Our last Brown orientation trip was to Mantova, Feb. 6.
Located in the South East corner of Lombardia, Mantova is about 70 miles North of Bologna. It was founded by the Etruscans about 2000 BC. The Gonzaga family was very influential in the 14th, 15th, and 16th centuries and was largely responsible for a renovation of the city’s architecture, the effects of which remain to this day.
We first visited the Basilica of Sant’Andrea, considered one of Leon Battista Alberti’s best works. We then moved on to the Palazzo Ducale. For the most part, it has been decided to keep the palazzo’s original lack of central heating intact. Even in winter, tourists can experience a significant drop in temperature as they enter the Gonzaga family residence. After lunch, we took a bus a little ways out of town to see Palazzo Te, the summer home of Frederick II of Gonzaga. He was a man who, judging by the frescos, did not believe that less is more.
Charles Dickens spent some time in Mantova (Mantua, in English) in 1844. He described Mantova as “dreary… intensely dull, and flat.” Who am I to argue with genius?