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The Garden of Casa Gonzaga or Casa Abate

The garden of Casa Gonzaga or Casa Abate

italiano Italian version

Private property, open for visits upon request


Next to the majestic and solemn facade of Palazzo Cavriani, bordering the ancient San Leonardo district, an area where one can still feel the aristocratic isolation, there is the equally surprising and impressive Geriatrics Institute of Monsignor Arrigo Mazzali. The facade still reveals fragments of frescoes with geometric designs to a keen eye, and in a more general observation, the palace retains the ancient U-shaped layout, which was originally built around an elegant courtyard with loggias connected to a large internal garden, “the beauty of which I dare not write” declared Raffaello Toscano in 1586. It is distinguished with the presence of a pond, an element that played a fundamental role in the history of the entire complex, and was probably built with a geometric layout, according to the style and fashion of the time, divided by flower-beds where one could find flowers, trees and hedges as well as many large and small stone vases with lemon trees, orange trees, citrons, Spanish jasmine and carnations.
The palace, known as Casa Gonzaga or Casa Abate, was built by the Bonacolsi family and inherited by the Gonzaga family from Mantua, it later went to the Gonzaga family from Luzzara, at the beginning of the 17th century, who owned the property for approximately two centuries, until 1838 when it was acquired by the Cavriani family who then sold it, in 1885, to the city of Mantua, when it was turned into the Municipal Hospital. The change of use brought many changes and functional transformations that changed the layout in certain parts.
The large garden, documented in 1545, that remained unchanged for centuries as a characteristic of Casa Gonzaga, can still be traced in some of the borders and in the grounds that still retain some of their original layout. A large green area can be found behind the palace, which, according to its design and extension, is the result of more recent expansions: a surface formed by the grounds of the old courtyard, enclosed within the walls of the U-shaped palace; the area of the original quadrangular garden with a size related to the length of the building and from the area to the rear and annexed after the demolition of the ancient boundary wall, which was part of the former Capuchin convent, subsequently used as a military hospital.

(From  C. Bonora Previdi, Il giardino di Casa Gonzaga o dell’Abate, in I giardini dei Gonzaga 2018, pp. 331-335)


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