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forte di pietole

The fort

 History from the Roman Period to the Present Day 

 The fort of Pietole lies atop the ruins of the village of the same name (historically known as Andes, the birthplace of the poet Virgil, who held the family’s lands here) in the comune of Borgo Virgilio. The village, which consisted of a Romanesque parish church and a scattering of homes, was razed to the ground in the Napoleonic era to make way for the construction of the fort. Here, at Mons Vergilii, nature reigned supreme until the construction of the wartime structure; a previously unchallenged status it regained as the site fell into decay and disrepair. The recent works to complete the renovation of the structure have finally struck the desired balance. 

The fort was entrusted with the defence of the city of Mantua and the protection of the system for the flooding of the Paiolo valley by diverting waters from the Mincio river, protecting the entire southern approach to the fortress at the same time. It was designed along an “asymmetrical crown” layout that overlooks a central parade ground. A moat that could be flooded in times of need separated it from ravelins, ramparts and other external defensive structures, based on the construction principles of the so-called “trace italienne” fortification style. This construction method included several layers of defences, bastions, ramparts, flooded and dry moats, counterscarps, covered walkways and casemates: individual elements of an architectural whole where, over time, the construction methods gifted us spaces imbued with immeasurable magnificence and immersed within 82 acres of lowland forest. 

The plans for the fort of Pietole are drawn up in 1802 by French General Francois de Chasseloup-Laubat. The aim is to repel attacks on Mantua from the south, enlisting the waters of the Mincio river in the service of the military. 

With the annexation of Mantua to the Kingdom of Italy, the fort no longer serves a defensive purpose. It begins to be used as a storehouse for weapons and materials, over time becoming a strategic regional depository for the distribution of arms and munitions. 

The need for hydraulic reclamation leads to the reconstruction of the Pietole lock and the excavation of a new canal, which cause the destruction of some parts of the Fort.

After thirty years of total abandonment, the Pietole Fort was transferred from the State Property to the Municipality of Borgo Virgilio.


After the bombings of the Second World War, which caused damage and injuries, the Fort remained in operation as a depot of materials for the Italian Army until it was decommissioned in the 1980s.

Opening Museum

Following the fall of the Napoleonic Empire, the Austrians once more conquer Mantua and finish construction on the fort of Pietole, reinforcing it and converting it into an efficient war machine in which to place their new, more powerful and accurate weaponry. 

Owing to the lack of safety measures, on 28 April a fire breaks out that results in an explosion when it reaches the armoury. As a consequence, the residents of nearby Cerese and Pietole are evacuated. 

forte di pietole

The park

Man and Nature in the Park: The Environment, Landscapes and Beauty as a Place of Tranquility 

Atop Mons Vergilii in Andes/Pietole, widely considered to be the birthplace of the poet Virgil, a centuries-long story is waiting to be told. From the Etruscans to Napoleon, with the unique water-based defensive system employed by the city of Mantua from the 13th century onwards. Today this is a lowland forest – a green space that extends over 82 acres, adjoining the Vallazza heritage site. Here, nature surrounds the remains of the fort and the waters of the Mincio river – an influential part of everyday life for the people living along its banks through the ages – Carress the imposing military structure. Within its green expanses – which can be reached by footpaths, cycle paths and docks for river traffic – signposts and waymarkers guide visitors in the discovery of flora, fauna and insect life. Among the protagonists of the secret life of the forest; the bees – which can be seen in their transparent hives as they work tirelessly on behalf of the forest. By seeking the trees and shrubbery referenced and described by Virgil in his works, visitors can appreciate the contemporary relevance of the poet in respecting and living in harmony with nature while enjoying its fruits. 


forte di pietole

The museum

Virgilio, snodo cruciale nella cultura europea: dall'epoca di Augusto il poeta con una sensibilità dai tratti straordinariamente moderni a distanza di due millenni ha ancora molto da dirci con le sue opere

Virgil, a crucial turning point in European culture: the poet from the Augustan Age demonstrates a sensitivity with highly pertinent modern implications: over two millennia later, Virgil still has much to teach us through his works 
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History and Literature in the Museum: The Foundation Stones of the Modern Age 

The collections and stories in the museum dedicated to Virgil within the fort of Pietole tell a story that is firmly rooted in the identity of the historical/artistic and natural heritage of the site. It can be recognised and identified in the heritage passed down over the centuries in the writings of the man who is universally recognised as the greatest poet of Ancient Rome. Poems that guaranteed Virgil his place in eternity, far beyond the limits of his own space and time. The museum enables viewers to immerse themselves in Virgil’s story using the latest mobile, low-impact and temporary technologies. The multimedia tools provided (videomapping, QR code, visors, ‘metavisual plastics’, immersive and interactive projections, scent diffusers) bring the museum experience to life, offering the visitor a chance to read and witness the history and the original structure of the fort of Pietole, which has been left exposed, for themselves. The history of the fort is brought into relief by showing its deterioration over time, as well as the natural coat that has formed on it. All this adds up to an unobtrusive and environmentally friendly multisensory experience. A selection of Roman-era artefacts from archaeological digs conducted in the local area takes the visitor on a journey through the centuries of the Virgilian experience. 

forte di pietole


Live the History and Resources of the Region 

The Virgil Experience path demonstrates the measure of the man as a poet of humanity and nature and as a part of the territory of Mantua and Borgo Virgilio. Virgil is the eternal poet whose works have never once risked oblivion. He is the author of Latin works that have become undisputed classics throughout uninterrupted centuries of history and literature, traversing borders and becoming a part of the heritage of humanity as a whole. The refined elegance of Virgil’s Latin reasserted the status of the poetic language of Rome, transforming it into a timeless tongue that for centuries spoke of the human soul, the dignity of labour, the profound bond with nature and the land where we put down our roots. The path through the green landscape, accompanied by mobile applications, provides educational and sightseeing opportunities for adults and young visitors alike (both in-person and remote). Talking trees, immersive art therapy, ecotourism events, gastronomy labs, all follow the common thread of environmental culture and discovery of the local territory of Mantua. 

Le Vie dei Tesori, the bicycle tour to the Fort

Le Vie dei Tesori is one of the largest Italian festivals dedicated to the discovery of the heritage of cities. In Mantua, the Association of Palazzo Te and the Mantovani Museums has joined the Festival for some years and every October

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The Lombardy Region has assigned the Mincio Regional Park the task of designing and building the Lombard section of the "Ciclovia del Sole", which, starting from Florence, crosses Bologna and arrives in Verona, along the EuroVelo n.7.

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Made by
Comune di borgo virgilio
With the contribution of
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logo regione lombardia
logo fondazione cariplo
logo fondazione ariverona
In partnership with
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stemma bagnolo san vito
Comune di Bagnolo San Vito
curtatone stemma
Comune di Curtatone
logo porto mantova
Comune di Porto Mantovano
logo san giorgio
Comune di San Giorgio Bigarello
Technical partners
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