Another travel day. Now I remember why I love “Slow Travel,” but this really wasn’t bad at all.
The breakfast at Hotel Cervetta 5 was fine, with a special moment. We met a young couple from LA, two professional musicians, and talked with them for a long time. Then we went for a nice walk about around town, revisiting the Piazza Grande, the market, and the San Francesco church:
Took a taxi to the train station and boarded for the ride to Mantova, about an hour and 10 minutes due north and into Lombardia. Our host picked us up at the station and took us on a driving tour of the city. First impression is that it’s very atmospheric, especially in the foggy day. The bricks are dark and there is a ton of restoration happening all over. We rented this place through Booking.com as a B&B, but it is really a studio apartment with a small kitchen. Luigino, the host, couldn’t be nicer. He explained so much to us about the history of Mantova and the sweets they seem to love here. I think they take their baked goods pretty seriously.
We set out to wander around town, passed through a beautiful garden, went into a small show of contemporary art somehow connected with the Ducal Palace.
We lingered a while in the piazza in front of the ducal palace.
And walked on, passing bakeries and cafes:
We finally went into the Basilica San Andrea, built in the mid 1400’s. It is covered with trompe l’oile paining so it looks like it is carved all over.
In the center of the church is a raised octagon. It is just over the altar in the crypt, below the church where it is said that St. Longinus hid his precious soil soaked in the blood of Jesus, first discovered in 804! The is a long legend which I found fascinating. But the paintings of the main church were stunning.
Dinner was at Due Cavallini and we loved it. We ate the typical food of Mantova–agnoli (small, round, meat-stuffed pasta) in a rich chicken broth and mixed roasted meats for me. Ken had pasta with beans and stinco (pork shank) and we shared a plate of mixed vegetables. We drank a Lambrusco from Parma and it all seemed to work well together.
So far so good here in Mantova!