Day 207: MantuaSeptember 9, 2017 in Italy
Next stop, Mantua. On the road at the usual time, heading south of Verona to the small city of Mantua. This is fairly similar to Verona, only it's not as touristy and was never part of the Venetian republic. For centuries it was ruled by the Gonzaga family, and as a result it's got quite a unified look and layout.
So we drove down and found a park, then commenced wandering. We basically went south to north through the city, looking at all the buildings and architecture. Lots of people around as it was a busy Saturday, and there was a literary festival of some sort happening. Not so many tourists here by the looks of it, certainly compared to Verona!
A few highlights included the 11th-century rotunda of San Lorenzo, a circular chapel that had essentially been covered over by other buildings and only recently re-exposed. It's noticeably lower than the surrounding street levels! Also had a look at the Palazzo Ducale which was the grand residence of the dukes who lived here. No inside access for us, sadly, as of course no dogs are allowed inside.
The whole area is a world heritage site so we did our filming and kept wandering, though I found myself a lot less taken with the place. Not quite sure why - it's just not as visually arresting as Verona I guess, though it did feel a little more authentic. Still lots of buildings where you can see Renaissance-era frescoes painted around the outside, fading in the sun.
Had lunch at a busy cafe on the pedestrian mall where we both had tortelli, a local speciality. It's similar to tortellini but filled with sweet pumpkin, topped with olive oil and parmesan. Very delicious.
More wandering looking at churches and old buildings, before we eventually got tired and headed back to the car, via Palazzo Te which was built outside the walls as the summer house for the duke. These days of course it's completely surrounded by the city. Again we couldn't go inside, and there was some literary event happening anyway so we wouldn't have seen much.
Back home fairly early, around 4pm, where we settled in and got a bunch of work done including finalising our itinerary for the rest of September. After Venice we'll head east across to Koper in Slovenia and hire another car for the rest of the month. We'll explore that part of Slovenia, then head to Ljubljana the capital around the 20th for about 5 nights. Then the last five nights we'll head to the north-west of Slovenia and Lake Bled, where we'll meet up with Shandos's parents.
Another big thunderstorm late in the evening!Read more