Sabbioneta, the Gonzaga family’s perfect city


It lies like a jewel in a large inlet drawn by the Po. It’s Sabbioneta, the ideal city, which stands as a testimony of the highly-artistic Renaissance city planning in the province of Mantua. Because of its wealth, Sabbioneta was elected UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2008, together with Mantua. Its classical beauty has earned it the name Little Athens of the Padana Valley, and the American lawyer and writer Richard Paul Roe argues that Shakespeare’s play “Dream of a Midsummer Night” was set here and not in Athens.

In the frame of Sabbioneta’s amazing city-planning, enclosed by ancient walls that are still intact, the soul of the military and residential city reveals itself, with the Renaissance rural court which is  overlooked by the traditional entrances to the city, Victory gate and Imperial gate (the oldest) covered in white marble. And then Palazzo Ducale, Palazzo Giardino, Teatro all’Antica (the first theater built in Europe which is not derived from pre-existing structures), Galleria degli Antichi, preserve fresco ornaments and carved-wood ceilings. Sabbioneta also houses a beautiful synagogue and a Jewish neighborhood that was inhabited for five years. The golden age of this village among the most beautiful in Italy dates back to Duke Vespasiano Gonzaga, who between 1556 and 1591 transformed it from an agricultural center into the ideal city. The great ideas of the ruling family link Sabbioneta to the nearby city of Mantua in architectural and artistic excellence.

If you decide to visit Mantua and Sabbioneta you will not resist also other types of treasures: flavors and crafts have interesting and pleasant surprises in store for you. Here you can taste products such as pumpkin ravioli, cake sbrisolona (which in Sabbioneta is made “the old way”, namely with hazelnuts instead of almonds and whole wheat flour instead of corn flour), biscuits “Filos”, homemade biscuits produced in several variants with lard and mint, or chocolate pralines. Their name is associated with the ending of the day in the old rural culture. Other delicacies include cold cuts and cheese, accompanied by local wine Lambrusco, sorbir of lambs (bouillon with a type of ravioli), or donkey stew.

L’artigianato locale si esprime nella ceramica graffita mantovana e negli stralci di affresco. Per gli appassionati di mercatini d’antiquariato, a Sabbioneta ogni prima domenica del mese, con esclusione di gennaio e agosto, si può passeggiare tra le bancarelle del mercatino del piccolo antiquariato, oppure visitare la rinomata Mostra mercato dell’antiquariato.

Local arts and crafts is expressed in graffiti ceramics and in fresco excerpts. For antique markets lovers, on the first Sunday of each month (except January and August) in Sabbioneta you can wander through the stalls of antiques, or visit the renowned antiques Market/Show.

Sweet Dreams – Our selection of palaces, mansions and boutique hotels:

Torre di Palazzo CastiglioniPalazzo Castiglioni – Piazza Sordello 12, Mantova (MN)

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