Mantua is a stern, inward-looking, noble city with a strong sense of identity. Located in the southeastern part of Lombardy on a plain, and surrounded by swampy lakes, this was once a busy and prosperous port, with its access to the Po River via the Mincio River. This melancholy, masculine setting, whose sense is reinforced by its often foggy or humid weather, can seem uninviting at first. But, Mantua is a great art city and worth a visit. Thankfully, most of the wise patronage of its independent-minded rulers, is felt through this handsome, seemingly sober city of about 50,000 inhabitants.