Mantua is a cultural hotspot with a population of around 50,000 in Lombardy, northern Italy, perhaps best known as the place to which Romeo was banished in Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. Did you know it was also the birthplace of the poet Virgil in 70BC? Beginning in the 14th century, the town was ruled for 300 years by the Gonzaga family, who were, like the Medici family in Florence, enthusiastic patrons of the arts, and across the town, you can find plenty of well-preserved Medieval and Renaissance places of worship, palaces and villas – and many centrally located Mantua holiday apartments. Among the must-sees are Palazzo Te, Palazzo Ducale, Basicila di Sant'Andrea, Bibiena Theatre and the Duomo. The entire city is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the centre is compact, made up of narrow streets and interconnecting squares that are best explored on foot, and without hurrying. Don't miss the chance to see the beautiful Mantua skyline, one of the town's most romantic sights, particularly at sunset: a villa Mantua makes a perfect holiday for couples.
The Lombardy region produces many great wines, both red and white, and cheeses too. Feel even more like a local in your villa Mantua and try your hand at some local cooking – cucina mantovana – which incorporates salami, pasta, stews and braised meat, fish and game.
You'll feel spoilt for choice trying to pick a holiday destination in Lombardy, but if you need more inspiration, look at our villas and apartments in historical Pavia, chic Milan, or charming Lecco on Lake Como?