Mantua Books Maps Prints

The oldest market exhibition of antiquarian books and paper collecting in Italy

Mantua, May 2021 – Unobtainable volumes, masterpieces by master engravers, vintage cartographies, autograph texts and original pieces from Dürer to Canaletto, from Burri to Fontana: these are just some of the rarities at the center of Mantova Libri Mappe Stampe, the first market exhibition dedicated to antique paper in Italy, which will be held Saturday 12 and Sunday 13 June in the cloister of the Museo Diocesano Francesco Gonzaga in Mantua (piazza Virgiliana 55, free entrance; Saturday, 10 a.m. – 6.30 p.m.; Sunday, 9.30 a.m. – 1.00 p.m.; reduction on museum ticket for visitors to the exhibition). 30; Sunday, 9.30-13; reduction on museum ticket for visitors to the exhibition). Organized with the patronage of the Municipality of Mantua, the collaboration of the Francesco Gonzaga Museum and the Mirabilia association, the exhibition is among the first industry events to take place in presence in 2021 in Europe.

A reference appointment for bibliophiles and collectors – but also of interest to interior designers and luxury buyers – Mantova Libri Mappe Stampe is the oldest and longest-lived fair dedicated to antiquarian books and paper collecting in Italy. For the summer edition, which will take place in full compliance with health regulations a few steps from the Archaeological Museum and the Palazzo Ducale, in the heart of the historic center of the city of Gonzaga, are expected visitors from all over the peninsula and beyond for more than 40 exhibitors from Europe including specialized bookstores, operators of vintage prints and cartography.


A vast treasure trove of paper and ink to admire and purchase, including valuable volumes, incunabula and sixteenth-century works from the presses of famous printers such as Aldo Manuzio and Giunta, along with other, more numerous and affordable rarities and bibliographic curiosities from the sixteenth to the twentieth century. There will also be a rich cartographic offer including maps, atlases, views and topographical plans, as well as original period decorative prints. There will also be precious engravings of the “Old Masters” such as Dürer, Raimondi, Ghisi, Correggio, Parmigianino, Veronese, Canaletto, Piranesi, Rembrandt and Van Dyck, as well as the graphics of the protagonists of 20th century European art, including Burri and Fontana.


Born in 1975 with the cultural association Il Frontespizio, it was in fact the first event dedicated exclusively to ancient and precious paper on the Italian panorama. To host it since its origins is Mantua, one of the two jewel cities of the Gonzaga family that boasts among its descendants a true lover of the book, such as Duke Vespasiano, founder of the nearby Sabbioneta. After a decade of interruption, from September 2019 Mantova Libri Mappe Stampe is back in its semi-annual formula of market exhibition, as an international reference appointment for collectors and bibliophiles.


One of the most important diocesan museums in Italy in terms of the value and importance of the works housed, the Francesco Gonzaga Museum is located in the heart of the historic center, less than 400 meters from Piazza Sordello and the city’s main cultural attractions. The Museum is located in the ancient Augustinian monastery of Sant’Agnese. Inside, paintings and sculptures retrace two thousand years of Mantuan history with works by, among others, Andrea Mantegna, Correggio, Bonacolsi l’Antico, Bernardino Campi, Domenico Fetti, Giovanni Baglione, Antonio Maria Viani. There is also the richest collection in the world of armor of the late Middle Ages. The large internal cloister, under the loggias of which Mantova Libri Mappe Stampe takes place, dates back to the 15th-16th century, while the neoclassical facade is the work of Paolo Pozzo (1795).

On the days of the event, visitors to Mantova Libri Mappe Stampe are entitled to a reduced ticket to visit the Museum’s collection (6 €, instead of 10 €; booking is necessary by telephone on 0376 320602 during the museum’s opening hours – Wednesday to Friday, 9.30 – 12.00; 15.00 – 17.30).


Mantua is a city of art among the most representative examples of the Italian and European Renaissance.

With the nearby Sabbioneta, with which it shares the rich heritage left by the Gonzaga dynasty, it is considered a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and boasts unmissable cultural attractions, such as Palazzo Ducale, Palazzo Te and the Basilica of St. Andrew, whose interior houses works of art by artists such as Mantegna, Correggio, Romano and others.

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