Mantua, Italy

29th June 2007 at 01:00
Alessandra Seguri teaches English to 11 to 13-year-olds at Scuola Media di Campitello, Mantua, northern Italy

Favourite place when you have time off?

I live in the historic centre of Mantua, surrounded on three sides by lakes. I enjoy strolling underneath the arcades and through the three main squares: Piazza delle Erbe, Piazza Broletto and the splendid Piazza Sordello, with the Gonzagas' Palazzo Ducale, Palazzo Bonacolsi and the Duomo.

When's a good time to come?

Spring and autumn. In September, the Festival di Letteratura, an international literary festival, transforms the city into an open-air salotto (literary salon).

Lunchtime treats?

If you feel like a picnic, there are pleasant areas around the lakes.

Evening delights?

Pork features a lot, from beautiful salami to the salamella, a Mantuan sausage. Antica Osteria ai Ranari, via Trieste 11, was a traditional "drinking hole" in the port. It retains a typical menu. Fragoletta in Piazza Arche is reasonably priced. The Pizzeria La Masseria in Piazza Broletto has a medieval fresco. Canossa's bar in Piazza Canossa is beautiful.

Don't miss Walk around the Castello di San Giorgio and onto the San Giorgio bridge for 500 metres, then turn and admire the profile of the Gonzagas' Palace, the Castle and the dome of the Church of San Andrea.

But avoid Visiting in humid July and August.

Remember to buy Sbrisolona, a hard cake made with butter, sugar and almonds. Or a chunk of Grana Padano (less expensive than the more famous Parmigiano), or some Vialone Nano, a superior risotto rice. Buy these at Panetteria Freddi, a fragrant bakery in Piazza Cavallotti

Alessandra Seguri was talking to Renata Rubnikowicz

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