After a day and night in Bologna, Steven and I headed back to Milan, where I stayed with him for a few days.
But on the way, we paused in Mantua, which has exactly three claims to fame:
1. The first real opera, Monteverdi’s Orfeo, premiered at the Ducal Palace here in 1607.
2. Romeo spends one scene exiled in Mantua in Shakespeare’s play (probably the only reason you’ve ever heard of it).
3. Vergil is from Mantua!!! (Sorry, I get most excited about this last one!)
So Steven and I spent an afternoon strolling around. The Ducal Palace was closed because of the recent earthquakes (I guess they didn’t want the old building collapsing on top of the tourists… darn), but I got to snap a few pictures of the massive monument to Vergil!
From Canto I of Inferno:
When I beheld him in the desert vast,
“Have pity on me,” unto him I cried,
“Whiche’er thou art, or shade or real man!”
He answered me: “Not man; man once I was,
And both my parents were of Lombardy,
And Mantuans by country both of them.
‘Sub Julio’ was I born, though it was late,
And lived at Rome under the good Augustus,
During the time of false and lying gods.
A poet was I, and I sang that just
Son of Anchises, who came forth from Troy,
After that Ilion the superb was burned…”