Italian comune and city

Mantua (Italian: Mantova; Lombard and Latin: Mantua) is a comune (municipality) in the Italian region of Lombardy, and capital of the province of the same name.

Aerial view of Mantua




  • I found that Mantua, even apart from her great place in the movement of Humanism, in the art of the Renaissance, had really been under these Gonzaga, Lords of Mantua—this their title from first to last—the central pivot of north Italian history; that she held her place, both in culture and political importance, beside Milan, Venice, Rome and even Florence; that in writing this story of the Gonzaga I came near to writing that of Italy if not of Europe. ... I have tried ... to clothe those dry bones of History with something of their living reality. ... I have even sometimes seemed to myself to be present in the scenes I have pictured—on summer nights to have heard the music of the lute and girlish laughter when Isabella sat with Elisabetta Gonzaga in her “Paradiso” above the lakes of Mantua; to have been beside her Lord Francesco in that press and fury of conflict on the banks of Taro; to have seen her yet again, a queen and mother, among those terror-stricken fugitives in the Palazzo Colonna at Rome; to have followed poor Crichton in that last midnight stroll beneath the dark arcaded streets of old Mantua; or within the vast Reggia to have heard the whispered voices, the hurried steps of courtiers when Duke Vincenzo, last of his line, was nearing his end.


  • Primus Idumaeas referam tibi, Mantua, palmas,
    Et viridi in campo templum de marmore ponam
    Propter aquam. Tardis ingens ubi flexibus errat
    Mincius et tenera praetexit arundine ripas.
  • I, Mantua, first will bring thee back the palms
    Of Idumaea, and raise a marble shrine
    On thy green plain fast by the water-side,
    Where Mincius winds more vast in lazy coils,
    And rims his margent with the tender reed.
    • Virgil, Eclogues, III, 1, 12–15
  • Fatidicæ Mantus et Tusci filius amnis,
    Qui muros matrisque dedit tibi, Mantua, nomen.
  • Next Ocnus summoned forth
    A war-host from his native shores, the son
    Of Tiber, Tuscan river, and the nymph
    Manto, a prophetess: he gave good walls,
    O Mantua, and his mother's name, to thee,—
    To Mantua so rich in noble sires,
    But of a blood diverse, a triple breed,
    Four stems in each; and over all enthroned
    She rules her tribes: her strength is Tuscan born.
  • Above in beauteous Italy lies a lake
      At the Alp’s foot that shuts in Germany
      Over Tyrol, and has the name Benaco.
    By a thousand springs, I think, and more, is bathed,
      ’Twixt Garda and Val Camonica, Pennino,
      With water that grows stagnant in that lake.
    Midway a place is where the Trentine Pastor,
      And he of Brescia, and the Veronese
      Might give his blessing, if he passed that way.
    Sitteth Peschiera, fortress fair and strong,
      To front the Brescians and the Bergamasks,
      Where round about the bank descendeth lowest.
    There of necessity must fall whatever
      In bosom of Benaco cannot stay,
      And grows a river down through verdant pastures.
    Soon as the water doth begin to run,
      No more Benaco is it called, but Mincio,
      Far as Governo, where it falls in Po.
    Not far it runs before it finds a plain
      In which it spreads itself, and makes it marshy,
      And oft ’tis wont in summer to be sickly.
    Passing that way the virgin pitiless
      Land in the middle of the fen descried,
      Untilled and naked of inhabitants;
    There to escape all human intercourse,
      She with her servants stayed, her arts to practise
      And lived, and left her empty body there.
    The men, thereafter, who were scattered round,
      Collected in that place, which was made strong
      By the lagoon it had on every side;
    They built their city over those dead bones,
      And, after her who first the place selected,
      Mantua named it, without other omen.
    Its people once within more crowded were,
      Ere the stupidity of Casalodi
      From Pinamonte had received deceit.
    Therefore I caution thee, if e’er thou hearest
      Originate my city otherwise,
      No falsehood may the verity defraud.”
    • Dante Alighieri, Inferno, XX, 61–99 (tr. H. W. Longfellow)
      • The lake Benaco or Benacus] Now called the Lago di Garda, though here said to lie between Garda, Val Camonica, and the Apennine, is, however, very distant from the latter two.
      • Midway a place is] Prato di Fame, where the dioceses of Trento, Verona, and Brescia met.
      • Peschiera] A garrison situated to the south of the lake, where it empties itself and forms the Mincius.
  • ROMEO:
    I do remember an apothecary—
    And hereabouts he dwells—whom late I noted
    In tattered weeds, with overwhelming brows,
    Culling of simples. Meagre were his looks;
    Sharp misery had worn him to the bones;
    And in his needy shop a tortoise hung,
    An alligator stuff’d, and other skins
    Of ill-shap’d fishes; and about his shelves
    A beggarly account of empty boxes,
    Green earthen pots, bladders, and musty seeds,
    Remnants of packthread, and old cakes of roses,
    Were thinly scatter’d to make up a show.
    Noting this penury, to myself I said,
    And if a man did need a poison now—
    Whose sale is present death in Mantua—
    Here lives a caitiff wretch would sell it him.
    O, this same thought did but forerun my need;
    And this same needy man must sell it me.
    As I remember, this should be the house;
    Being holiday, the beggar’s shop is shut.—
    What, ho! apothecary!
  •   At Mantua in chains
        The gallant Hofer lay,
      In Mantua to death
        Led him the foe away;
    His brothers’ hearts bled for the chief,
    For Germany disgrace and grief
      And Tyrol’s mountain land!
      His hands behind him clasped,
        With firm and measured pace,
      Marched Andrew Hofer on;
        He feared not death to face,
    Death whom from Iselberg aloft
    Into the vale he sent so oft
      In Tyrol’s holy land.
      But when from dungeon-grate,
        In Mantua’s stronghold,
      Their hands on high he saw
        His faithful brothers hold,
    “O God be with you all!” he said,
    “And with the German realm betrayed,
      And Tyrol’s holy land!”
      The drummer’s hand refused
        To beat the solemn march,
      While Andrew Hofer passed
        The portal’s gloomy arch;
    In fetters shackled, yet so free,
    There on the bastion stood he,
      Brave Tyrol’s gallant son.
      They bade him then kneel down,
        He answered, “I will not!
      Here standing will I die,
        As I have stood and fought,
    As now I tread this bulwark’s bank,
    Long life to my good Kaiser Frank,
      And, Tyrol, hail to thee!”
      A grenadier then took
        The bandage from his hand,
      While Hofer spoke a prayer
        His last on earthly land.
    “Mark well!” he with loud voice exclaimed,
    “Now fire! Ah! ’t was badly aimed!
      O Tyrol, fare thee well!”
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