Things to see in Cremona - What to see Cremona







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Things to see - What to see Cremona            (Back to Cremona main information page)  

The Town Square of Cremona is Piazza del Comune, a slightly disjointed medieval square, with a west side formed by the red-brick Loggia dei Militia, formerly headquarters of the town's militia, the arched Palazzo del Comune, and the northeast corner marked by the Romanesque Torazzo.

It was an ongoing centre of the Christian religion and its origin can be traced back to the end of the IV or beginning of the V centuries.

The rigorously organized configuration of roads, piazza, religious and public buildings is regulated by architectural forms and urbanistic relations as an ecclesiastical model, through the link between the cathedral and the town hall, in which the facade of the Duomo and that of the town hall are facing each other.

The working site for the present Cathedral was opened at the beginning of the XII century. Started in 1107, the church was in an advanced state of completion when the earthquake interrupted and largely destroyed the building although it was probably completed in the years 1160-1170.

With a fine west facade made up of Classical, Romanesque and fancy Gothic features, the Cathedral focus on a rose window from 1274. It has beautiful decorations, a fine Annunciation, a frieze of the Months, a charming (and perhaps mystical) Mermaid holding up her forked tail (you will find her in the presbytery). Its most significant interior features are its XVI century nave frescoes, including a superb tromp l'oeil by Pordenone on the west wall, showing the Crucifixion and Deposition, and the XV century pulpits, decorated with finely tortured reliefs.

In the foundations, stones with the prophets Enoch and Elijah are well preserved in the canons' vestry.

The solemn consecration of the altar dedicated to the cathedral's patron saints, S. Archelao and S. Imerio, by the Bishop of Cremona Sicardo took place in 1196.

Next to the duomo, the baptistery, started in 1167, takes up the typical octagonal plan, a symbolic reference to the eighth day of the resurrection and hence, of baptism.

The interior of the baptistery is of medieval architecture with some "Romanesque" characteristics. Indeed, it expresses in an exemplary fashion the authentic contribution of Lombardy gothic architecture.

The Torrazzo is presumably the highest bell tower of Italy, dating between 754 and 1284. The energetic visitor can try to ascend it for some excellent views over the rest of Cremona and around

Apart from the derivation of the typical Lombardy Romanesque tradition, the Torrazzo has been proposed as a "type" of architecture new to the region, the tower-spire, which was developed between the end of the 1200s and the early 1300s.

Its Romanesque dome and the tower originating in Burgundy (end of the XII century) is a harmonic fusion. Its great astronomical clock is one of the main beautiful characteristics: the exterior structure was originally painted by Paolo Scazzola in 1483 and was repainted many times by, among others, the painter G. Battista Natali in 1671, up to the present display dating back to 1974; the clock mechanism, however, is still the original, finished by Francesco Divizioli in 1583.

Immediately opposite the duomo, the Palazzo del Comune has a very select exhibition of some of Cremona's most historic collection of violins ever known, located in the Sala dei Violini. There can be heard the recordings of the different instruments being played while catching a glimpse of the opulent state rooms of the Palazzo del Comune itself. Five violins reminds the visitors of the founders who gave birth to the legendary ?Cremonensis art?, ?Carlo IX of France" (1566), made by Andrea Amati, "La Stauffer 1615" a viola made by Antonio and Gerolamo Amati, "Hammerle" (1658) made by Nicol?Amati, "Quarestani" (1689) made by Giuseppe Guarneri, Andrea's son, "Il Cremonese 1900" made by Antonio Stradivari, and "Lo Stauffer 1734" made by Giuseppe Guarneri detto del Ges? .

Palazzo Affaitati, north of the square, will also be of interest. It holds the Stradivarian Museum whose history can be traced back to 1893 when the city of Cremona accepted Giovanni Battista Cerani's gift, which included some relics belonged to Stradivari. The museum is indeed a collection unique in the world containing models, paper patterns, tools and acoustic diagrams from Stradivari's workshop, along with more violins, violas, viols, cellos and guitars, many of which have elaborately carved scrolls; an enlightening video is also shown unravelling the mysteries of the violin maker's art. The instruments have to be played regularly to keep them in trim.

The most important part of the Museum is that one relevant to the equipment coming from Salabue (1755-18840) considered by historians the greatest collector and expert in the field of bow instruments of his time.

In the same building is a collection of mainly Cremonese art, superbly displayed in striking galleries. Alongside the art are changing exhibitions drawn from the bizarre artefacts and natural history specimens accumulated by Ponzone, the museum's founder.

Worth to see is the Palazzo Raimondi, a dignified building made distinctive by its frescoed cornice. Conceived by the humanist Raimondi, it now houses the prestigious International School of Violin Making and its associated Museo Organologico.

Southwest of Piazza del Comune, stands the Church of San Pietro al Po with some fine frescos, a trompe l?oeil work of Antonio Campi in the transept vaults, and walls coated with paintings and intricate stuccos, also dating from the XVI century. Also to be noticed, on the refectory next door, Bernadino Gatti's fresco of the ?Feeding of the Two Thousand.

The Church of San Sigismondo on the eastern edge of town is also very lovely. Built by Francesco and Bianca Sforza in 1441 to commemorate their wedding, it has a Mannerist d?or, worth among Italy's best, ranging from Camillo Boccaccino's apse fresco to the Pentecost by Giulio Campi. Other highlights include Giulio's Annunciation on the entrance wall, in which Gabriel is seemingly suspended in midair, and the gory John the Baptist in the second left chapel, by Giulio's younger brother Antonio.

The Museo della Civilt?Contadina displays the agricultural history laid out in an old farm, with its row of tiny workers' cottages, the larger houses of the foreman, the immense stable, and the small chapel, giving out a good picture of the strict hierarchy that governed the lives of Italian agricultural labourers over several centuries.


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