Cremona: Land of the Luthiers
Italy is a divided country. Most Italians themselves would identify first with their regional identity before their national identity. For example, a Venetian would consider themselves Venetian first, Italian, second. This always made it difficult for me to decide which city to visit next. Italian friends always take great pride in telling me that their hometown, or their region is the best and to think about going anywhere else was highly questionable.
Personally I haven’t seen enough of Italy to make an over-arching judgement but one region which has caught my interest is Lombardy. Lombardy, one of the wealthiest regions in Italy is probably most known for Milan, but to other Italians, Lombardy is home to countless beautiful and small cities. I had the pleasure of visiting two more cities in this region over my Easter vacation, Brescia and Cremona.
I had met many people from Brescia and they are always quietly proud of their city with it’s immaculate streets, beautiful scenery, kind people and a working subway system. However, the city that is a quiet gem and deserves a mention is Cremona.
Cremona’s most famous exports are sweets, violins (Stradivarius is from here) and Chiara Ferragni (An Italian fashion influencer).
In the middle of the Po Valley, Cremona sits quiet and unassuming but it home to some of the best Luthiers in the world. (A Luthier is a fancy word meaning Violin maker). It is beautiful with a terrribly grand cathedral in the main square, Santa Maria Assunta. The 36th highest bell tower in Europe, Il Torrazzo di Cremona, The museum of Violins which include some of the most highly sought after violins from history and of course the local history museum featuring artwork from Arcimboldo and Caravaggio to name a few.
When you are here you must try to eat Torrone, a type of sweet almond nougat. And, Mostarda, which I find to be very strange. Mostarda sounds like it means mustard (false friend: mustard in Italian is Senape). It is a jar of pickled sweet and spicy fruits. When I say spicy I mean incredibly spicy, but in the way similar to horseradish, not chilli peppers, it is typically served with boiled meats and cheeses. For some reason I can just imagine a tudor court being crazy about this. You can also find typical Italian snacks here like Tramezzini for example.
There you have it, a quick guide to the highlights of Cremona. If you have some time to explore Italy, especially near the Milan area, or if you are a violin enthusiast, you should definitely visit this small wonder.