Cremona: what to see and taste in Italy’s musical capital?
The beautiful city of Cremona is rightly called the musical capital of Italy. But wait with the music. First, you should learn a few “t” words, because Cremona is not just called the city of the three T’s for nothing.
The first word is Torrazzo. It is a local Campanilla – the highest of all brick belfries in Italy, an undeniable symbol of the city, which creates a harmonious ensemble on the Duomo square. The second important word is tette. It is a free word for a woman’s breast. There is an opinion that Cremona women were generously gifted with this wealth by Mother Nature, and considered a magnificent bust to be their main advantage and trump card.
The Torazzo Tower and the Duomo on Cremona’s Piazza
And the third “t” word is torrone – sweet nougat with nuts, it was invented during the Renaissance and became a favorite delicacy in northern Italy. There is a legend that torrone decorated the table during the wedding celebration of Signor Ludovico Moro Sforza of Milan with Beatrice d’Este, a representative of the famous aristocratic family. It was this girl who initiated the creation of the “Last Supper” in the convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie, but unfortunately did not live to see the fresco finished.
Pictured: the torrone, Cremona’s main sweet
The celebrations on the occasion of the royal wedding were celebrated in Cremona with great fanfare, and the event was organized by the great Leonardo da Vinci, who served at the court of the Duchy of Milan as engineer, architect, painter, party planner and even musician. And there it is again, the connection to music.
WHAT TO SEE: CREMONA’S RENAISSANCE TREASURES
The best place to start your encounter with Cremona is in Piazza del Comune, where you will be greeted by the imposing Duomo, the already famous Torrazzo Bell Tower, which has seven bells – for the number of notes – and is another feature of the city associated with music; the Baptistry, the Comune Palace, which gave the square its name, and the Warriors’ Loggia. Most of the buildings combine features of the Gothic style and the spirited Renaissance, a favorite architectural trend throughout Italy.
Pictured: Duomo and Cremona Baptistery
Be sure to climb the campanile for a panoramic view of the terracotta roofs and check out the cathedral dedicated to the Assumption of the Virgin Mary to see the frescoes by Giovanni Antonio Pordenone, a master who drew inspiration from the works of Titian and Giorgione, but stayed true to his own style.
Another church, Sant’Agostino, may seem interesting because under its vaults is an altarpiece painted by the famous Pietro Perugino, a Renaissance painter who became the teacher of Rafael Santi. His Madonna and Child on the Throne with St. John and St. Augustine immediately attracted attention with its colors, harmony and perfect composition. The temple is next to the Duomo, but few people know about the hidden Renaissance masterpiece and ignorantly pass it by. But you are now fully armed!
THE VIOLIN CAPITAL OF ITALY
Cremona has always known how to make violins better than anywhere else and the names of the violin masters are known all over the music world. But if the names of Nicola Amati and Andrea Guarneri are more familiar to specialists, then Antonio Stradivari, who lived all his life in Cremona, does not need an introduction.
Pictured: Antonio Stradivari’s Monument in Cremona
Many are still puzzled as to what was the secret of his violins: whether it was the choice of wood, or a special lacquer, or the sequence of each stage and special instruments. The maestro himself answered this question during his lifetime – anima, that is, the soul. What else can turn wood into a delightful instrument with a beautiful sound? But that is far from all: the city’s location and the local climate also played a role, especially in the final phase, when the violins were sent off to dry out. So Cremona’s role in the birth of the greatest musical instruments is not very significant.
Pictured: Il Museo del Violino Museum
All the secrets will be revealed to you by Il Museo del Violino where in addition to the mysteries of musical instruments and history you can see with your own eyes five masterpieces of the great Stradivari – four violins and one guitar. If you are lucky enough to hear the sound of his violin (from time to time the priceless instrument is used during concerts in the museum hall), you will never be able to forget this moment of your life.
Cremona knows a lot about good food. Alongside the sweet torrone, often made in the shape of a violin, the mostarda, a spicy-sweet tart that goes well with meat and chicken, is considered the city’s trademark. In the composition: grape must, mustard seeds and various fruits – plums, pears, figs and so on. The candied fruit retains its shape and color and is the best accompaniment to the latter. Mostarda can always be found in local stores, but some homemakers prefer to make it themselves.
Pictured: mostarda from Cremona
Another sweet dish of Italy’s musical capital is pan Cremona – Cremona bread. Dessert lovers will find it difficult to restrain themselves, because the unusual “bread”, more like a cupcake: inside it is honey, and the outside is covered with a generous layer of chocolate and sprinkled with crumbs. It will lure you into the windows of pastry shops and bakeries, leaving no chance to pass by the traditional dolce, sweets, cakes and other sweets.
Pictured: cotechino vaniglia cremonese
Now local cheeses and prosciutto are next, in particular cotechino vaniglia cremonese and salami (salame cremonese igt), which are made according to traditional recipes. There’s even a gastronomic joke that torrone should be hard and salame should be soft.
Pictured: salame cremonese
In short, if you come to Cremona you have a chance to discover the little pearl of Lombardy, to see the real life of Italians, to touch the art and the centuries-old musical traditions, and at the same time to tickle your taste buds. And don’t forget to take a torrone with you, because Christmas is coming soon!
We express our sincere thanks to the organizers of the trip – the project #inLombardia365, the project website – 365.in-lombardia.it