Golden Day Seventy-Five: Cremona with Elizabeth Condelli
Elizabeth Condelli has a boundless passion for Italy, that has inspired her to create the wonderful website, Escape-Artists. Here she shares her knowledge of Italy’s cooking, culture, and traditions and offers travel consultations–whether you need assistance with luxury stays in the major cities or advice for off-the-beaten-track destinations. I love clicking through the dreamy videos of every region.
When I saw Elizabeth last fall, just after she returned from Cremona, she was bursting with enthusiasm about her time there. I’m so grateful she’s joined in to share her take about this treasure:
Five Reasons to Visit Cremona
One might overlook the charming medieval town of Cremona, located in Lombardy’s Cremona province, which lies on the left bank of the Po River. There are more than five reasons to visit Cremona, but let’s start with mine.
Just steps from the piazza is the Hotel Impero Cremona , an ideal place to stay for exploring the town.
#2. The Cathedral, called the “Sistine Chapel of the Po Valley” because of its beautiful sixteenth century Mannerist depictions of the life of Mary and Jesus. From the early Renaissance work of Boccaccino Boccaccio, Bembo, Melon, Romanino, and the overwhelming expressive power in Pordenone’s Crucifixion, the nave reveals some of the greatest masterpieces of the Lombard Renaissance.
#3. Cremona’s bell tower called ‘Torrazzo’ is Europe’s oldest surviving tower, standing over 344 feet tall, and it is also the tallest brick bell tower in Europe. The torrazzo is the emblem of the city. Enjoy one of my favorite pastimes, people watching in the piazza while having an aperitivo at Caffè Torrazzo.
#4 Home of Stradivari. Cremona also owes its fame to Antonio Stradivari, the most significant artisan in the field of string instruments. A visit to this city is a dream come true for lovers of the violin. There is music everywhere, people young and old alike, bustling with their instruments in hand, on their way to a class or performance. Plan a visit to Cremona for the opening of the New Violin Museum designed by architect Giorgio Palù, scheduled in September 2012.
#5 Nougat Candy. Cremona is the city where the Italian candy torrone originated. It was on October 25, 1441, at the wedding of Bianca Maria Visconti and Francesco Sforza that Bianca’s father had the court’s pastry chef create a new confection to commemorate this grand event. His chef mixed some almonds, honey and beaten egg whites, cooked the mixture for hours then wrapped it with the unconsecrated host and shaped it to look like the emblem of the city, the bell (Torrione). Today Torrone is available to everyone, and many new versions have been developed. One of my favorites is the torrone made with hazelnuts, pistachios and chocolate which, I must have every year at Christmas.
So Much More…
There is much more to do and see in Cremona. If you are lucky enough to be in the town on Sunday, you might want to spend some time browsing the antique market which takes up the entire Piazza del Comune.
There are festivals every month in Cremona, including the Bonfire of San Giuseppe in March, and in May the Fish Festival, and the Apparition Fair–Click here for a calendar. The one not to miss is the November 16-18 2012 Torrone Festival, complete with all the music you could ever dream of hearing.
Grazie for the inspiration, Elizabeth!