The food, wine and architecture of Mantua, Italy

by Marcelo Pinto October 12th 2012

Mantua, or Mantova in its native form, is the shy, but beautiful neighbour to popular cities like Parma, Verona and Venice. Considered to be the finest city in Lombardy, Mantua is an important cultural gateway to a rich Renaissance heritage.

 

Perched gloriously on the banks of the River Mincio, the city is further surrounded by three beautiful man-made lakes that just add to the attraction of this glorious Italian city. Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2008, Mantua is a living testament to the powerful Gonzaga family who ruled the city and surrounding towns during the Renaissance.

 

With breath taking architecture, religious sites, palaces, summer houses, villas and even an 11th century Rotunda, visitors have an up close and personal chance to get an idea what life must have been like under the rule of the Gonzaga family during the Renaissance. Much of the extension of the city is owed to the Gonzaga family who had a pinnacle role to play.

 

The family were pioneers in the conservation and promotion of the arts and culture, and the city played host to many a famous artist, composer and musician in its heyday, and Mantua is indelibly linked with the history of opera. The family’s opulent home, the Palazzo Ducale, is an extravagant estate, boasting more than 500 rooms with a massive complex of gardens, courtyards and gardens, and complete with frescoes painted by Mantega in 1474.

 

Right in the heart of the city brings you to the piazzas, where some of the most beautiful buildings can be found. Four impressive squares converge to create the city centre, with Piazza Sordello possibly the most majestic. Each piazza seems to have at least one most-magnificent building, so lovers of architecture will be awed by the examples of Palazzo Vescovile, Torre della Gabia (Cage Tower), the Tazi Nuvolari Museum in the Palazzo del Podesta, Rotunda di San Lorenzo, and the clock tower in the Palazzo della Ragione. Of course, no Italian city worth its salt is without a stunner in the church department, and in Mantua the finest examples are the Duomo and the Basilica Sant’Andrea.

 

Winding around the squares are cobbled streets filled with bustling sidewalk cafes and excellent restaurants. This is where visitors have a chance to experience the other big attraction of Mantua – the food and wine.

 

Northern Italian cuisine is all in a class of its own, and Lombardy is known for a region that is famous for its typical country dishes, like risotto and freshly made filled pasta. A favourite on the menu is tortelli pasta stuffed with pumpkin topped with the special local delicacy – shaved white truffles. Washed down with a mouthful of the region’s most popular, the Lambrusco Mantovano DOC, which comes from the local vineyards just to the north of the city, it makes the perfect taste of Mantua and Lombardy.

 

The city’s River Mincio provides other popular local dishes – shrimps and freshwater pike but, the predominant factor here is that all Mantuan cuisine is prepared with serious care, and only the freshest, seasonal and simple ingredients are used.

 

Family run restaurants seeped in traditions can be found everywhere, from the humble bakery to the elaborate world class restaurants. The atmosphere and the friendly charisma pervade all eateries in Mantua, and spills onto the sidewalk tables and chairs. Families that run restaurants do so with a serious passion for food, and the preservation of local culinary history, often bringing old, traditional recipes back to life.

 

So if you are visiting the city, even for just a few days, put on those walking shoes or pick up a bicycle and cruise the cobbled streets like a local, with surroundings that will whisk you right back into time.

 

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by Janice on Emilia Delizia

We had a wonderful tour, best part about visiting the Modena region!

by Bing Liem on Emilia Delizia
Emilia Delizia

The tour was perfect. I think Paolo would be a splendid ambassador for Italy in the EU. He knows how excellent Italian food and eating together can solve many major problems, and can stop aggressive behavior. Not the hunt for more money, but the well being of family and friends counts. Paolo shows us the products of ages of civilization and he did this like an artist. So after the tour we really love Italia more and we'll come back. We will call you Paolo, Thanks!

by Avihai on Emilia Delizia

Following two tours with your guides this week I would like to express my thanks for some wonderful experiences.
Monday we did the tour of cheese making, balsamic and Salami which was very good and the guide Paolo was very knowledgeable.
The truffle hunt tour today was absolutely amazing, the guide Stefano is pure gold and the tour was built with much thought. Our best experience so far, by far.

Looking forward to more tours and fun next time we are in Italy.

by Johnathan on Emilia Delizia
Super food and super cars

The group (and me) was VERY satisfied. We really enjoyed the Parmegiano Regiano which was interesting and we got to buy some delicate and cheap cheese, the same with the balsamico. The Ferrari driving was off course an experience for life. The Winery lunch felt very genuine and the people there was really welcoming and nice people. The genuine feeling there was however the big plus for us.
Paolo was excellent as our guide. He also felt very genuine. He did not talk just for the sake of talking, but when he had something to say he did it in a respectful and nice way. Everyone in the group really liked him.

Thank you!

by Susan on Emilia Delizia
Lovely food tour and cooking class

Hi Gabriele:

I wanted to let you know what a great day we had this past Friday on our tour with Jacamo. (Probably not spelling it right) He was very nice and explained everything to us. It sure gives you a new appreciation when you are slicing cheese. 🙂 Our tour ended with him taking us to the vineyard for a tour and lunch and there, Paolo, the owner could not have been more nicer. It was a perfect ending.

Please let Jacamo know what a great job he did and how much we really appreciated it and his knowledge

by Simone&Vasco on Emilia Delizia
Food tour in Modena

The website is well structured and we received a prompt answer to all questions. Gabriele supported us with all information we needed and the organization before the trip was excellent.
We had an air conditioned van, which was very relaxing through the whole tour. The first stop was the parmigiano production, which was very impressive and interesting. We could learn and especially see all the different steps and even taste the various aged parmigiano. The second step was the balsamic vinegar tasting. Finally the meat part was interesting in the museum but we hoped that we also could see more about the production and their work, but the tasting was delicious. In overall we had a very informative and well accommodated half day with our guide

by Kimie on Emilia Delizia
Fantastic Tour!!

It was great experience! We visited Parmesan cheese production, Balsamic vinegar farm, Ham museum and Farmer's lunch. Our guide gave us a detailed explanation, we were very satisfied. An excellent tour for a reasonable price, highly recommended.

by Shirley on Emilia Delizia
Gourmet tour

Nous sommes une famille de cinq et nous avons adoré notre expérience. Les trois endroits étaient choisis judicieusement. Notre guide était très généreuse et super gentille. Nous recommandons ce tour ( parmesan, vinaigre balsamique et jambon de parme).

by Jennifer S. on Emilia Delizia
Tour Extraordinaire!

My family felt our first trip to Italy must include a tour of a Parmesan Cheese Factory so when I stumbled on this website several months ago I had no idea what I treasure I found! From the moment I submitted a request for the tour, my experience with Emilia Delizia was first rate. Gabriele provided excellent customer service by patiently answering all my questions to guide me through the selection and reservation of our Foodie Delight Tour. Paolo, our driver, was prompt, cordial and knowledgeable about the processes we were observing and the area in general conveying loads of information with his well-developed English speaking skills. Our stop in Modena fell on a Saturday so we were quite fortunate to end up with a private tour which allowed us to have a nice, personal interaction with the people at each site. Everyone was friendly, generous with the tastings and we never felt rushed to move along to the next location. Now that we have returned to the states, my family agrees this tour was a highlight of our 10 day trip. I was really looking forward to this excursion and am glad to report it exceeded my expectations.

by Roy on Emilia Delizia
Ferrari test Drive

Unbelievable!!! Totally recommend the full hour to anyone and was more than I expected.
I also want to recognize Alex Pignone who accompanied me,He was very professional and extremely knowledgeable and made me feel like I have known Him forever and where two friends out for a cruise.
Thank You for allowing me to get one more item off my bucket list.

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