Cremona

Located in northern Italy and a centre of the Lombardy province on the shore of the Po river, Cremona at first glance appears the archetypal provincial Italian town, but delve deeper and you'll find plenty of unique and thoroughly charming attributes.

Originally a settlement of the Gaulish Cenomani tribe, Cremona was only founded courtesy of the Romans in 218 BC as a military outpost. The city soon prospered and became one of the region's largest towns before, in circular fashion, suffering destruction at the hands of Roman emperor Vespasian in 69 AD during a battle against his rival Vitellius. Later rebuilt, Cremona would only truly return to prominence in the 11th century after rebelling against the Holy Roman Empire. As a free commune, the city experienced a halcyon era of military victories against Milan among others. Finally absorbed as part of the duchy of Milan, the city's military prowess was followed by cultural development and remained under Milan's watchful eye up until the Risorgimento, despite progressive Spanish, French and Austrian occupation.

Now a major agricultural centre, Cremona continues to celebrate its history and, in particular, its musical pedigree (most famously associated with the instruments of the Cremona natives, the Amati family and Antonio Stradivari). As such, it is a charming destination for anyone wanting culture without the frantic hubbub of the larger cities.

Attractions

The main buildings in the city are located in the Medieval Piazza del Comune. Dominating the landscape is the Duomo di Cremona. Roughly completed in the late 12th century, the Cathedral's façade is an impressive melange of Romanesque, Renaissance and Romanesque architecture thanks to repeated renovation, with the 13th century rose window a particularly beautiful sight. The interior matches the façade, containing both 16th century frescoes and trompe’l’oeil (trick the eye) paintings.

Adjacent to the Duomo is the Torrazzo di Cremona, renowned as the second highest bell tower in the world, being some 111 metres tall. Built over a long period between 1230 and 1309, the Torrazzo is also significant for housing a delightful late 16th century astronomical clock, which has to be seen.

However, Cremona is blessed with a wealth of fabulous religious buildings such as the 12th century Romanesque-styled Baptistery, the 15th century Mannerist Church of San Sigismondo and the Church of Santa Lucia. Around each corner you will find something worth a closer look, so feel free to explore.

The many Palazzos of Cremona pay tribute to the city's musical heritage. The most overt example of this is the Palazzo del Comune, which contains an exhibition of the finest violins produced in the city (including examples from the Amati family's craftworks). However, the Palazzo Affaitati should also be visited for its fabulous Museo Stradivariano, established in 1893 in celebration of Stradivari's expertise and containing everything you'd wish to know about the great manufacturer as well as examples of his priceless instruments.

Cremona also contains museums more broadly concerned with the city, such as the Museo Civico di Storia Naturale and the Museo della Civilt Contadina on Cremona's agricultural history.

If you'd prefer a quiet stroll though, check out the gardens in the Piazza Roma.

The city hosts a number of festivals throughout the year, including ‘La Merla’ in January, which celebrates Cremonese folklore for three days, and the Palio dell’Oca (Race of the Geese), where six neighbourhoods enter their chosen goose in the hopes of winning the prize of a hand-painted cloth (followed by music and dancing).

Shopping

Regular markets are held in the Piazza Cavour and Piazza delle Erbe on the third Sunday of the month, except during July and August. An antique market is also held at certain points during January, February and September in the historic centre.

Cremona has plenty of decent shopping districts, but good starting points are the Corso Garibaldi, the Corso Mazzini and the Via Guarneri Gesú.

Nightlife and Eating Out

With a range of restaurants available, you'll never be short of somewhere to eat in Cremona. However, for something more unique, try the farmhouse restaurant of Casale Carrobbio on the Via Castelverde. Also recommended is the Trattoria Rosetta on the Via Roma. Pizzerias can also be found strewn across the city like La Bersagliera in the Piazza Risorgimento.

Bars and cafes are everywhere in Cremona, particularly around the Piazza del Comune. The city's choice of nightclubs is limited to a handful such as Centrale del Latte on Via Nazarario and Nuvolari on the S.S. Paullese.

Tourist Information

IAT Tourist OfficePiazza del Comune, 5CremonaTel: +39 0372 23233info@aptcremona.it

Airport

Cremona does have its own Migliaro Airport, but Parma's G. Verdi Airport is nevertheless recommended for visitors. Despite being some 65 km away, international and domestic connecting flights are available from Parma and both buses and trains can be used to reach Cremona itself.

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