A highlight of LA BELLA VITA's Italian river cruise is a visit to the Lombardy city of Mantua. It is known by Italians as "La Bella Addormentata" (Sleeping Beauty). Surrounded by artificial lakes created to fortify the city in the Middle Ages, the city has been relatively untouched by modern development. Its old town was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2007 in recognition of its Renaissance town planning.
Mantua is dominated by the Palazzo Ducale de Mantova, or the Ducal Palace. This colossal complex of rooms, towers, churches and gardens was the residence of the powerful Gonzaga family for 400 years. They ruled as the Dukes of Mantua until 1707. At 34,000m², the only residence in Italy that can claim to be larger is the Vatican. The guided tour on La Bella Vita's Classic Cruise gives you the opportunity to explore beautiful Baroque and neo-classical buildings, such as the following historical gems…
The Corte Vecchia is the oldest part of the complex. From it you can access the Palazzo del Capitano, linked to the Magna Domus around the year 1300 with a beautiful arcade. In the same century, a series of stunning Arthurian frescos glorifying the serving duke, Gianfrancesco Gonzaga, was painted by Pisanello. In the 1960s these incredible 700-year old paintings were rediscovered and fragments of the frescos and their preliminary drawings can still be seen in the palace.
Another impressive room in the palace complex is the Camera Picta (Painted Room), also known as the Bridal Chamber. The walls are the canvas for a Renaissance masterpiece by Andrea Mantegna, painted between 1465 and 1474, which depicts the triumphs of the whole Gonzaga family. Make sure you raise your eyes to the ceiling, where you’ll see one of the earliest examples of an illusionistic di sotto in sù painting; an oculus (opening in the dome) reveals a blue sky with cherubs playing around its rim.
Isabella d’Este’s Studiolo
Isabella d’Este, who was Marchesa of Mantua around the turn of the sixteenth century, is known as the First Lady of the Renaissance. Her studiolo in the palace – a place to display and enjoy her collection of antiques, paintings and books – was a Renaissance retreat from the outside world. It has unfortunately lost all of its treasures to museums, but still boasts beautiful dark blue, starry walls.
With so much more to see and experience at the Palazzo Ducale, art and architecture lovers will savour this fascinating segment of La Bella Vita's Italian river cruise.
La Bella Vita
La Bella Vita is a stylish 20-passenger vessel with a typically modern Italian interior, reflected in the use of vibrant colors throughout to create an atmosphere of casual relaxation. There is an inviting bar area in which to enjoy a glass of Prosecco and a spacious dining room with louvre doors that open to give a perfect view as you are served delicious Italian specialities and wines.
There are two main deck junior suites and eight lower deck staterooms, all air-conditioned and with en suite facilities. The upper deck has a huge sun deck with a large canopy and comfortable loungers to relax and watch the world drift by.
Enjoy delicious regional cuisine, fine Italian wines and the services of an attentive crew that will make this an unforgettable cruise.
La Bella Vita offers 6-night, all-inclusive private charters, as well as cabin cruises. Themed cruises such as family, golf, opera, and wine appreciation are available for private charters.
- Learn More: Online Brochure
- Route: Venice, the Islands of the Venetian Lagoon, the Bianca Canal and the Po Valley
- Up to 20 guests
- Private charters and Cabin cruises
- Itineraries: Standard classic, Family, Golf, Opera, Wine appreciation
- Special offers for solo travellers: Click here
View La Bella Vita's online brochure
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