Mantua is a city and comune in Lombardy, Italy, and capital of the province of the same name. Mantua's historic power and influence under the Gonzaga family made it one of the main artistic, cultural, and especially musical hubs of Northern Italy and the country as a whole. Mantua is noted for its significant role in the history of opera, and the city is known for its architectural treasures and artifacts, elegant palaces, and medieval and Renaissance cityscape. It is the nearest town to the birthplace of the Roman poet Virgil. It is also the town to which Romeo was banished in William Shakespeare's play Romeo and Juliet. Mantua is surrounded on three sides by artificial lakes created during the 12th century. These receive the waters of the river Mincio, a tributary of the Po which descends from Lake Garda. The three lakes are called Lago Superiore, Lago di Mezzo, and Lago Inferiore. A fourth lake, Lake Pajolo, which once completed a defensive water ring of the city, dried up at the end of the 18th century. The area and its environs are not only important in naturalistic terms, but also anthropologically and historically; research has highlighted a number of human settlements scattered between Barche di Solferino and Bande di Cavriana Castellaro and Isolone del Mincio. These date, without interruption, from Neolithic times to the Bronze Age, the Gallic phases and end with Roman residential settlements, which can be dated to the 3rd century AD.