2. Mantua: St. George's Castle & Ducal Palace Private Tour
The origins of Mantua date back to the Etruscan time, when Mantua was a god of Hades. The great Latin poet Virgil (Publius Vergilius Maro 70-10 B.C.) was born here. Visiting Mantua, walking along the old town heart is like stepping back in time. During this 2.5-hour walking tour, your expert local guide will take you to discover two of the most important building in Mantua: the Castle of St. George and the Ducal Palace.
Let's start from the first one. St. George's Castle is the first historical building that welcomes the visitors as they enter the town of Mantua. Built by Francesco Gonzaga between 1395 and 1406 on the project by Bartolino da Novara, the castle was originally meant for the defense of the city, and then it became a residence of the family. After a renovation required by the marquis Ludovico II Gonzaga in 1459, the castle lost its original defensive role and became one of the most important examples of the Italian Renaissance when Andrea Mantegna painted the famous Camera degli Sposi (The Bridal Chamber).
After your visit of the castle, walk to the most representative square or Mantua, Piazza Sordello, where your visit inside the Ducal Palace will start. The palace represents the main residence of the Gonzaga family, lords, marquises and finally, the dukes of the city. Under the Austrian domination with Maria Teresa of Austria, it was called Palazzo Reale (Royal Palace). Interestingly, the palace was built in different times starting from the 13th-century, first by the Bonacolsis and then by the Gonzagas. Many different parts, buildings, courts and gardens compose the palace, which you will have the chance to get to know and admire through this guided walking tour. Get ready to experience Mantua in a way you wouldn't expect. One final tip: you might want to bring along your camera.