Monday, March 01, 2004

Romeo was banished to Mantova. In his 1996 film Baz Luhrmann updated that and instead sent Leo DiCaprio to a decreped caravan that was apparantly situated in the middle of a desert. And I can see why; having visited there yesterday afternoon, Mantova doesn’t seem such a bad place to be.

Although in the way of tourist attractions it’s a little limited – two impressive Palazzo’s not withstanding – it’s a very pleasant place, and it served to remind me why Italy can be so charming, especially to the visitor. I suspect I’ve (foolishly) begun to take Verona’s beauty for granted; mostly it no longer registers in the day-to-day. The charms of Mantova – cobbled piazzas, rambling architecture with arches and porticoes – are similar to Verona’s. I have resolved to take a fresh look at Piazza Erbe and its environs next time I’m whizzing past on my bike.

And... and and and and and. I know I’ve lamented Italian regionality here before, but despite all the problems I see inherent in that, it does mean you’ll always stumble across some new and, as ever, fantastic food wherever you go. I was advised that tortellini di zucca (zucca is pumpkin) was the local speciality and... yum. Yum yum yum. And in a particularly lovely osteria – an arched bricked ceiling, wine bottles everywhere, dim lighting, The Rolling Stones – too. If you’re ever there...

Like the mosaics, this dome is also in Ravenna.

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