If are arriving in Italy by way of Milan, you might consider spending a few days in the delightful town of Cremona. I wrote a bit about Cremona awhile back, but that was only after a short day trip there. If you have the time, spend a few days to discover this quintessential Italian town.
We found a lovely apartment in the town center, not far from the Museo del Violino, The Violin Museum. Cremona is famous for its violin makers and above all, the Stradivari Family, who first started making violins in the early 1600’s. Visit the museum to learn all about the history of the violin and see wonderful multimedia presentations about how violins are made. This is where you can see some of the famous violins of both the Stradivari and Guarneri masters. Most weekends you can catch a short concert in their beautiful auditorium. Check their website for the many special concerts of the Stradivari Festival or other musical events.
Throughout the old town center, you can find many Luthier shops—where the Maestro Liutaio is working on his or her craft. We walked into one shop and there were two students and one master each working on a violin. Cremona has a famous international school of violin makers, so there are students from all over the world living and working in this city.
Whether you’re into music or not, Cremona is a great town for strolling their pedestrian only streets for shopping or relaxing on one of the many picturesque piazzas. In early September, everyone was still eating and drinking alfresco. We found great sandwich shops serving Tramezzini for lunch. These traditional sandwiches have a wide selection of offerings and are definitely a great choice for a light lunch. We enjoyed ours on Piazza Stradivari, a pleasant spot to sit outside.
In the evenings, the happy hour is a bustling scene with outdoor seating and often music on all of the main piazzas. Cremona has a wide variety of restaurants, but it’s a good idea to make a reservation for your favorites during the busy summer season. In early fall, the town gets less crowded, and you still have some balmy nights to enjoy. The weekends can get busy here because Cremona is a popular weekend get away for the locals from Milan and other larger cities.
Another fun way to explore this pleasant town is by bike. Cremona offers bike rentals throughout the town and you’ll also find several dedicated bike lanes and scenic bike routes throughout the area. Like many of the cities in the Po Valley, it’s flat and easy to explore by bicycle.
Another big plus—you can reach Cremona by train. One more reason to venture out and explore this beautiful historic town in the Po River Valley.