Once a year, when things are winding down a bit at the end of the season, the Michelangelo team goes on its own journey of exploration and discovery of Italy.This year’s fam trip took us to Cremona, a pretty medieval town just about an hour south-east of Milan, which is famous around the world for its violin-making traditions. It makes a quiet but nevertheless fascinating alternative to Italy’s tourist hot spots and a perfect destination for music and art lovers.
Known as the city of music, Cremona and its lutherie, or stringed instrument making, tradition were registered in the Intangible Cultural Heritage List by UNESCO in 2012. In fact, it is home to the families of the world’s most famous historical masters of violin manufacturers Amati, Stradivari and Guarneri and counts Claudio Monteverdi and Amilcare Ponchielli among its native sons.
One of the town’s must-sees therefore is the Violin Museum, where visitors can explore five centuries of violin-making. Nowhere else in Europe can be found such an important and complete collection of stringed instruments crafted by Stradivari and other Cremona luthiers. From the history and the techniques of violin-making to the tools Stradivari used, many other interesting violin-related objects can be admired here. The building does not only serve as a museum and research centre but functions also as an auditorium. Since a violin needs to be played regularly in order to maintain its tone, performances on historical violins and other musical events can be enjoyed here.
We had the opportunity to listen to the young Clarissa Bevilacqua playing the Clisbee violin by Antonio Stradivari.
After a refreshment with local specialties at the Hostaria 700, we made our way to Philippe Devanneaux’s lutherie workshop, where the master himself gave us an interesting and entertaining introduction to the production of stringed instruments.
In the afternoon we took a stroll through Cremonas’s picturesque historic center accompanied by our fantastic guide Roberto who treated us to a fascinating tour. Most of the town’s sights are clustered around the main square, Piazza del Comune. It is dominated by the impressive Torrazzo, the Cathedral’s bell tower and landmark of the city, at 112 m Italy’s tallest medieval tower.
>> Did you know?! <<
Legend has it that the Italian nougat candy, Torrone, was invented for the wedding banquet of Bianca Maria Visconti and Francesco Sforza, Duke of Milan, in 1441. The crunchy sweet made of almonds, honey and egg whites was modelled in the shape of Cremona’s Torrazzo tower, and hence took its name from it.
We were lucky enough to be in town on the occasion of the Festa del Torrone which takes place every year in November during which the streets and squares of Cremona are brought to life by events, performances, food and wine tastings.
Adjacent to the Torrazzo stands the Duomo, whose huge marble façade is made up of classical, Romanesque and elaborate Gothic elements whereas its rather oppressive interior features frescoes by Boccacino and Pordenone among other artists.
An exciting and interesting day in Cremona came to end for the Michelangelo team. Italy does never cease to surprise even the most experienced of our travel experts and we will always be happy to pass on our knowledge to you in order to create the most memorable trips for our clients.