Sono appena tornato di Cremona... oh, scusi, back to English: I've just returned from Cremona, Italy. Last year, my wife and I went there for the first time and had a look at the house where Stradivari once lived, visited the Museo Stradivariano where all his tools, templates and so on are exhibited and had a look at some violins/violas made by Stradivari, Guarneri del Gesu and Amati.
A visit to this beautiful city is a real treat for any violinist, especially since the violin and bow makers of Cremona have a showroom where you can try out all the instruments ("only" modern ones there, though).
This year, we took along my parents. Cremona's bell tower, the Torrazzo, is the highest in Italy (111 m/370 ft) and you have to climb only 485 steps to get to the top and enjoy the view. This year, the entrance to the museum and the "Sala dei Violini" in the Palazzo Communale was free (last year it was not), but they charged for climbing the Torrazzo (last year they did not).
Along the streets, alleys and places surrounding the cathedral (1107) you can find violin makers workshops as next door neighbors. Moreover, Cremona also offers architecture, sculpture and paintings galore.
Food is also enjoyable, e.g. gnocchi vecchia Cremona (a traditional recipe, either 600 years old or from the year 600, I forgot), a golf ball size dumpling with a hearty filling, served with melted butter at La Sosta - yumm!
After the vacation, I took up my "normal routine", which besides my normal full-time job includes a chamber music group on Monday night, a chamber orchestra on Thursday night, violin lessons on Thursday afternoon and the occasional quartet session thrown in.