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August 28, 2011

Out and About!

We have been away on a little holiday, just at the time when we were having a heatwave here in Italy.  Two weeks of temperatures up around 100 degrees made travelling a little challenging.  However at our first stop here in Mantova (Mantua, Lombardy) we were able to walk through the cool halls of the gigantic Palazzo Ducale in the heart of the city, the home to the Dukes of Mantova, the Ganzaga family, who ruled the region for 4 centuries.

The most famous frescoes in the old part of the palace (Castel San Giorgio) were painted by Andrea Mantegna, and they depict the Ganzaga family in all their pomp and colourful authority.  The colours and detail of the figures so fresh and vibrant you can see the emotions of all the individual figures in the depicted scenes.  The frescoes also show roles and status of each of the individual members in their vestments and their postures – quite remarkable.

Mantova lies on a headland that stands at the point of 3 artificially created lakes from the 12th century, made from damming the waters of the river Mincio that flows down from Lake Garda.  There are also some lovely squares in the town and also a rather attractive round church.  The picture shows the grand Piazza Sordello.

This is Lago Iseo (I know we hadn’t heard of it either until recently).  However, this is the smaller sister to Como, Maggiore and Garda.  The Italians must have heard of it because they had packed the place for day trips and annual holidays, mainly I suspect, from Brescia and Milan.  There is nothing extra special, but it is beautiful, as are all the lakes, and the weather was perfect for sailing and tripping around on the local traghetti (ferries).  There is a large island in the middle of the lake called Monte Isolo where many were just happy to sit by the lakeside while the children jumped in and out of the cool lake waters, and who could blame them in these temperatures.

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