A Too Quick Day Trip To Mantova (Mantua)

Palazzo Ducale - Day trip to Mantova Mantua Italy.jpg

From Verona You Can Day Trip To Mantova

During our 10 days in Verona, we planned a mix of local sites, day trips and some just relaxing local wandering. Our B&B hostess suggested that we might want to do a day trip to Mantova.

While eating breakfast we did some iPad surfing.  First we realized that Mantova was also referred to as Mantua.  And then we found there was lots to see in Mantova. The number one draw was the Palazzo Ducale.  But sine online opinions suggested that Palazzo Te was a better option.

The Train To Mantova

We waited and made sure the rain was past and then took the 12:30pm train. We figured we had about 6 hrs before the sites closed.  This even allowed for a lunch stop (or dinner if we took the later train back).

It was a quick 45 minute train ride to yet another dilapidated train station in this Veneto region. Exiting the station we found no markings to suggest it might be a train station.  So we fixed the image in our brains for the return trip. We had our offline map app for navigation.  But a quick look at the town map in the train station gave us a simple route to follow. As we got closer to main attractions, there were actual tourist maps with attraction information, so it then became much easier.

Walking Around Town

Many of the smaller roads and sidewalks were covered with large river rock, not well grouted or filled. This made walking these roads twice as tough and tiring. We found a return trip thru more major roads.

Town Piazza Erbe Cobblestones.jpg

I had to feed the Travelling Stomach (aka David) before he got too grouchy.  He chose horse tartar for his lunch.  This did not do anything for my appetite.  So it was a good thing I stuck with pumpkin ravioli.

Steak Tartar.jpg

The great authentic chocolate orange gelato we picked up as we walked washed away the lunch flavours. We had an interesting chat with the gelateria owner and learned first about his visit to Canada.  He warned us about fake gelato stores. Apparently these second grade shops used the covered aluminum containers for gelato to suggest that their product was authentic. We would have to go back to sampling to make sure we got quality!

As in many of the cities in Italy, many of the sites were covered with scaffolding and under repair. We wandered about the Piazza Erbe, with much to see on all sides.

Town Piazza Erbe - Day Trip To Mantova Mantua Italy.jpg

Town Piazza Erbe.jpg

Palazzo Ducale and the Castle

Even the Palazzo Ducale would only be open until the end of Sept and would then also close for reparations. At 6.50€ each, the € per km on our feet ended up being a great value. We called uncle early.  It may have been from the walking or from the overload of the imagery.

The signs at the entrance seemed to suggest that no cameras were allowed so David put his DSLR and lenses into a locker. We ultimately found that while in one room no pics were allowed, everywhere else we went you could take pics with no flash.  So don’t hesitate to take your cameras.

We tried to enter the Palzzo Ducale only to be told that we must visit the castle first.  So we tromped back outside and further along the cobblestone walk.  Entering through the castle yard, we saw the inner courtyard.

Castle Palazzo Ducale.jpg

Castle Palazzo Ducale - Day Trip To Mantova Mantua Italy.jpg

At the castle entrance, we got a check mark on our ticket and walked up the spiral ramp to the display area.  There was really only one major room to see.  It was covered almost completely with frescos (and guarded to make sure nobody took pictures). The only pictures we got were in the entrance or the minor rooms.

Castle Palazzo Ducale Frescos.jpg

Castle Palazzo Ducale Frescos - Day Trip To Mantova Mantua Italy.jpg

Wandering Through The Palazzo

Making our way back to the Pallazo, we were now admitted and began to follow the numbered route. Each major stop had both an audio guide number and a QR code with information about that stop. We decided not to take the audio guides as an online review noted that most of the talk was about the history rather than the artifacts in the room. Had we taken the guides I am sure we would have abandoned them halfway through when we couldn’t bear to go so slow and hear any more.

The frescos were quite amazing.  But we wondered how many of them were genuine and old versus re-created. In some rooms they appeared to be quite complete.  Yet in other rooms only small sections had been discovered. Many of the frescos provided strong almost 3-D images.

Palazzo Ducale Frescos - Day Trip To Mantova Mantua Italy.jpg

Palazzo Ducale Frescos.jpg

In one room we saw a line drawing which depicted what the fresco underneath should reveal. We assumed this guided the restoration work.

Palazzo Ducale Frescos.jpg

Many of the rooms had great terrazzo floors.

Palazzo Ducale Terrazzo Floor.jpg

Some of the rooms had large art displays. We wondered about the age, authenticity and value of the paintings.  They were kept with no light or humidity protection.  And the windows were wide open on this muggy day.

Palazzo Ducale Corte Vecchio Art.jpg

Palazzo Ducale Corte Vecchio Art - Day Trip To Mantova Mantua Italy.jpg

Everywhere We Looked Was Beautiful On Our Day Trip To Mantova

Ceilings were ornate, some fully painted and others more ornamental designs.  Some even looked like carved wood. Doorways and windows were equally adorned.

Palazzo Ducale Ceiling Art - Day Trip To Mantova Mantua Italy.jpg

Palazzo Ducale Ceiling Art - Day Trip To Mantova Mantua Italy.jpg

Palazzo Ducale Ceiling Art - Day Trip To Mantova Mantua Italy.jpg

Palazzo Ducale Ceiling Art - Day Trip To Mantova Mantua Italy.jpg

Palazzo Ducale Ceiling Art - Day Trip To Mantova Mantua Italy.jpg

Palazzo Ducale Ceiling Art - Day Trip To Mantova Mantua Italy.jpg

Palazzo Ducale Ceiling Art - Day Trip To Mantova Mantua Italy.jpg

Palazzo Ducale Ceiling Art.jpg

As with many Palazzos, art galleries and churches, after awhile it became too much. On the second half of our tour we paid less attention to the detail. We were disappointed that a major section (the Mantegna frescos and the Camera degli Sposi probably) was closed. We dragged our butt out slowly.  There was no thought of trying to take in yet the second stop at the Pallazzo Te. That would wait for another trip.

A Busy Day Trip To Mantova

We slowly made our way back to the train station and caught an earlier train back to Verona than we originally planned. It was a fast train ride back and we easily found our bus stop for a quick trip to our local area for dinner.

It was worth the day trip into Mantova.  But plan to go for the whole day and rest in the middle if you want to tackle more than just Palazzo Ducale. If we had to choose only one stop, most people told us we should have done Palazzo Te. Wear good shoes since the cobblestone roads and the big palazzos demand it!

Later in this trip to Italy, we visited the city of Ravenna.  We recalled this day trip to Mantova as we explored the beautiful mosaics in Ravenna.

Have you done a day trip to Mantova?  Did you visit the Palazzo Ducale or Palazzo Te?  Did we really miss the prize?

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Palazzo Ducale - Day trip to Mantova Mantua Italy.jpg

Palazzo Ducale - Day trip to Mantova Mantua Italy.jpg


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