1. Mantua: Self-Guided Audio Tour to the City of Lakes
Italy is full of beautiful cities but exploring Mantua, the City of Lakes in the heart of the Po Valley isn’t an experience to be missed. On this walking tour, I’ll guide you through the UNESCO World Heritage Site where the great poet Virgil was born. I’ll show you its labyrinth of charming streets that open onto gorgeous piazzas, and share the highlights of its history and cuisine. Starting in front of Castle of San Giorgio (Castello di San Giorgio), I’ll tell you about the three lakes surrounding the city which are said to originate from prophetess Manto’s tears – and how they were actually built by marvelous engineers over 800 years ago. At Piazza delle Erbe (Market’s Square), I’ll show you traces of the powerful medieval Canossa family, including the oldest church in the city, Rotonda di San Lorenzo, which they commissioned. I’ll also tell you why this spot was chosen for the church and how it’s connected to the Holy Blood of Jesus Christ. Strolling past the many beautiful gothic-style medieval buildings, you’ll hear stories about the city’s various rulers including the Bonacolsi and Gonzaga families, who were part of the oldest dynasties in Europe. You’ll see Campanile di San Domenico, best known as the city’s centre for the Inquisition, and some impressive palatial homes including Palazzo del Capitano, Palazzo della Ragione, and the Ducal Palace. Finally, I’ll guide you through the former Jewish Ghetto, where I’ll show you La Casa del Rabbino which once housed the community’s rabbis. Along the way, you’ll have a chance to: • Hear about Matilda Canossa, who ruled over all of Tuscany and commissioned the Rotonda di San Lorenzo • See Rigoletto’s House, the building hand-picked in 1851 to feature in Giuseppe Verdi’s opera Rigoletto • Find out where you can see Camera degli Sposi, the breathtaking fresco by Renaissance artist Andrea Mantegna • Gaze upon the Basilica di Sant Andrea, Cattedrale di San Pietro, and the Church of Santa Barbara • Tuck into local specialties like Risotto alla Mantovana, pumpkin toretelli, pumpkin gnocchi, and Mantua Salame • Learn about Mantua’s Jewish community, which was once large enough to have six synagogues Join me and see Mantua through the ages of Antiquity, the Middle Ages, and the Renaissance, and enjoy a touch of excellent Italian cuisine.