Palazzo Castiglioni 1280

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.