Mantua and Trent

Well, we are getting ready to hit the road (the one that leads to the airport) soon, so I figured if I had anything further to say about last fall’s trip to Northern Italy, now is the time to say it.

My last post was about the city of Verona. Although it was a lovely city, it was a bit crowded, so when we had the choice of spending another day in Verona, or going on an optional trip to Mantua, we (and everyone else on our tour) opted for the optional, and we were glad we did.

Yes, Mantua had the requisite castle, with beautiful frescoes, but the castle also had something I’d never seen before — a moat with lovely sculptures plopped in it. Were they ballerina or fairy costumes? I have no idea; either one works for me.

Mantua also had the mandatory clock tower, but this one was so beautiful, I felt compelled to include two photos of it- the one below to give you a sense of its placement and scale, and the one atop this post to show the beautiful craftsmanship. Just think how amazing it must have been before the frescoes were damaged.

Can you tell this tower has been repaired more than once?

Like other cities, Mantua has an object, which, if rubbed, promises thAt the rub-ee will grant the rub-er good luck. In Verona, it is Juliet’s right breast. In Mantua, it is Rigoletto’s hump. We avoided the fake Juliet balcony and statue, but we ladies couldn’t resist Rigoletto.

What was MOST memorable to me, however, was the “relic” in the Basilica of Saint Andrew. According to the plaque, the soldier that stabbed Christ (Who later became a saint –Longino– but not all that popular, because I’d never heard of him before. Had you?) was prescient enough to know that the blood soaked earth was worth preserving, so he did. For thousands of years. Quite a story, and I’ll leave it at that.

The legend
The relic repository
The artist’s interpretation of the event

Our next stop was Trento, the site of the Council of Trent, where Catholic bishops got together and did something important that I learned about in high school but have since forgotten. Here too, we encountered a magnificent cathedral. Could this be The Stairway to Heaven that Led Zeppelin sang about? Take a look. It sure doesn’t seem to lead anywhere else. If you took a tumble from the top, Heaven may be where you’d land, but probably only if you went to confession first.

Right outside the church, beside Neptune’s fountain, it was quite festive. Lots of young people holding flowers and plaques, wearing laurel wreaths on their heads were milling about.

Our group is nothing, if not astute. We immediately figured this was some kind of commencement celebration. I’ll tell ya, if I had been given the choice, I definitely would have gone with the laurel wreath instead of the mortarboard monstrosity we had to put on our heads.

If this cold weather continues, I may get it together to do one final post: the last days of our trip in the Dolomites and Alpine villages. Ciao!