Our XII century Palace, the oldest in Mantua, was originally the home of the Bonacolsi family, first lords of the city till the insurrection led by Luigi Gonzaga on 1328 ousted them from power.
Passerino, the chief of the Bonacolsi was murdered during the revolt, and, according to a story of a traveler of that time, his corpse left our Palace, to be mummified and displayed as a talisman -…. along with an armadillo, a unicorn, a calf, a skinned crocodile - in the Palazzo Ducale, the new home of the Gonzaga family who run Mantova till 1708. Legend has it that to get rid of the mummy was the last Duchess of Mantua, who disgusted by the view of the mummy threw it into the lake and this was the beginning of the decline of the Gonzaga dynasty.
Palazzo Castiglioni is today the private residence of the descendants of Baldesar Castiglione, Italian writer and diplomat of the Renaissance.
Author of "Cortegiano” [the Courtier], the iconic text of the Italian sixteenth century, Baldesar belonged to the educated and aristocratic elite of the era. He lived in the most important Italian courts, including those of Francesco II Gonzaga in Mantua, Guidobaldo da Montefeltro in Urbino, and Ludovico il Moro in Milan. Appointed Apostolic Nuncio, he was ambassador of Popes Leo X and Clement VII at the Spanish court of Charles V. He became a friend of Raphael, who painted the portrait now on display at the Louvre next to the Mona Lisa.
Palazzo Castiglioni façade crowned by Ghibelline battlements faces the Palazzo Ducale, the hub of artistic and political life of Mantua, which became one of the most splendid courts of the European Renaissance under the leadership of the Gonzaga.
The Palace develops on 4000 sq meters ( 13100 sq ft). the 40% of it is still unused
The top floor room of the Tower hosts a great 8-meter high frescoed wall representing "the Tree of Life" dating back to 1300 which constitutes one of the oldest examples of non-religious frescoes in Europe.