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Cafe in Cremona at night
by Ken Kirk

Portico of the duomo, Cremona

Spires of the Duomo in Cremona

   Most Photos on VisitsItaly are by Jesse Andrews. Please Contact VisitsItaly.Com for reproduction of any kind at:

Welcome to Cremona
From Jesse's Journeys in Italy

Population: 71,543 (2005)
Official site:

Situated on the left banks of the Po river, in the middle of the Padana Plane, Cremona is the capital of Cremona province. The origins of the city go back more than 3000 years, but are uncertain to historians. It is believed to have been the Etruscans to settle on some of the most fertile land in the Lombardy region.

The Romans conquered Cremona in the year 218 BC, and together with Piacenza, it grew and prospered into one of the largest cities in northern Italy: it was conveniently situated along the main commercial road that connected Genoa to Aquileia - the Via Postumia.

During the Middle Ages, Cremona was at many times beseiged and assaulted by outside threats. When the Lombards invaded the north (thus giving the region it name), however, Cremona maintained its Byzantine stronghold. Throughout Medieval times, control fell incresingly into the hands of its bishops, until a river port was created out of the former Byzantine fortress, and the city began economic development, independent to that of the Church.

The bloody power-stuggle between the Pope and the Holy Roman Emperor afflicted many communes at this time, and devided the population into two factions: Guelphs and the Ghibellines. The people of Cremona, in fact, were so irreconcilable that the Ghilbelline faction (those siding with the Holy Roman Emperor) actually contructed a second Palazzo Comunale (City Hall), which can still be seen today.

At the heart of the old town is the lovely rose-coloured (original) Piazza del Comune. It is quite impressive to the eye, as its Baptistry, Duomo, campanile (bell tower) and City Hall all come together under very different architectural styles - Romanesque, Gothic and Renaissance.

The combination of blood-red brick, bone-coloured marble, and rose tinted stone, however, brings the otherwise daunting buildings together very harmoniously. The Piazza is know to be full of life, particulary on warm afternoons: the square litterally lights up and casts a warm glow over those come to relax on the steps of the City Hall, or at one of the many out door cafés.

Towering over the main Piazza, and seen from a long distance beyond, is the Torrazzo a campanile or bell tower soaring 130 meters above the many copper-toped towers that adorn the Cathedral’s main entrance, making it currently the tallest tower in Europe.

Also fascinating is the intricate Medeival dial constructed on its main facade, facing towards the Piazza. Made up up more than 10 "layers," the dial was more than just beautiful to the Cremonese, but funtional: it served to tell the time of day and year, the governing astrological symbol, the phases of the heavenly bodies and much more.

Not to be missed are the inviting gardens at Piazza Roma. At apartment N. 1 is where the famed Stradivari lived, work, and died. Romour has it that he would keep each violon in his bedroom before varnishing it, believing that a spiritual transaction between he and the instrument was to take place during that time, giving a soul to each one of his creations. There is a momunment to Stradivari in the gardens, as there are many trees and benches to be enjoyed on nicer days.

Cremona can be very hot during the summer months, due to its wide-open, sun-baked location on the plain, so close to the Po River. It can become extremely humid and is most certainly more enjoyable in the morning, or late in the afternoon. The the people of Cremona - the Cremonese - are a very gregarious people and will encorage tourists to join in on many of the popular sporting activities that take place.

Cyclists, walkers, joggers, and even your dedicated sun bathers can be seen in the many parks and along the green banks of the Po itself. Coming to Cremona is not just lovely for the old town, but for the lush area all around it! So come, enjoy the birth place of the famed "red-violin," take in the impressive motley of architecture in the old town, then break out, ask directions at a local cafe, and head down to the river!

By Arianna Andrews, May 10, 2006



By Car: 108 km south east of Milano.  Follow the A1 south to A21 then go east to Cremona. About 51 km to Brescia; about 125 km to Modena; about 112 km to Verona.



Coat of Arms, Comune of Cremona


Contributions: Tell us about your trip to Cremona.  What were your favorite places to visit, stay, and dine.  Contribute
Today - as it was 500 years ago - Cremona is synonomous with violin-making. In the 16th century Andrea Amati (1510-80) opened a shop in the small town and began handcrafting some of the finest violins in all of Europe. It was, however, an apprentice of Amati’s nephew who gave Cremona’s violins and the trade an international name: Antonio Stradivari (1644-1737).

The townspeople lost count because Stradivari made over 1200 instruments, including violas, celos, harps, guitars, and many other string instruments in addition to his fabled violins. Cremona is so renowned, in fact, for its violins and its rich musical history, that many strugle to name some of its other delightful aspects...of which, there are many!

Under Henry IV, Cremona refused to pay the oppressive taxes requested by the Empire and the bishop. Popular legend has it that Cremona’s mayor, Giovanni Baldesio, challenged the emperor to a duel. When Henry was knocked from his horse, the city was saved the annual payment of the 3 Kg. golden ball, which, for that year, was instead given to Berta, Giovanni's girlfriend, as her dowry.