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158km (98 miles) E of Milan, 62km (38 miles) N of Parma, 150km (93 miles) SW of Venice

One of Lombardy’s best-kept secrets is in the eastern reaches of the region, making it an easy side trip from Milan. Like its neighboring cities in Emilia-Romagna, Mantua owes its beautiful Renaissance monuments to one family, in this case the Gonzagas, who conquered the city in 1328 and ruled benevolently until 1707. They were avid collectors of art and ruled through the greatest centuries of Italian art; encounter the treasures they collected in the massive Palazzo Ducale; in their summer retreat, the Palazzo Te; and in the churches and piazzas that grew up around their court.

 

At the time of writing, the Palazzo Ducale, the Galleria Museo Palazzo Valenti Gonzaga, and other monuments are undergoing restoration, while Mantegna’s famous Camera degli Sposi is perhaps permanently closed following earthquake damage in 2012.