Mirandola is not a very large town, having about 20,000 inhabitants, but it has played an important role across the centuries because of its position between Mantua and Veneto, to the north-east of Modena and north-west of Bologna.
Mirandola and the Castle of the Pico
Your visit to Mirandola can start from the Castle of the Pico. The castle was restored in 2006 although over the centuries the original structure has been subject to substantial demolitions including the big-tower (Torrione) that was built under Giovan Francesco Pico II in 1500.
A tale of treasures lost...
Unfortunately paintings by the great painter Cosme Tura, who created ten tableaux for the Library of the Castle, have been lost. Other excellent works of art were also painted in the castle during the 17th century when Alessandro Pico built new rooms that were decorated by famous painters such as Jacopo Palma il Giovane (1544-1628) and Sante Peranda (1566-1638).
Under the rule of Alexander II the so-called New Gallery was built, with frescoes by Biagio Falceri (1628-1703) and which also contained prestigious works by the greatest Italian artists of the Renaissance such as Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519), Raffaello (1483-1520), Caravaggio (1571-1610) and Tiziano (1480 ca-1576).
Sadly a substantial part of the artistic heritage of the castle has been irretrievably dispersed, including some works now held in the Ducal Palace of Mantua, and from the 18th century, the Castle of the Pico suffered serious damages, losing yet more artworks...
Today the castle houses the Civic Museum of Mirandola. The exhibits consist of paintings, coins, prints, furniture, documents and archaeological findings that tell the story of Mirandola, its institutions, and several portraits of prominent members of the Pico family, such as Giovan Francesco Pico della Mirandola (1469-1533).
Other Mirandola monuments
In the Piazza del Duomo you can admire the cathedral - the Collegiate Church of Santa Maria Maggiore (1440) - which retains its original gothic style although the façade was restored in the 19th century.
This collegiale church has an interior with three naves and vaulted ceilings and holds some valuable paintings and frescoes. The bell tower is 48 meters high, with the lower part dating from the late 15th century.
Other public buildings of great artistic interest in the town are the Bergomi Palace and the Palazzo della Ragione, while among the religious buildings the 14th century Church of Santa Maria della Porta, with a neo-classical style façade, merits particular attention.
The Church of Santa Maria della Porta was consecrated in the early 17th century to the Virgin to celebrate the end of an epidemic that had severely affected the city.
A little further during your tour of Mirandola and you will find the Municipality Palace, dating from the 15th century (and rebuilt during the 19th century), which contains the portraits of the Pico and a precious painting attributed to Palma il Giovane.
Another interesting monument is the 13th century gothic style Church of San Francesco, which houses the tombs of the Pico.
Note: Mirandola was seriously affected by an earthquake 29 May 2012 that caused some loss of life and damage to monuments such as the cathedral and the Church of San Francesco.
Mirandola is a city deeply attached to ancient traditions - including cuisine. The region offers dishes especially tasty and pleasing and is the home of the famous 'zampone' (pig’s trotter). Also very good are the sauces, the roast pork and, among the first courses, the macaroni.
Among the cheeses, the Parmigiano Reggiano dominates while among the sweet tarts try the ring-shaped cake called Belsone, some of the numerous fruits jams, and, finally, the compotes with balsamic vinegar.
See also history of Mirandola for details of the history and etymology of the town.
Map of Mirandola and places to visit
Mirandola places to visit
See more places nearby in the Emilia-Romagna guide