Virgil, every year the city hosts Festivaletteratura, a unique literary event featuring writers and authors from all over the world. Mantua also originated the melodrama, from Claudio Monteverdi to Giuseppe Verdi, who chose it as the setting for Rigoletto. The theatres represent another magnificent part of the city: the wonderful Bibiena Theatre served as a honourable frame for young Mozart’s talent, who performed here in 1770.

One of the most important examples of baroque theatrical architecture can be therefore compared with a no less important example of renaissance theatrical architecture, Sabbioneta’s Teatro all’Antica (theatre in the style of the ancient), a masterpiece of the “ideal city” as described by Vespasiano Gonzaga. Visits to the Roman Theatre and the Arena of Verona will conclude this all-encompassing experience, which will also involve a taste of the extraordinary local culinary tradition.

Arrival in Mantua. Guided tour of the Ducal Palace, royal residence of the Gonzaga family throughout four centuries. This immense palace still hides many treasures among the collected pieces of arts commissioned by the marquises and later dukes of Mantua. Besides admiring Mantegna’s frescos in the Camera degli Sposi (the Bridal Chamber)as well as other areas commonly visited by tourists, following request and authorisation the tour may also divert to areas that are normally forbidden to the public, such as Isabella d’Este’s Apartment and the Sala dello Specchio (the Hall of the Mirror) where Claudio Monteverdi used to play “ogni venere di sera...” (every Friday), accessible from the Hanging Gardens. The tour then moves to the external part of the Palace, through squares and courtyards that were once part of the court, as a proper “city inside the city”, as well as the Palatine Church of Santa Barbara, that still guards the precious 16th Century organ. During the lunch break, visitors will be free to wander around the city. The tour then continues across the old town’s squares to discover the places of music and literature, such as the Bibiena Theatre, inside the Virgilian Academy Palace, the House of Rigoletto and the Church of S. Andrea. Dinner in a typical restaurant and accommodation will be provided.

Breakfast at the hotel. Trip to Sabbioneta, the “ideal town” founded by Duke Vespasiano Gonzaga, an extraordinarily wellkept example of Reinassance architecture and town planning. After a brief walk along the city walls, the tour will continue with a visit to the Ducal Palace, the Garden Palace with the Gallery of the Ancient and the Teatro all’Antica (theatre in the style of the ancient), superbly designed by Vincenzo Scamozzi, one of Palladio’s pupils. At lunchtime, visitors will be able to taste typical products at a local farmhouse restaurant. They will then be taken back to Mantua where they can enjoy some free time. They will be offered the chance to take part to a special event or show (see event list at bottom of page: Festivaletteratura, Verona’s Roman Theatre or Arena’s listings, or other events depending on the time of the year). Night stay in Mantua. 

Trip to Verona and half-day walking tour, from piazza Bra, featuring the magnificent Arena amphitheatre, to piazza Erbe and piazza dei Signori. Weather permitting, visitors will also be allowed to climb on Torre dei Lamberti to enjoy a breathtaking view of the city. The tour then continues with a visit of the Church of S. Anastasia to then reach, after crossing the ancient Pietra bridge, the Roman Theatre in the old town centre, which today still hosts a number of shows. Lunch break. Free time. (Suggested landmarks: the beautiful Giusti Garden, a true example of Italian renaissance garden, and the nearby church of S. Maria in Organo, for extraordinary wooden tarsias of its choir and sacristy).






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