A few days after the debut of “Leonardo” I decided to pay homage to the Renaissance with a visit to the ideal city founded by Vespasiano Gonzaga Column: Sabbioneta .
A place of enchantment and art, it was also the natural set of the Milan of the Sforza family seen in the “Medici – Masters of Florence” , also a production of Lux Videlike the upcoming TV series on Da Vinci.
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Giulia Gonzaga

Nothing made me more proud of being the most famous, cultured and restless exponent of the Gonzaga family. It was after all by the will and ability of two great women such as my grandmother, Antonia Del Balzo, and Isabella d’Este, that I had married the rich and important Vespasiano Colonna.
Of course he was twenty-seven years older than me, I was only thirteen, and he was also a cripple, but his wealth was far more important than all of that.
Count of Fondi and Duke of Traetto left me a widow only two years later, while at that time I was able to get his daughter Isabella to marry my brother Luigi Rodomonte Gonzaga. The two had a son, Vespasiano, that on the death of father I decided to protect seeing myself forced to give the castles of Fondi and Traetto at my stepdaughter.

Giulia Gonzaga (1513-1566)

The advantage I had, however, was much greater than the losses suffered, because I was able to take care of the education of my dear nephew, the same one whose career I tried to direct without success. Proud and stubborn, he decided to side with the Spaniards and thus obtained the title of Duke of Traetto and Prince of Sabbioneta. Nothing had made me more proud than seeing him fight for what belonged to us and this made me die quietly and with the knowledge of having made him the worthy heir of our noble family.
I left him all my possessions as an inheritance and he made my father’s favorite fief, Sabbioneta, an ideal city.
Always a supporter of a strong intellectual dissent, Vespasiano must have taken inspiration from my strong reforming spirit and had totally and completely conveyed it to a city still admired and loved today.


Sabbioneta and Vespasiano Colonna Gonzaga

The history of Sabbioneta is closely linked to that of its founder, former Prince of the Holy Roman Empire, as well as a trusted man of the King of Spain Philip II. By virtue of this he was both Viceroy of Navarre and Valencia, as well as Knight of the Order of the Golden Fleece .
Skilled diplomat and leader, but also scholar, patron and military architect, it took him thirty-five years to transform Sabbioneta from a simple rural village into an ideal city. All following the humanistic principles of rationality and scientific coherence.

What to Visit?

Sabbioneta is a place of a thousand wonders which within its walls offers numerous points of visit.

  • Church of Blessed Crowned Virgin

A octagonal plan follows the symbolism of infinity and salvation, through numerous biblical and historical references.
Inside it houses the mausoleum of Vespasiano Colonna Gonzaga and is spread over three levels:
first: formed by eight large arches separated by book pilasters;
second: with women’s gallery marked by mullioned windows and fluted pilasters;
third: it has a drum that supports the dome, completed by a luminous lantern thirty eight meters high.

  • Garden Palace

Erected between 1577 and 1588 as the private residence of Prince Gonzaga, it still houses rich fresco decorations. Don’t miss the Gallery of the Ancients , 97 meters long, with frescoes by Giovanni and Alessandro Alberti.
All the other frescoes on the noble floor are also of classic taste from the Chamber of Myths, to the Hallways of Orpheus to the Rooms of Grazie and Aeneas.

  • Ducal Palace

Among the oldest buildings built by Vespasiano Gonzaga there is precisely this place that he used as a representative office, but also as a private residence.
Built between 1568 and 1577, today it still allows you to enjoy its splendid carved wooden ceilings, as well as four life-size wooden equestrian statues and much more.

  • Olympic Theater

Considered the first theater in Italy it’s an architectural masterpiece curated by Vincenzo Scamozzi, already relieved of Palladio.

  • The Synagogue

Built in 1824 on a project by the architect Carlo Visioli in what was the Jewish quarter for centuries, it’s worth a visit before leaving the city.
With a rectangular plan it preserves the original nineteenth-century furnishings and the vaulted ceiling almost makes it seem like being outside as it appears like a cloth blown up by the wind.
Of particular value are the stuccos of 1840 by Pietro Bolla and supported by a series of pilasters on the walls and four Corinthian columns that allude to the Temple of Solomon.

Info Point

Visits must be booked by writing an e-mail to sabbioneta@coopculture.it (also available in a foreign language) .
The tour lasts about 2 hours and includes a guided tour of: Garden Palace and Gallery of the Ancients, Ducal Palace , Theater Olympic and Incoronata Church .
Price: 19,00 € per person (including the entrance of the single integrated ticket) .

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