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Sharing more in common with Ferrara in Romagna than its Lombard cohorts, Mantua (Mantova) is a city protected by lakes, anchored by Unesco-listed Renaissance architecture and coloured by a history that resounds to the daring, sometimes despotic deeds of one family: the House of Gonzaga. Reigning for 400 years from the early 14th to 18th centuries, the Gonzaga made Mantua a centre of the Renaissance, commissioned several massive palaces, and cemented power by intermarrying with the powerful d’Este clan of Ferrara. Much of the city today was built in their image.

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