Tourists arriving from Lake Garda are pleasantly surprised when they approach what is supposedly a low-lying province as they find themselves in the heart of a hilly area. However, when moving on to the plain area they find small villages and towns scattered here and there against a backdrop of solitary farmsteads and the high walls of narrow fortified hamlets. Cavriana, with the medieval Parish Church and ancient hamlet, the remains of the castles of Ponti sul Mincio andMonzambano, the small village of Castellaro Lagusello, the sixteenth-century Palazzo Comunale at Volta Montovana, Solferinoand Castiglione delle Stiviere, home to the International Red Cross Museum, all bear witness to the rich history of this land, which was fiercely contended by the most important noble families of Northern Italy up until the time of the Gonzaga family of Mantua, who left their monumental heritage all over the province. The flat land between the Oglio and Po rivers is teeming with hamlets, fortresses, castles and monumental gates. Pomponesco, Viadana, Rivarolo Mantovano, Bozzolo and Sabbioneta, the ideal city of Vespasiano Gonzaga, with its beautiful stately homes and one of the most ancient theatres in the entire world; Commessagio, Gazzuolo and Mantua with its splendid artistic and historical marvels. The lands of Matilde di Canossa and the Oltrepò area are by no means less picturesque. To name but a few attractions: San Benedetto Po with its monastic complex and the Museum of the Po Plain Popular Culture and the Parish Churches of San Lorenzo at Pegognaga, Gonzaga, Quistello and Pieve di Coriano.
For nature lovers the province offers trails in two regional parks and a dozen environment protected areas. Mantua has unquestionable charm combined with an inimitable gastronomic tradition, boasting one of the most savoury and refined cuisines of the area. In fact, the itinerary for the Road of Mantuan Rice and Risotti starts right here.
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