Cremona: what do do and see

September 27, 2008 at 08:54 PM · I'm visiting a friend in Parma next weekend and we plan to spend a few days in Cremona. I'd be especially interested to look around the Amati, Guernari and Stradivari "houses", but I'm not sure how much there will actually be to see in terms of watching the instruments being made. Also I'd like to play some of the instruments but I suppose this is out of the question. If any of you have been I'd be glad to hear about it...

Replies (24)

September 27, 2008 at 08:56 PM · I know there are many museums devoted completely to the instruments. Just look it up on the internet and you'll find stuff.


September 27, 2008 at 09:10 PM · I wish i had the money to go! how much is your airfair?

September 28, 2008 at 01:06 AM · Russ,

There is alot of good info at on Cremona also many reviews on hotels, restaurants,things to do, maps. I've found it very useful. Some of the reviews are in Italian though.



September 28, 2008 at 06:34 AM · Monday is not a good day to visit. The collection isn't played that day and most of the shops are closed.

September 28, 2008 at 08:43 AM · Don't miss the Eiffel Tower and the Empire State Building :)

You reminded me I played a violin made in Parma itself once. Another one I should have bought. Timing...timing...

September 28, 2008 at 01:20 PM · This isn't about Cremona, but I wanted to suggest that a violin enthusiast visiting Italy at this time may consider trying to attend the Paganini competition in Genova (September 28-Oct 5). It appears the preliminary rounds are free and open to the public. In addition, there may still be tickets available for the finals next weekend.

September 29, 2008 at 03:57 AM · Jim,

Excellent recommendations. If you have an extra day off why not add one of the Disney theme parks, Universal, Hello Kitty Land et al. to your itinerary:)

Enjoy and have a safe trip.


September 29, 2008 at 03:54 AM · I spent the latter part of this evening meeting a pair of hard travelin' musicians. Don't forget to count your blessings, travel-wise. And otherwise-wise. Don't lose 'em either.

September 29, 2008 at 05:40 AM · you picked the perfect weekend to visit:

most of the local makers will be attending this trade show and will have instruments for you to try. Some of the auction houses may also have instruments there for you to try. there should be some exhibitions of vintage instruments - in 2006 there was one on Amati. there are concerts taking place almost every evening of the show.

lots of good restaurants in cremona. i recommend Le Botte (a little hard to find but worth the effort)

If you want to hear the strads and one del Gesu at the Civic Museum you're probably out of luck if you haven't booked in advance. i don't think they audition these instruments during the trade show anyway.

make sure you visit the old heart of the town including the campanile and cathedral. Cremona is a great place for a walking tour.

if you have the chance visit Mantua (Mantova) also... it's a short train ride away.

September 29, 2008 at 09:05 PM · Cremona is definitely a place I want to visit in the future. But like Dan, I also wish I had the money to go. Russ, let us know how your trip goes.


September 29, 2008 at 09:13 PM · I seem to have overlooked the fact that most of you on this site live "across the pond" with Uncle Sam! On the other hand, maybe you overlooked the fact that not EVERYONE on this site lives there! ;-)

Thanks for the advice - especially Jim T. To answer your question, the airfare was £10 (that's about eighteen of your greenbacks), and yes that's a return fare.

I'll send you a postcard from the Sagrada Familia if you like - that's in Europe too...

September 29, 2008 at 10:06 PM · "the airfare was £10 (that's about eighteen of your greenbacks), and yes that's a return fare."

That can't be! Uncle Sam charges more than that to drive you to the airport.

September 29, 2008 at 10:08 PM · what airport is closest to cremona??

September 29, 2008 at 10:53 PM · The $18 one that's two blocks away from it.

September 29, 2008 at 10:49 PM · Russ,

That's good news it's working out. All the best.


September 30, 2008 at 06:03 AM · If you have enough time go to Brescia, where there is a private museum for all sorts of musical instruments and the owner let me try out an old Maggini, and anything else I wanted.Go to the Amati exhibition, in Cremona, it is a better one than the strad one, where you stand in queues and don't get time to look because the next group is already there. I was terribly disappointed as we were allowed about 5 minutes to look, Remenber to eat at the show, the food is cheap and good. Enjoy the late night concert which were a very social event where everyone was busy kissing their friends while the musicians waited!!!If you stay up to the end on Sunday you could be lucky to get an instrument or bow cheaper as they won't have to pack it up and transport it back home. I did! Enjoy, it is a fantastic opportunity. i would go again as soon as I could.

September 30, 2008 at 10:14 AM · Have a negroni cocktail under the arches outside the town hall- just across from the cathedral.

September 30, 2008 at 05:49 PM · Russ,

The Musafia violin cases are made in Cremona. You could always visit their showroom there and see some drop-dead gorgeous cases.

October 4, 2008 at 05:05 PM · When I was young (along time ago) I studied in Cremona. It is a place filled with energy, and many interesting places to visit. Cremona's best resource is its residents. Go out at night, drink coffee (or wine) and talk to as many people as you can. DO NOT interrupt them in the early afternoon, everyone is busy sleeping!!!!!!

October 4, 2008 at 05:42 PM · Ciao Russ,

Lucky you! Cremona is a great city. I was there a couple of years ago for the Mondomusic Festival, which I would highly recommend. Definitely visit the main square, the Cathedral and be sure to climb the Torrazo, which I think is one of the tallest towers in Europe. The view is spectacular. The Stradivari museum is a must see as is the Municipal Collection of Violins. There are literally dozens of working violin shops throughout the city, many of which you can visit. It was interesting to visit Stradivari's house and grave as well but I was expecting something a bit grander given the great man's celebrity.

There are a couple of wonderful restaurants but sadly the names escape me. Not to worry, you'll not be disappointed with the Cremonese cuisine.

Arrivederci, Marty

October 5, 2008 at 01:27 AM · Stradivari's final resting place is actually unknown, the locals will confirm this. I think the city fathers felt they had to come up with something to attract visitors. So, don't go and lay on the grave hoping for some kind of spiritual, or energy transference. ;-) In any case, have a great time. The original Woodstock poster said, you'll never be the same, this also applies to Cremona. GG

October 6, 2008 at 09:45 PM · Probably you already went, but just in case! In Cremona you can't miss the museum with the huge collection of Stradivari instruments - and best of all, there is a man whose job it is to play one everyday to the public. It's a must to hear it played!



October 9, 2008 at 10:40 PM · Well... I was in Cremona last Sunday, and just for the day after all as we didn't get organised with accommodation in time.

The weather was great: bright sunshine and clear blue skies, and for October it was very warm (getting close to 25C).

We started in the Civic Museum where there are several Amatis, Guarneris and Stradivaris. After waiting to be let into the room containing the instruments we were let in in groups of about ten, whilst they started a CD playing, which, rather anachronistically I thought, began with Kreisler's P&A. You're then free to explore this room at will for about fifteen minutes, after which time you're asked to leave because of the people waiting outside. The Stradivari Museum was, contrary to someone's advice above, less busy, and we had more time to browse the fifteen or so instruments on display there, made mainly by Antonio and his two sons.

Taking these two collections together, I must admit that I didn't really know what to expect from these instruments. Of course I know of their reputation as the finest ever made, but I didn't know particularly why, so in this case the trip (pilgrimage?) was to be an edifying one.

Up close they are really impressive just in terms of the craftmanship and their sheer ornateness, in what seems to the naked eye to be "aesthetic perfection" (i.e. no discernible flaws, even at this age). They are really beautiful down to the last detail, such as the direction of the grain on the belly and back, the seamless joints on the back (if present) and the fingerboard/neck join being so smooth as to be hardly noticeable.

I couldn't help feeling I was only getting half (or even less) of the picture though. Is it not, after all, in the sound (tone) of these instruments that they make their distinction? Not being an expert on these three makers, I probably couldn't spot one from a 19th century copy, say, and I certainly couldn't tell one from another without some additional information. Sadly we missed the professional violinist whose job it is to play the collection on a daily basis (well, Sunday in a Catholic country, not surprising I guess!), but we did see him on video. I suppose after all it's a very delicate balance between preserving these instruments and letting them be played for people to enjoy and it serves us right for going on a Sunday!

As for good restaurants, well Cremona does indeed seem to have a few. We found la Botte fairly easily but a large tourist party had arrived, obviously pre-booked, so they were full. The place we ate at was called Il Barbacco - the food was fairly good and quite modestly price, but service was slow.

Before leaving in the evening we took the shuttle bus out to the fair for the last couple of hours. This was a wonderful experience, especially if you are after something in particular (bow, case, stand, etc.). I wasn't and was also constrained by baggage allowances on the flight, but I still found it very interesting and unlike anything I've ever experienced. There are clearly a lot of professional musicians there buying, selling, trading, and testing instruments, so as you walk around there is a continuous cacophony of diverse passages from the repertoire ringing out around the hall.

We also heard a trio play the Goldberg Variations, which was very interesting although I'm not sure how well it worked, and suspect this is why I hadn't seen or heard of this before! They didn't seem well able to play some of the faster and louder passages in the staccato style (favoured by Gould in particular), which I think gives them more of an edge, and the tempo seemed a little slow throughout. I'm not sure whether arrangements are generally a bad thing and this is why they're not always succesful. As my teacher has told me, the cello suites were intentionally written for cello. They're fun to play on the fiddle but don't sound nearly as good.

In short, Cremona's a beautiful city well worth a visit. A day is not long enough to see everything but enough for a taster. I'd definitely like to return at some point.

October 9, 2008 at 11:12 PM · Greetings,

>Stradivari's final resting place is actually unknown, the locals will confirm this.

Can`t they just sniff it out by this stage?



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