Here’s some of what the Lonely Planet – Italy chapter on Lombardy and the Lakes has to say about Mantua (Mantova):
“Serene and beautiful, Mantua lies on the shores of Lago Superiore, Lago di Mezzo and Lago Inferiore. Unlike the pre-Alpine and Alpine Lombard lakes further north, Mantua is on the open plain, and its trio of lakes is actually a glorified widening of the river Mincio.
Mantua was settled by the Etruscans in the 10th century BC and prospered under Roman rule. Latin poet Virgil was born just outside the modern town in 70 BC. The city fell into the hands of the Gonzaga dynasty in 1328, under whose rule it flourished, attracting the likes of Petrarch and Rubens. Shakespeare’s Romeo found his fateful poison in a Mantuan apothecary.
The golden days of ‘La Gloriosa’ ceased when Austria took control in 1708. Habsburg troops were in control (aside from the Napoleonic interlude at the end of the 18th and early 19th centuries) until 1866, when Mantua joined a newly united Italy.
Superb architecture bears witness to the city’s rich history, particularly around its four interconnected, cobbled old town squares. It so impressed Unesco that it became Italy’s 42nd World Heritage site in 2008.”
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