Cosa vedere a Cremona in un giorno- Piazza del Comune- Torrazzo- Duomo- Battistero- persone

A Brief Guide to Discovering the Beautiful City of Stradivari

Are you looking for a destination that combines art, food, and music for a day trip? Then read on and discover what to see in Cremona in a day!

Cremona is a beautiful city in southern Lombardy, renowned worldwide as the hometown of formidable luthiers like Stradivari and Guarnieri del Gesù. Despite this musical fame, the city’s history dates back to the pre-Roman and Roman periods. Situated on the left bank of the Po River, Cremona served as a crucial crossroads, along with nearby Piacenza, for both land and river routes in Northern Italy. Its prosperity grew with a flourishing river port, leading to the construction of monumental buildings that rivaled those in more prominent centers.

During the decline of the Roman Empire and the early Middle Ages, Cremona underwent periods of changing rulers, including the Lombards and the Holy Roman Empire. A revival occurred in 1093 when the city formed an alliance with Lombard cities, rebelling against Emperor Henry IV. This action granted Cremona the status of a free commune, initiating a development phase that made it one of the wealthiest, most powerful, and populous cities in Northern Italy. Many monuments in the historic center date back to this period, turning Cremona into an Italian gem.

In 1406, Cremona came under the rule of the Visconti family, subsequently becoming part of the Duchy of Milan until the unification of Italy.

After this historical overview, let’s explore what to see in Cremona in a day!

What to see in Cremona: Piazza del Comune

Our itinerary to discover what to see in Cremona in a day starts at Piazza del Comune, the heart of the medieval city. This square houses essential political and religious buildings, seemingly facing each other. The striking contrast between the red bricks and the white stone makes it one of Italy’s most beautiful squares.

The Cathedral

Cremona Cathedral-Piazza del Comune-Torrazzo
Cremona Cathedral and the Torrazzo (Credit to Matteo Marongiu)

Upon arriving in the square, the first thing you notice is the pristine facade of the Cremona Cathedral, considered one of the most beautiful churches in northern Italy. Built in the Romanesque style in the 1100s, it underwent adjustments in various periods, showcasing elements of both Gothic and Baroque architecture.

The facade features a large rose window, a two-story loggia, and a porch housing statues of Saint Imerio, the Virgin Mary, and Saint Omobono. At the base of the columns supporting the porch, you’ll find two lions, popular among tourists for memorable photos.

The Cathedral Interior

The interior consists of three aisles, a beautiful example of Renaissance art. Central nave is adorned with a cycle depicting the life of the Virgin and the passion, painted by renowned artists such as Boccaccino, Bembo, and Melone. The counter-façade is equally impressive, showcasing three exceptional works by Pordenone depicting the crucifixion, deposition, and resurrection. Deposition, in particular, stands out for its perspective, making Christ’s body seem to slide from the wall toward the observer.

In the northern transept, you’ll find the Great Altar Cross made of silver and gold captured from the Milanese after the Battle of Castelleone in 1213. The cross is an intricate assembly of over a thousand pieces, including 160 statues and 50 busts of saints. Before leaving, take a close look at the decorated pulpit, constructed in part from the remains of the Arca dei Martiri Persiani, a Renaissance masterpiece whose remnants are scattered in museums worldwide.

The Torrazzo and the Baptistery

Must-see attractions in Cremona in a day include the Torrazzo and the Baptistery, both accessible with a single ticket.

The Torrazzo, standing at 112 meters, is Europe’s tallest medieval bell tower and an undisputed symbol of Cremona. Its uniqueness lies not only in its height but also in the impressive astronomical clock, considered a masterpiece of ancient mechanics. Preserving its original 16th-century mechanism, it remains one of the world’s largest clocks, with an 8-meter diameter. Ascending to the top requires determination, climbing over 500 steps to enjoy the breathtaking panorama of the city and surrounding countryside.

Since November 2018, to enhance the climbing experience and allow short breaks, the Vertical Museum has been set up. This series of exhibition rooms showcase the clock’s mechanisms, ancient time and astronomical measurement instruments.

On the other hand, the Baptistery, built in 1167 in an octagonal plan to evoke the eighth day, representing Baptism for Christians, complements the Romanesque features of the Cathedral’s exterior. Inside, the brick dome stands out, anticipating Brunelleschi’s two-century-later innovation at Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence. At the center, a beautiful baptismal font made of red marble with a gilded wooden statue of the Risen Christ. Three altars, two elaborately decorated in the Baroque style, complete the interior.

Interior of the Baptistery of Cremona - Baptismal font - altar - brick dome
Interior of the Baptistery (Credit to Matteo Marongiu)

Palazzo del Comune e la Loggia dei Militi

Piazza del Comune of Cremona - Palazzo del Comune - Loggia dei militi - Baptistery
Glimpse of Piazza del Comune with the Palazzo del Comune and the Loggia dei Militi (Credit to Matteo Marongiu)

The opposite side of the square is dominated by two palaces symbolizing Cremona’s political power: Palazzo del Comune and Loggia dei Militi. Dark brick color contrasts with the white marble of the Cathedral, emphasizing the distinction from religious authority. Inside Palazzo del Comune, explore the Violins Hall, the Consulta Hall, and the Painting Hall, hosting the City Council. Here, you can view two large canvases by the Genoese artist, depicting the Multiplication of the Loaves and Fishes and the Last Supper. The Genovesino, a prominent painter of the 17th century, deserves more recognition from contemporary audiences

The Loggia dei Militi derives its name from its function as the meeting place for the Society of Militi, a group of wealthy and eminent Cremonese figures. Built at the end of the 13th century, it follows the typical architectural pattern of Lombard buildings at the time, featuring a spacious portico on the ground floor and an upper floor with pointed-arch windows. Beneath the portico, the coat of arms of Cremona, supported by Hercules, the mythical founder of the city.

What to See in Cremona: The Violin Museum

One of the most fascinating places to visit in Cremona in a day is the Violin Museum. As the city boasts a centuries-old tradition in crafting string instruments, recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage, the museum perfectly narrates this history and unveils the secrets behind their unique sound. Beyond showcasing instruments from master luthiers like Antonio Stradivari and Giuseppe Guarneri del Gesù, the museum utilizes multimedia tools to educate visitors about the violin’s components and the types of wood used in construction. A reconstructed luthier’s workshop, complete with tools, and a dedicated room where visitors can enjoy snippets of violin-themed films enhance the museum experience.

What to see in Cremona in one day - Violin Museum - exhibition hall - violins - Stradivari - visitors
A room of the Violin Museum (Credit to Matteo Marongiu)

What to See in Cremona: The Civic Museum Ala-Ponzone

Among Cremona’s museums and attractions, perhaps one of the lesser-known is the Civic Museum Ala Ponzone. Housed in the beautiful Affaitati Palace, it pleasantly surprises visitors with the quality of exhibited artworks. While many are drawn to see Caravaggio’s San Francesco in meditazione and Arcimboldo’s Ortolano, the museum unveils dozens of captivating paintings by artists like Boccacino, Campi, Gatti, and Melone, sourced from suppressed Cremonese churches. A Music Room dedicated to plucked instruments from Carlo Alberto Carutti’s collection, and the Platina Room housing the Duomo’s inlaid wardrobe from the 16th century, offer additional insights into Cremona’s cultural heritage.

What to see in Cremona in one day - Ala Ponzone Civic Museum - Exhibition hall - paintings
A room of the Ala Ponzone Civic Museum

What to See in Cremona: The Monastery of San Sigismondo

A highly recommended site to explore in Cremona is the Monastery of San Sigismondo. Though somewhat distant from the city center (4km), it’s a masterpiece worth admiring. If you prefer not to take a long walk, like us, take a bus towards Ospedale Maggiore. Don’t be fooled by its simple exterior; the interior is breathtaking. The church’s walls are adorned with one of Lombard Mannerism’s most beautiful pictorial cycles, involving Camillo Boccaccino, the leading Cremonese painter of the time, and later, Bernardino Campi. The stunning Pentecost fresco, featuring apostles arranged in a circle around the vortex of the Holy Spirit, stands out. Equally intriguing are the decorations in the side chapels, the wooden choir, and the organ.

What to see in Cremona in one day - Monastery of San Sigismondo - Frescoes - pictorial cycle - mannerism
Interior of the Monastery of San Sigismondo

What to See in Cremona: Historic Workshops

Cremona’s historic center is dotted with numerous Historic Workshops that have withstood the test of time and changing trends. Among the most sought-after are shops of renowned brands like Sperlari and Vergari, making Cremonese nougat famous in Italy and worldwide.

Historic Sperlari shop - showcases - products on display
Historic Sperlari shop (Credit to Matteo Marongiu)

For a sweet-themed exploration, a visit to Lanfranchi Pastry, founded in the late 19th century, is recommended. It is renowned for being the only one to produce the Pan di Cremona sweet. Two other excellent pastry shops are Duomo Pastry and Ebbli Pastry, where you can still find original Art Nouveau furniture.

As reiterated, Cremona is famous as the city of the violin, and its historic center boasts numerous luthier workshops. Passing by, it’s easy to be captivated by the shop windows displaying beautiful instruments worthy of the finest Cremonese tradition. Many offer guided tours providing a close look at how violins and other string instruments are crafted. While not budget-friendly, these tours can be immensely interesting for the curious visitor.

A luthier's workshop-showcase-violins-frames
A window of a luthier’s shop (Credit to Matteo Marongiu)

What to Eat in Cremona

During your visit to Cremona, you’ll be tempted to enter one of the many osterias offering typical Cremonese dishes. Highly recommended are marubini, tortelli cooked in broth with a filling of beef, veal, and chicken. For the main course, try the Gran Bollito Cremonese, paired perfectly with another Cremona specialty, mostarda, candied fruit with added mustard. In addition to nougat and Pan di Cremona, end your meal with Sbrizulusa, a dry cake made with corn and wheat flour, lard, lemon zest, and a teaspoon of liquor, closely resembling its Mantuan sister, Sbrisolona.

Now that you know what to see in Cremona in a day and what dishes to savor, all that’s left is to decide when to visit.


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What to see in Cremona
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