A “crossbow shot” outside of the walls of Mantua, the Isle of Te was the romping grounds of the Gonzaga family.Read more
Federico II, just over twenty years old, had a palazzo built there for “honest leisure”, far from the worries of state. Another youthful genius, Giulio Romano, a favourite pupil of Raphael, was given the task of translating Federico’s dream into reality. Hence Palazzo Te, among the most celebrated examples of the Renaissance villa, preserved virtually intact until the modern day.
The sequence of rooms, halls, and open spaces receives the visitor and immerses him in a suggestive alternation of figurative scenes that are at times classical and equilibrated, grandiose and charged with an overwhelming energy, because, as Vasari wrote it, Giulio is “profound, proud, confident, capricious, multifaceted, bounteous, and universal”. The varying stylistic intonations exalt both the figurative decorations, illustrating myths and distant tales, and the emblems, which recount the glory of the Gonzaga house or, in a more dissimulated way, Federico’s sentiments.
The Sala dei Cavalli, the Camera dei Venti, the Camera degli Stucchi, the Camera dei Giganti, the loggias, and the Secret Garden are very high expressions of culture and magic. Even to our contemporary eyes, Palazzo Te continues to be a villa that “produces, for its great grace and richness, extraordinary awe in any who gaze upon it”.