Have you ever climbed up and down a thousand steps in a narrow staircase?
Have you ever been to the place where some of the world’s finest violins come from?
Have you ever tasted sweet and delicious nougat?
If you can answer yes to at least at one of these questions then you know this is Cremona; a beautiful little jewel of a city right on the left bank of the Po river on the border between Lombardy and the Emilia Romagna regions of northern Italy.
Let us share a few interesting facts about this charming yet still uncharted town.
Let’s start with the monumental “Torrazzo”, Cremona’s emblematic bell tower which is 343 ft 6 in height. The Torrazzo is known to be the third tallest brickwork bell tower in the world, the second in Europe and the tallest in Italy. Climbing up to the top could be arduous and impressive but once at the end of its 502 steps, it is as being on the top of a mountain where one can enjoy the most amazing views of the city and its surroundings.
With the entire city at your feet and on a clear day, you might even see the Alps on the horizon. This beautiful architectural masterpiece was completed in 1309 A.D.; it overlooks the main square of the town along with the nearby Cathedral and the annexed Baptistery which together constitute one of the most notable sites for Romanesque-Gothic art in northern Italy.
Cremona is not only known for its architecture and history but also for its highly distinguished musical history and it is considered to be one of the most important centers for musical string instrument production in Europe with the most famous being the Stradivarius violin. Cremona is the ideal place for classical music lovers whom are surely aware that some of the most prestigious violins and string instruments in the world come from this small city where the most reputable luthiers produced them from the 16th – 18th centuries.
The Stradivarius museum holds an important collection of instruments and relics from the workshop of Antonio Stradivari and the Palazzo del Comune houses a select exhibition of some of Cremona’s most historic collection of violins. The art of violin making continues to be an important part of Cremona’s culture and the city has its own luthier school. Today, strolling around the narrow streets of the city center one can still see the artisans at work in their ateliers producing these instruments with the same care and passion of former times. In addition, Cremona is also home to some of the most important ensembles for Renaissance and Baroque music and several music festivals are held throughout the year, which make this city one of the most important towns in Italy for music.
For those with a sweet tooth, Cremona is home to some of the most delicious “Torrone” in all of Italy. This traditional nougat sweet whose main ingredients are toasted almonds, honey and egg whites can be found soft or hard and can also be made with hazelnuts, pistachios, citrus and often dipped in chocolate that you will certainly be spoiled with choices! If you are visiting in November, you can add to your historical-artistic itinerary a tasting experience of the typical Torrone, during this month a festival is held in the historical center of the city fully dedicated to this artisanal sweet which is believed to be first made in Cremona in the mid 1400’s.
“La Festa del Torrone di Cremona” is traditionally a 3 day weekend event and along with your cultural and historical visit you will be able to see how the Torrone is made following old traditional recipes.
A truly sweet way to enjoy your stay in Italy!