Last sunday of october, it was a sunny and warm day, we knew it would be probably the last one suitable for a bike ride. So in the morning (not too early, we waited for the sun to warm up a little) with the usual bunch of friends we drove about 60 kms to the little town of Goito for the ” Motograna” ( a bikers meeting in the name of Grana Padano cheese).
Goito is on the right bank of the Mincio River near the bridge in the region of Lombardia. The town is part of the region known as Alto Mantovano (Upper Mantua). It was founded as a Roman colony in the early 2nd century BC as a defensive outpost on the Mincio crossing along the Via Postumia from Cremona to Verona. In the late 5th century AD, after the fall of the Western Roman Empire, it become a fortress of the Ostrogoths, from whom the current name perhaps derives. Later it was conquered by the Lombards and the Franks. In the later Middle Ages it was held by the Canossa family as part of the Holy Roman Empire, and then it established itself as a free commune. In the 15th century Goito was contended between the Visconti and Gonzaga families, until, after a battle fought on 14 June 1453, it became a possession of marquis Ludovico III Gonzaga. He built here a residence (in which the painter Andrea Mantegna worked in 1463–64), restored the fortifications and built the Naviglio di Goito canal, and died here by plague in 1478. Goito maintained its prosperity under dukes Guglielmo and Vincenzo I Gonzaga. After the decline of the Gonzaga lordship, and struck by an earthquake on 5 July 1693, in 1708 it was annexed to the Austrian-held Duchy of Milan. In the late 18th century it was captured by the French and later retaken by the Austrians. During the First Italian War of Independence, the Piedmontese forces won two actions (8 April and 30 May 1848, called the battle of Goito) over the Austrians here. It became part of Italy after the Second Italian War of Independence.
For ages there’s a gentle battle between the producers in the Lomardia region (Grana Padano) and the ones in Emilia region (Parmigiano-Reggiano) debating which cheese in the best. I’m a little biased, being born and lived all my life where the Parmgiano is the undisputed king, but Grana is not bad at all, and strolling through the town streets, we get as many tastings as we could, with salami, ham, honey, jam and the excellence of the region, the “mostarda“.
The Basilica of Our Lady of Health overlooks the main square of Goito. Baroque in style, it was the masterpiece of the artist Borsotti Giovanni Maria (1729).
Solemn church, furnished with important artistic pieces, with one aisle and four vaulted chapels (devoted to “S. Anthony Abate”, to the “Sacred Heart”, to the “Our Lady of the Health”, to the “Sacred Crucifix”).
The façade is an elegant work with columns and lesene that forms eight panels (in the two superior there are two niches with the statues of the “SS. Pietro and Paul”). Above the principal portal devoted to the Virgo (work of the sculptor Giuseppe Menozzi with engraved images of eminent personalities that participated in the history of Goito) there’s a mosaic reproducing the image of Q”Our Lady of the Health.”
Closing one side of the square, the stables and warehouse of the Villa Moschini (half of the building has been recently restored)
As you can see, there are many kind of bikers….some are so very unique….
We decided to win the battle for lunch heading for a restaurant before the rush hour…..we had some specialities, like risotto with “salamella mantovana” (a sausage made only with specific pork meats)
and the saffron version …..
the usual but always so good tortelli filled with pumpkin cream
cotechino with mashed potatoes
a tasting of cheeses with jams and mostarda
and a pumpkin pie
Lucky for us the weather was still so good and we had the chance to take a long walk along the Mincio river (and we needed it after that lunch!)
(sorry for hubby hands and nose……lol…..)
The gate of Villa Moschini, one of the many country residences belonged to the Gonzaga from Mantua.
The first building, with a huge park, was built in 1460 by the marquis of Mantua Ludovico III Gonzaga based on a sketch drawn by engineer Giovanni of Padua. It was subsequently widened and embellished by his successors, Francis II Gonzaga, that used it as a residence for hunting and most of all by Guglielmo Gonzaga. In the realization of the villa the best architects (Luca Fancelli, Antonio Maria Viani) and painters (Theodore Ghisi, Ippolito Andreasi) were called by the Gonzaga .The devastating earthquake of July 6 th 1693 provoked the collapse of the roof and it damaged some rooms and the fates of the villa were marked by the decline of the Gonzaga dinasty (1708). In 1735 the troops of occupation of the Kingdom of Sardinia devastated and then stripped the building, that collapsed after a short time . At the end of the XVIII century the villa was rebuilt in neoclassic style by the Mantua architects Giuseppe Crevola and Giambattista Marconi, with the contribution of Leopoldo Pollack for the realization of the park. It was held by the Counts d’Arco and Cocastelli and since the end ‘800 the villa passed to the family Moschini.
Too bad the villa has been closed for a while due to inside renovations, they told us it will be opened again next spring…..maybe next year Motograna will have a surprise in store for us?