Perhaps you’ve heard of the European Capital of Culture, a designation that highlights a few cities for one year. Italy has recently started its own similar effort, and Mantua is the Italian Capital of Culture for 2016. The Lombardy city’s historic center has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2007, and Mantua has long been an important city of art. Mantua (called Mantova in Italian) was ruled by the Gonzaga family for centuries, and they left behind sumptuous palaces, religious relics, and elaborately decorated churches. It’s the closest modern city to where Roman poet Virgil was born. Mantua will be part of the East Lombardy region’s designation as European Capital of Gastronomy in 2017. And it’s an easy day trip from either Venice or Milan.