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A picture from Mantua

Sometimes, small details leave sharper impressions of a place than grand vistas. This picture taken in the Lombardian city of Mantua (Mantova in Italian) is a good illustration.

Mantua (Mantova), Italy


The location is Piazza Sordello. This spacious main historic plaza is flanked by the local Duke’s Palace, a couple of other ancient buildings, and the Baroque west front of St Peter’s Cathedral. Exuberant this place is not. Mantua unquestionably has significant history and offers plenty of delights throughout its World Heritage-inscribed city core, but visually Piazza Sordello is somewhat underwhelming.

Especially if you happen upon it on a rainy day.

The somber mood exuded by the square on the day of our visit was broken only by the flower beds on this corner balcony. It is not the only balcony coming out onto the piazza, but it was the only one so festively decorated. I do not photograph balconies nearly enough for my taste, but this splash of color attracted the eye in a way that was impossible to bypass.

And so it became my lasting impression of the town: A single colorful balcony on an otherwise muted square. I suspect I could have retained a different memory had I visited on a sunnier day.

Well, there is always a chance to rectify that.

Interestingly, Mantua is the Italian Capital of Culture this year, and will be one of the European Capitals of Gastronomy in 2017.