Cremona Things to Do

  • Stradivari Square.
    Stradivari Square.
    by IreneMcKay
  • Stradivari Square.
    Stradivari Square.
    by IreneMcKay
  • Stradivari Square.
    Stradivari Square.
    by IreneMcKay

Most Recent Things to Do in Cremona

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    Antonio Stradivari (1644-1737)

    by Nemorino Updated Mar 25, 2016

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    Cremona is famous for its long tradition of violin making. It was started in the 16th century by a man named Andrea Amati, who is considered the inventor of the violin. Amati's sons and grandson continued the tradition, and the grandson Nicolò Amati was (probably) the teacher of the greatest of them all, Antonio Stradivari, who in his long life made vast numbers of violins, violas and cellos.

    Stradivari is said to have built over 1,100 instruments, of which 650 still exist today. No one knows exactly why his violins sound so wonderful. The quality of the wood? The shape of the instrument? The thickness of the wooden plates in the belly and the back of the instrument? The varnish of the wood?

    One theory is that the wood he and his contemporaries used was particularly dense because his lifetime coincided with the "Little Ice Age", when temperatures throughout Europe were unusually low. This caused the trees to grow slower and produce unusually dense wood.

    Whatever the reasons, his Stradivarius violins are still considered to be among the finest ever made. In 2006 one of them was sold in an auction for over three and a half million dollars.

    Second photo: The art of violin making has been passed on from one generation to the next for over four hundred years, and even now there are numerous violin makers in Cremona. The signs pointing to their workshops include the English translation, "Violin Maker," in case prospective buyers don't know what "liutaio" means.

    Third photo: Here are some locally-made violins (but not very expensive ones!) on display in a window at the Tourist Information office.

    Website: http://www.stradivariusviolins.org/

    1. Statue in Piazza Stradivari, Cremona 2. Signs pointing to liutaio workshops 3. Locally-made violins on display
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    Piazza Lodi

    by IreneMcKay Written Jan 11, 2015

    Piazza Lodi has a statue of the composer Claudio Monteverdi in its centre. Monteverdi was born in Cremona in 1567. He is credited with writing the first ever opera - L'Orfeo. He died in Venice in 1643 aged seventy-six. Monteverdi had a huge influence on the world of music.

    Monteverdi.
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    The Ponchielli Theatre

    by IreneMcKay Written Jan 10, 2015

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    On the walk back from the River Po we passed the Ponchielli Theatre. The original theatre at this site dated from 1747 when some local noblemen decided to present the town with a public theatre. The theatre was designed by Cremona architect Giovanni Battista Zaist. Unfortunately that building was destroyed by fire in 1806. The current Ponchielli Theatre is named after Amilcare Ponchielli the great Cremona operatic composer.

    The Ponchielli Theatre.
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    The River Po

    by IreneMcKay Written Jan 10, 2015

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    Our problem was that the River Po was not actually on our map and I was convinced the Church of San Pietro al Po must be on the river, so we went the wrong way to the river. Well, not so much wrong as round about and indirect. It took us a long time to get there and not very much time to get back to the centre.

    The River Po was actually quite beautiful with the weak wintery sun reflecting on its waters. As we were gazing into the river a small fishing boat passed by.

    The River Po Fishing boat on the Po. The River Po Monument on the River Po.
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    The Church of San Pietro al Po

    by IreneMcKay Updated Jan 10, 2015

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    The church of San Pietro al Po dates from 1563. We walked all the way here because I had read the interior was beautiful. It was unfortunately closed. The exterior was quite plain. There was a nativity scene at the front of the church.

    From its name I expected this church to be on the River Po, but it is not.

    The Church of San Pietro al Po The Church of San Pietro al Po.
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    Cremona Town Hall

    by IreneMcKay Written Jan 10, 2015

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    The Palazzo Comunale located on Piazza del Commune is Cremona's old town hall. It was built in the early thirteenth century. There are frescoes under the portico. We did not go inside, but apparently there are some traditionally decorated rooms inside plus exhibitions of stringed instruments.

    Cremona town hall Under the portico Cremona town hall.
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    Cremona Cathedral

    by IreneMcKay Written Jan 10, 2015

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    Cremona Cathedral is known as the Cattedrale di Santa Maria Assunta in Italian. It is the seat of the Bishop of Cremona.

    Construction of the cathedral began in 1107 and the building was probably finished in around 1170.

    Inside the cathedral there are frescoes of the Stories of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph among others.

    Pairs of lions guard the outside of the cathedral and nearby baptistry. The facade of the cathedral has a lovely rose window and many sculptures.

    Cremona Cathedral Cremona Cathedral Cremona Cathedral
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    The Loggia dei Militi

    by IreneMcKay Written Jan 10, 2015

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    The Loggia dei Militi means the loggia of the soldiers. This building is on the Piazza del Comune next to the town hall. Its portico contains the emblem of Cremona which is being held by the city's mythical founder Hercules. The Loggia dei Militi dates from 1292.

    The Loggia dei Militi The Loggia dei Militi The Emblem of the  City. The Loggia dei Militi
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    The Piazza del Comune

    by IreneMcKay Updated Jan 10, 2015

    The Piazza del Comune is Cremona's main square. It is surrounded by beautiful buildings such as Cremona's lovely cathedral, its tall bell tower, its town hall, the loggia dei Militi and the baptistry. Cremona's tourist office is also located here.

    Cremona's tall bell tower is known as the Torazzo. It was built in the middle of the thirteenth century. It has a clock dating from 1583. The Torazzo is 112 metres high making it the highest medieval tower in Italy. We did not go up it, but apparently there are lovely views from the top.

    We did go in the cathedral which had wonderful paintings inside.

    The Baptistry is an octagonal shaped building dating from the late twelfth century.

    The Cathedral and Baptistry. The Cathedral and the bell tower. Cathedral and bell tower. The town hall.
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    Stradivari Square.

    by IreneMcKay Updated Jan 10, 2015

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    Cremona was the birthplace of world famous violin maker Antonio Stradivari. He was born in Cremona in 1644 and lived here till his death in 1737. His violins have the best sound of any violins in the world and are very valuable. As well as violins Stradivari also made other stringed instruments such as cellos, guitars, violas, and harps.There is a square named after him in his home town with a statue of Stradivari passing on his violin making skills to the youth. Stradivari lived a long and productive life dying at the age of 93. He is buried in the Church of San Domenico in Cremona.

    Stradivari Square is right next to the Piazza del Comune where Cremona's cathedral is located.

    Stradivari Square. Stradivari Square. Stradivari Square. Stradivari Square. Stradivari Square.
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    The River Po

    by Nemorino Updated Sep 26, 2014

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    Cremona is located on the left bank of the Po River, which is the longest river in Italy. It starts in the Alps and flows in a generally West-to-East direction across all of northern Italy, before emptying into the Adriatic Sea near Venice.

    Since I live in Germany I suppose I should mention that in German the word Po means butt, so if the Germans start sniggering when they come to this river you will know why. A popular form of gymnastics in Germany for young or not-so-young women is called "BBP" meaning "Beine Bauch Po" (Legs Belly Butt) as it is intended to get those parts of the body firmed up.

    Update: Thanks to VT member toonsarah for pointing out that in England this kind of gymnastics is called LBT = Legs, Bums & Tums.

    And thanks to tiabunna for informing me that many years ago, when chamberpots were in use, the colloquial term for them in Australia was a 'po'.

    Second photo: People strolling along the dike on the left bank of the Po River.

    Third photo: To cycle from Cremona to Busseto you first have to cross the Po River on this long bridge, which fortunately has a separate lane for pedestrians and cyclists. (It makes funny noises when you ride across it, but as far as I know it's perfectly safe.)

    Fourth photo: Cyclists coming off the bridge.

    Directions: 45° 7'42.64" North; 9°59'41.10" East

    Website: http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/ngm/0205/feature6/

    1. Po River on the outskirts of Cremona 2. People strolling on the dike 3. Bridge over the River Po 4. Cyclists coming off the bridge
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    Claudio Monteverdi (1576-1643)

    by Nemorino Updated Mar 22, 2014

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    Opera was an invention of the Renaissance, starting around the year 1600.

    Perhaps the world's first full-scale opera, or one of the first, was L'Orfeo by Claudio Monteverdi, composed in 1607. I have seen L'Orfeo several times in Frankfurt am Main and once, in a very different production, in Darmstadt. More recently, I saw a brilliant production of L’Orfeo (saw it twice, in fact, because I liked it so much) done by young singers, dancers and musicians at the opera house in Reims, France.

    Monteverdi was born in Cremona in 1576 and lived here for the first fifteen years of his life, until 1591. He probably received his first musical training at the Cremona Cathedral from the composer Marc'Antonio Ingegneri (1547-1592).

    At age fifteen Monteverdi moved to Mantua, where he was employed first as a singer and viola player, later as the orchestra conductor, at the court of Duke Vincenzo I of Gonzaga. In his forties Monteverdi moved to Venice, where he spent the rest of his life as the musical conductor and resident composer at the Basilica of San Marco.

    In addition to madrigals and other religious music, Monteverdi composed some eighteen operas, but the only ones that have survived are L'Orfeo from the year 1607, Combattimenti (1624), Il ritorno d'Ulisse in patria (The Return of Ulysses, 1641) and L'incoronazione di Poppea (The Coronation of Poppea, 1642). I have seen beautiful productions of all of these in Frankfurt am Main in recent years (and Poppea also in Stuttgart).

    Second photo: When I was in Cremona they were advertising a Monteverdi Festival, to be held in May 2008.

    Third photo: Here's a photo from one of my Innsbruck tips, showing a portrait of Claudio Monteverdi along with some historical musical instruments at the Tiroler Landesmuseum Ferdinandeum.

    1. Monteverdi statue in Piazza Lodi, Cremona 2. Monteverdi Festival poster 3. Monteverdi's portrait in Innsbruck
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    Cycling to Busseto

    by Nemorino Updated Dec 28, 2012

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    After coming off the bridge you soon come to these signs pointing to the hiking, strolling and cycling route along the right bank of the Po River.

    There is no sign pointing to Busseto, but since the direction was right I took it, and it turned out to be an excellent and virtually car-free cycling route.

    Second photo: Cars are only allowed on this route for a short distance, to reach a popular restaurant, but after this point the road is reserved for hikers, cyclists and tractors.

    Third photo: Here's a sign marking the "percurso ciclotouristico" (cycling tourists' route) "Via Po", showing that it is open to hikers and strollers (note that they have two different symbols for these) and of course for cyclists, but off limits to cars. This route goes along a dike which is not directly on the river bank, but a ways inland, sort of a second line of defense against flooding.

    Fourth photo: Looking back at Cremona from the cycling route along the dike.

    Fifth photo: There is a smooth asphalt surface along the dike for ten kilometers or more. The surface turns to gravel shortly after you pass the village of Soarza, but continue on until you reach a place called Ongina, which is where the composer Giuseppe Verdi (1813-1901) used to raise horses. Turn right there, and ride south along a stream, also called the Ongina, to reach Villa Verdi and later the town of Busseto.

    1. Signs on the right bank of the Po River 2. No cars allowed from this point onwards 3. Sign indicating the walking and cycling route 4. Cremona from across the river 4. Paved route along the dike
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    Piazza Roma

    by Nemorino Written Apr 12, 2008

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    More of a park than a square, the Piazza Roma is the location of this statue of the Italian patriot, philosopher and politician Giuseppe Mazzini (1805-1872).

    Mazzini's goal was to end foreign rule in Italy, and to achieve Italian independence and unity under a democratic government. When independence and unity were finally achieved in 1861, Mazzini was disappointed because the united Italy took the form of a kingdom, not a democratic republic. He died in Pisa in 1872.

    Website: http://www.ohiou.edu/~chastain/ip/mazzini.htm

    Mazzini statue in Piazza Roma, Cremona
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    Palazzo Affaitati

    by Nemorino Updated Apr 12, 2008

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    This palace from the second half of the sixteenth century now houses the public library, the Civic Museum and Art Gallery, the Archeological Collection and the Stradivari Museum.

    Unfortunately I wasn't able to visit any of these museums during my two short visits to Cremona, but here are the opening hours:

    • Weekdays 9:00 - 18:00
    • Sundays and holidays 10:00 - 18:00
    • Closed on Mondays

    Address: Via Ugolani Dati 4 - 26100 Cremona

    Directions: 45° 8'16.25" North; 10° 1'17.32" East

    Phone: 0372/407770

    Website: http://musei.comune.cremona.it/

    Palazzo Affaitati
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