The route of mantuan wines and tastes
Throughout the province in the areas of wine production Mantua
The territory of the mantuan province wedges itself in Veneto and in Emilia and it looks, beyond the common thought, various and interesting. You go therefore from the hilly north close to Lake Garda to the plains, whose abundance of water creates a pleasant river- and lake-landscape.
Thanks to its geographical position between north and south, but also between east and west our territory keeps big evidence of its glorious past.
Its history goes, indeed, from the Etruscans to the Romans, from the fruitful Middle Ages (Matilde of Canossa and the Benedectines) to the Gonzaga duchy, which left its mark on the whole territory, from the National Independence Wars to the peasant-struggles, whose exploit contributed to have things in such a way that mantuan agriculture is at present in the van of progress. The bent for agriculture has created a cookery that, thanks to a well-chosen intuition, has been defined «of principles and of people»: workmanship of the fruits of the soil and inventiveness, though dictated at times by need, have raised mantuan hospitality to a very high level.
In this context we can’t forget wine that, in spite of its recent tradition, has already achieved a high quality degree. This is due to the zeal of the sector operators who have realized together with other people the "Route of the mantuan wines and tastes".
The Route meanders across the whole provincial territory concentrating but in the production areas of mantuan wines: the Alto Mantovano area among the morainic hills and the Basso Mantovano area both on the right and on the left banks of the river Po.
e Alto Mantovano is a land of famous battles, the most important of which was the Risorgimento battle of Solferino and San Martino, and it is where the cultures of Venetia and Lombardy meet. The mantuan morainic hills lie in the strip of land bordering on the provinces of Brescia and Verona at a stone’s throw from Lake Garda. The river Mincio, which rises in this lake, runs through the area. Gentle slopes and little valleys create a soft and rolling landscape, where fortifications and castles raise among the cypresses. The geographical conformation, the mild and breezy climate created by the lake and the morainic clay soil are ideal for vines. The area’s long viticultural tradition, now raisen to a high quality, has also drawn on the fine winemaking experience of the neighbouring provinces of Brescia and Verona. Exchanging knowledge, techniques and vines have increased the wines’quality, especially after the replanting in the wake of the vine disease that struck in the nineteenth century. At present, over a thousand of hectars of quality vineyards cover the hills of the districts of Ponti sul Mincio, Monzambano, Volta Mantovana, Cavriana, Solferino and Castiglione delle Stiviere. The wine “Garda Colli Mantovani” was classified “D.O.C.” in 1976 and 1997, while the wine “Garda D.O.C.” was classified “D.O.C.” in 1996.
In the strip of land which follows the course of the Po the centuries-old winemaking tradition and experience of Lambrusco Mantovano go back to the times of the first Benedictine monasteries. Suffice it to say that the monks living at Polirone, which is an imposing conventual whole better known as “the Cassino of the North”, made the tenants of their Oltre Po properties pay part of the rent in wine. Even in the Renaissance barrels of mantuan wine used to be sent to Germany. So, the plains on the right bank of the Po have always been the realm of Lambrusco Mantovano, the «wine of tradition» that emigrants took with them to South America at the turn of the last century and that appeared at the same time on the tables of New York’s Waldorf Astoria. Since it has been classified “D.O.C.” in 1987, with a consequent quality jump, this wine has taken the way to Europe and to the United States again.
It can be rightly considered the wine banner of the Basso Mantovano area on both banks of the Po and a considerable enhancer of the quality of life, too.It is produced in two distinct areas that are separated by the Po: Oltre Po Mantovano on the right bank and Viadanese-Sabbionetano on the left bank. On the Route, that concerns tastes too, you will find farmhouses and restaurants proposing traditional as well as innovative cookery. That’s why many mantuan restaurants are mentioned in the lists of the most prestigious wine- and gastronomicguides. Moreover, in our restaurants you can have proof of the typical mantuan hospitality, made of wholesome food, good drinking, art, history and culture, which our province is particularly rich in. I vini e i prodotti tipici mantovani On the hill-way we draw your attention to the Aloisiano Museum, the Cathedral and the Red Cross Museum in Castiglione delle Stiviere; the Alto Mantovano Archeologic Museum at Mirra-Siliprandi villa and the Romanesque parish in Cavriana; the castle’s walls and San Michele parish in Monzambano; Castellaro Lagusello medieval village, where the traditional Grapes Feast takes place on the third Sunday of September; another castle of the twelfth century and the sixteenth- century-San Nicolò parish with the coeval oratory in Ponti sul Mincio; the Rocca(1022), a fortress that commands a view over the valley below and that was considered for its strategic position “the Spy of Italy” during the Risorgimento War; now it is the seat of an important Museum of the Risorgimento and it lies together with Gonzaga Cavriani Palace and Venier Villa in Volta Mantovana giro dei caratteristici borghi collinari. Last but not least, the Regional Mincio Park that follows the course of the river from its sources to its mouth. Worth mentioning is Fontana Forest too, in which stand secular trees and a hunting lodge of the Gonzaga family. There are also Bertone Park and the Regional Oglio Sud Park with the natural reserve of Bine. In the nearby of the mouth of the Mincio into the Po there is a very old pontoon bridge.
Following the Route you get to Mantua, where you can have a sight-seeing tour of the town: Ducal Palace, Te Palace, Mantegna’s House, Diocesan Museum and many other monuments. In the Basso Mantovano area the Route goes on to Viadanese strip of land on the left bank of the Po and to Oltre Po strip of land on its right bank.
Viadana is the biggest district in the province. There you can visit the parish church of Santa Maria in Castello and its paintings of the sixteenth and seventeenth century, the Town Hall (1752), the ex-Monte di Pietà Palace, where stands the library and the Municipal Museum, the baroque church of Santa Maria Annunziata (1626) with woodcarving and Serassi organ. Do not forget to make a stop in Sabbioneta, Vespasiano Gonzaga’s little Athens.
In the Oltre Po territory the Benedictines’settling down in San Benedetto Po is still witnessed by their draining work, by Polirone conventual whole, which is still in a good state, and by Giulio Romano’s basilica. At present, the monastery is the seat of the Municipal Polirone Museum, where documents of the monastery and witnesses of the country life are collected.In Quistello stands the Greek cross-shaped church of San Bartolomeo of the eighteenth century, while in the hamlet of Nuvolato there is the Romanesque church of San Fiorentino.Poggio Rusco, like all border-villages, was fortified by the Gonzaga family and the ancient palace, which was built by Luca Fancelli, is now the municipal seat.At last, the Route goes back to Mantua passing through Revere on the right bank of the Po, where stands Luca Fancelli’s Ducal Palace(1451-1458), and through Otiglia on the left bank of the river which is of Roman origin and Cornelio Nepote’s birth-place.
We would like to thank Associazione Strada dei Vini e dei Sapori Mantovani