As serene as the three lakes it sits beside, Mantua (Mantova) is home to sumptuous ducal palaces and a string of atmospheric cobbled squares. Settled by the Etruscans in the 10th century, it has long been prosperous. The Latin poet Virgil was born just outside the modern town in 70 BC, Shakespeare's Romeo heard of Juliet's death here and Verdi set his tragic, 19th-century opera, Rigoletto, in its melancholy fog-bound streets.
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