Cremona is a reference point for the art of violin-making in the world and boasts some of the most significant monuments of the past, like the Cathedral, the Baptistery, and the splendid Town Hall square.
The museums testify not only the archeological importance of the town and the famous art of the Renaissance painters but also the history of the celebrated violin-makers, among which the Amati, Guarneri del Gesù, and the great Antonio Stradivari: the theatres celebrate the music of Monteverdi and Ponchielli.
The relationship of the town of Cremona with the river Po is direct, energetic and instinctive.
The territory of Cremona extends itself to Casalasco, rich in villas and castles and a valuable collection of art in the churches and palaces, the Venetian walls of Crema, the castles of Pandino and Soncino and the fortified remains of Pizzighettone.
The region has such a variety of landscapes, and no city can fully encapsulate all that Lombardy is. Cremona is a special place that embodies many of its region’s values: purposeful hard work, quiet solidity, piousness, and belief in commerce, love of culture, and art.
Although opera reaches its zenith at Milan’s Teatro alla Scala, the first great opera composer, Claudio Monteverdi (1567-1643) was from Cremona. So too is Mina, Italy’s foremost famous singer, whose status as a living legend is comparable to that of Barbra Streisand in the United States.
Cremona has a distinguished musical history. The 12th-century cathedral was probably the focus of organized musical activity in the region in the late Middle Ages. By the 16th-century, the town had become a famous musical center.
Nowadays there are essential ensembles for Renaissance and Baroque music, i.e., Choir & Consort Costanzo Porta, and festivals which maintain Cremona as one of the most important towns in Italy for music. Composer Marc Antonio Ingegneri taught there; Claudio Monteverdi was his most famous student, before leaving for Venice in 1591.
The bishop of Cremona, Nicolo’ Sfondrato, a fervent supporter of the Counter-Reformation, became Pope Gregory XIV in 1590. Since he was an equally ardent patron of music, the renown of the town as a musical destination grew accordingly.
For anyone who loves the violin, Cremona is Mecca. Here is where Antonio Stradivari (I644-I737), maker of the most beautiful stringed instruments ever crafted, was born and worked. He was the inventor of the cello (violoncello). Other fine violin makers in Cremona were Amati and Guarneri. In the city hall are several of these violins, which are played every day to keep them in tune. Be sure to visit the violin collection in the Palazzo d’Arte.
I suspect that the creativity of the cremonesi is in part a product of their substantial cuisine. Most agricultural statistics indicate that the farms in the province of Cremona are the most productive in Italy. This is in the middle of Padania, the fertile plain of the Po River valley.
There are beef cows and dairy cows. The former wind up as the secondo at many cremonese meals. The latter produce rivers of milk used to make several beautiful kinds of cheese plus butter and cream.
A distinctive flavor here is mostarda, which gives a unique tang and sweetness to many of the dishes in cremonese cuisine, including tortelli di zucca and bollito misto.
The food of Cremona surely is not light, but it is more subtle than one would expect from a place that relies on the cow for much of its sustenance.
Cremona also vies with Benevento in Campania and a few other towns as the home of the famous torrone. Where it was created is a matter of debate, but there is no doubt that the version made in Cremona is the most famous.
An unusual specialty typically identified with Cremona, in the Lombardia region of Italy, traditional Mostarda is a mixture of whole fruits preserved in simple syrup and mustard oil. Mostarda’s origin goes back to the honey, mustard, oil and vinegar condiments of the Roman Empire.
The word mostarda derives from the French, moutarde, which in turn derives from mout ardent-a fiery condiment made by adding an essence of mustard to unfermented grape must and cooking it down.
It also derives from the traditional cugna of Piedmonte. This is a jam made from boiled down grape must which is spiced with ground mustard and mixed with fruit. During the Renaissance, sweeteners were difficult and expensive to obtain, so mostarda was enjoyed primarily by the aristocracy.
Most modern visitors to Italy recall seeing mostarda served with bollito misto, the famous boiled meat dish of the North.
Where to stay in Cremona
There are hotels, apartments, condo hotels, and B&Bs available, check it out and make a reservation here.
Lombardia in Cucina: The Flavours of Lombardy
Milan-style risotto, pizzoccheri Valtellinesi, and pumpkin tortelli to start; casoeula, Milan-style cutlets, frogs stewed in tomato to follow, and to send, a slice of sbrisolona cake or panettone.
Lombardy surprises with the richness of its culinary traditions and natural ingredients, which modernity has barely affected.
"Milano in Cucina" captures this kaleidoscope of flavours, with contributions from some of the most celebrated chefs on the culinary scene, who pay homage to their territory, and whose skill is able to present a modern vision in keeping with the region's progressive spirit.
The Italian Academy of Cuisine
La Cucina: The Regional Cooking of Italy
Fifty years ago, a group of Italian scholars gathered to discuss a problem: how to preserve traditional Italian cooking. They formed the Italian Academy of Cuisine to document classic recipes from every region. The academy’s more than seven thousand associates spread out to villages everywhere, interviewing grandmothers and farmers at their stoves, transcribing their recipes—many of which had never been documented before. This is the culmination of that research, an astounding feat—2,000 recipes that represent the patrimony of Italian country cooking. Each recipe is labeled with its region of origin, and it’s not just the ingredients but also the techniques that change with the geography. Sprinkled throughout are historical recipes that provide fascinating views into the folk culture of the past. There are no fancy flourishes here, and no shortcuts; this is true salt-of-the-earth cooking. The book is an excellent everyday source for easily achievable recipes, with such simple dishes as White Bean and Escarole Soup, Polenta with Tomato Sauce, and Chicken with Lemon and Capers. For ease of use there are four different indexes. La Cucina is an essential reference for every cook’s library.
Milano in Cucina: The Flavours of Milan
The famous Risotto Alla Milanese gets its golden hue from the precious spice saffron. Legend has it that the dish came about when a Milanese painter decided to gild the risotto served at his wedding banquet with a harmless gold-colored dye. In Milan, they traditionally serve Risotto Alla Milanese with ossobuco (braised veal shank).
Traditionally made with raisins and candied citron, or with a creamy cream filling, the light, fluffy brioche-like bread called panettone may be tall or short, covered with chocolate or flavored with various liquors, but it’s always a symbol of the Christmas season.
With its hallmark domed shape, panettone graced Christmas tables in Milan since at least the 15th-century. Common knowledge claims its invention is from Milan. It is the most famous Christmas Lombardia food.
The Pax side of the Moon featuring Cesareo
Lombardia (Dicon tutti che sei mia) Quarantine Version - feat. Cesareo (Quarantine Version)