The Lombardy region has been populated since the neolithic age. During the time of the Roman Empire certain cities flourished along Lake Garda such as Desenzano and Sirmione. Here the remains of the “Grotte di Catullo” were found, a spectacular archaeological site that is considered the most significant example of the Villa Romana in all of northern Italy. Mantova’s Renaissance historic centre is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, as is nearby Sabbioneta, another residence of the Gonzaga, considered to be the perfect city according to the principles of Renaissance humanism. Among its most famous monuments is the Teatro all’Antica, one of the first indoor theatres. Crossing the gentle hills of the Brianza, one arrives at Monza with its 18th century Villa Reale, was built by Empress Maria Theresa of Austria. The neoclassical architectural design combines with an idea of harmony and beauty. Today the royal palace houses a museum, and exhibits and important events are held in its unfurnished rooms.