I read some interesting things about Mantua (Mantova in Italian) and, mentioning this to some friends, I found out that they had been there several times .
“What a chance to have private guides” I thought. And I scheduled a visit for the following weekend.
So off we went after a late breakfast on a cold but very sunny Saturday morning.
We arrived in Mantua and were lucky enough to see Castello San Giorgio straight away, since most of the time it’s surrounded by the typical fog of this area.
We had a special goal that day: discover traditional dishes or spots for lunch, afternoon breaks, aperitifs and dinner. Only to please Tortellini&CO, of course !
Our first stop was at the restaurant our friends suggested, called La Cucina (The kitchen) which itself sounds like a guarantee of good food.
We ordered homemade focaccia while waiting for the main courses. I decided to go for a leek and zucchini cream soup with croutons and for bigoli (a kind of pasta shape) con bottarga as a main. This is a typical kind of thick and long pasta served with butter and fish eggs.
To follow, I had some mixed roasted vegetables, as I really did want to leave space for the dessert of sbrisolona e zabaione. Again, a dry shortbread made with corn flower, usually served with warm zabaglione…. to die for.
The restaurant is in modern-art style, featuring characteristic paintings on the walls. A very welcoming atmosphere is provided by the shared communal tables.
After lunch we were ready for our walk and window shopping. Season sales were on, so most of the shops were of interest, but the best ones for me were the food shops. Where tortelli mantovani, tortellini or mostarda were well displayed and incredibly yummy.
Merenda and aperitif
After a good hour of touring and some pictures of Piazza delle Erbe and Palazzo della Regione, we decided to check out Caffé Borsa. I had previously googled to find it was supposed to be one of the best known patisserie-bars in town.
And, since we were there to just to check, we ordered an assortment of cakes in single portions. And I had the mango one with a heart of white chocolate. Then ordered dark hot chocolate and herbal tea to drink. And a selection of biscuits… just in case!
Indeed a pleasant afternoon, eating and chatting … and we chatted so much that “aperitif -time” took over tea-time.
So, without even changing bar, we had the table cleared and ordered bubbles and savory finger food.
A great and super easy day with F&F (food and friends) highly recommended to the Mantua beginners and also to the ones who’ve already been there. As they will surely discover or taste something new.
Food tip (and Dinner)
At around 7, after another walk and a few more pictures facing the bridges, we headed to our last destination, The Traditional Food Festival of Mantua. The event is held for 8 weekends starting from the end of January, in the “Mantua Palabam”, a covered sports stadium, just off the city center.
Even if we were almost bursting, we just couldn’t turn down a Riso alla pilota. A special dry risotto with local salami and parmigiano, which used to be a very common hearty meal for the men and women working in the paddy fields.
Mantua homepage’s pic: Rosi Torello.
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