Cremona , in Lombardy, is famous all over the world for its traditional artisan violin-making, for the beauty of its architecture and for its food and wine culture.
It is also known as the city of the 3 T: Torrazzo, one of the highest steeples in the world, and symbol of the city; Tognazzi, famous actor born in Cremona; Nougat, typical local product for well over 500 years and exported to every part of the planet.
The Feast of the Nougat
November, in Cremona, is the month of the Festa del Torrone: the city is filled with historical parades and events that recall the wedding between Bianca Maria Visconti and Francesco Sforza, celebrated on October 25, 1441.
The festival is an ode to gastronomy: along the streets are set up stalls displaying varieties of nougat tasty and inviting, to be enjoyed while walking through the characteristic villages of the center.
On this occasion, historical producers such as Sperlari open their doors welcoming visitors and offering delicacies of all kinds: the inevitable nougats are accompanied, then, by cakes, lollipops and cream colored tiles, so as to satisfy different tastes!
At the same time, the main square is invaded by violins and scores that, with their notes, give a unique and unmissable atmosphere. But not only that: many street artists come to entertain passers-by and, in the meantime, restaurants offer entire themed menus.
But Cremona does not stop at this, indeed: it offers tourists and visitors a large number of places to discover and admire in all their splendor and organizes, every year, a wide range of events in which you can participate even with children!
Here are 10 things to do and see in Cremona
In the past, Cremona was inhabited by noble families who have left an invaluable legacy among palaces, gardens and precious collections of works of art kept today in museums scattered around the city. If you are nearby, then, it is worth taking a detour and stop for a few hours to walk through its streets to discover at least 10 unmissable places:
- Cathedral of Cremona
The Cathedral of Cremona is the main place of worship in the city. Also known as the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta, it dates back to the twelfth century but has been renovated and adapted several times, so today it presents different architectural styles in a mix of Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque. The Cathedral also includes the Baptistery and the Torrazzo and the entire complex is externally made of white Carrara marble and red Verona marble.
- Piazza del Comune
Piazza del Comune is the place in Cremona where art, history, architecture and traditions meet. The numerous historic buildings, made of red terracotta and white marble, are the main ones: the Town Hall, the Loggia dei Militi and the Portico del Bertazzola.
The symbol of the city is, undoubtedly, the Torrazzo: it consists of a bell tower of 754 A.D. 112 meters high, so much so that it ranks as the second tallest in Italy and the 36th tallest in Europe. Excavations conducted at the base have unearthed an underground connection to a cemetery area, while on the fourth floor one of the largest astronomical clocks in the world was found. The bells are 7 and, every day, delight citizens and tourists with pleasant concerts.
- The Violin Museum
Among the places to visit is the Violin Museum, which houses 10 rooms with violins, violas, cellos and double basses belonging to famous luthiers such as Antonio Stradivari. It was founded in 1893, when it was still called the Stradivarian Museum; only in 2013 it became the Violin Museum.
- The Town Hall and the Loggia dei Militi
The two most important historical buildings of Cremona are the Palazzo del Comune, of 1206, and the Loggia dei Militi, of 1292. The first was built with the name of Palazzo dei Ghibellini and, inside, it boasts the presence of precious decorative frescoes; the loggia, instead, was initially born as a meeting place of the Society of Soldiers, composed of members of the city’s nobility and charged with protecting the most significant civil objects (such as statues and flags).
- The Monastery of San Giuseppe in San Sigismondo
Besides the Duomo, another place of worship of the city is the Monastery of San Giuseppe in San Sigismondo, dating back to 1463. Its interior, apparently simple because of the presence of a single nave, is actually enriched by spectacular frescoes on each hat and on each wall. An example of the elegant and sophisticated art typical of the sixteenth century.
- The Sperlari Shop
The most greedy will certainly know the confectionery company Sperlari that, in fact, is originally from Cremona: here stands the very first shop and you can visit the oldest store in the city (it exists since 1836). Enea Sperlari started the business and, skilfully combining the recipes of the Cremona specialties with his impeccable entrepreneurial spirit, he managed to create a real reference point for candies, nougats, chocolate, liqueurs and mustard.
- The Civic Museum “Ponzone Wing”
Inside a historic and elegant sixteenth-century building there is the Museo Civico Ala Ponzone, an art gallery inaugurated in the sixteenth century by the Ponzone family and gradually became more and more supplied thanks to works from some churches in the area. Today it boasts more than 2 thousand works including paintings and sculptures, including “San Francesco” by Caravaggio and “L’Ortolano” by Arcimboldi.
- The Stanga Palace
Palazzo Stanga, which takes its name from the family that lived there for a long time, is a Renaissance building that, until the nineteenth century, has undergone several revisions: its facade is baroque, decorated with arcades with large windows with wrought iron frames; the interior, however, is characterized by gold-colored ceilings and frescoes. Currently, the palace is the seat of the Agrarian Institute and can be visited only during city festivals.
- The Museum of Rural Life
Another place to visit is undoubtedly the Museo della Civiltà Contadina, which is located in a Cremona farmhouse, Il Cambonino Vecchio: inside it you can enter along an exhibition that shows visitors the life of farmers, humble and reserved, and the various tools they used in their activities.
Bonus: if you want to visit a violin-making shop and discover all the secrets of working with violins, violas and viloncelli, contact the Cremona tourist office to organize your visit and get to know the secular art of Cremona luthiers.
Must-see events in Cremona
The choice to visit Cremona can fall at any time of the year, but there are times when you can attend and participate in really interesting events, especially the San Pietro Fair, in June, during which games and attractions are set up in an area near the river Po.
A major international exhibition is, then, Cremona Musica, a musical event that, at the end of September, becomes a meeting point for luthiers, musicians and fans of piano, guitar, wind and string instruments.
In the city, in addition, there are often numerous international livestock fairs, real international exhibitions dedicated to the world of pig, cattle and poultry breeding.
What to eat in Cremona
Cremona is certainly famous for its nougat, but there are many other dishes and sweets that you can enjoy during a stay in the city! The best to try are:
- Pumpkin tortelli: ravioli is an institution in Cremona and this type is prepared especially in the coldest season, when pumpkin becomes the protagonist of the kitchen. The tortelli are prepared categorically by hand and, usually, seasoned with butter and sage;
- marubini: another type of fresh pasta filled with a mixture of braised, salami cremonese, nutmeg and grana padano to be served with a broth prepared with chicken, beef or pork;
- large boiled Cremona: is a typical dish of the Christmas tradition of the city, then prepared for the holidays. It consists of different types of meat, boiled in flavored water and served with the famous sauce see, obtained by blending parsley, bread crumbs, garlic and anchovies;
- bone marrow stew: another second dish very popular in Cremona, based on beef or veal cooked for a long time, flavored with vegetables and tomato and served with polenta or mashed potatoes;
- polenta with Salva cheese: undisputed protagonist not only in Cremona, but throughout Lombardy, polenta is often accompanied by Salva, a soft cheese made from cow’s milk of the Po Plain;
- IGP Cremona salami: it is a sausage produced with minced pork meat and enriched with aromas, very common throughout the Po Valley and served with mustard and fresh fruit;
- mustard: a very particular preparation based on candied fruit and syrup with the addition of mustard essence, which goes perfectly with meat and cheese dishes;
- Cremona cake: it is the most famous cake in town (so much to bear its name), composed of a shell of shortcrust pastry that houses inside a delicious cream flavored with almonds and orange.
There are so many reasons why it is worth visiting Cremona: try it!