When you think of violins, Cremona is always at the top of your list. It is one of the most renowned and celebrated violin cities and has a rich cultural and musical legacy. From gothic architecture to the most exquisite violins and cellos, the city of Cremona is truly enticing, and a walking tour of the city will reveal its inspirations.
Cremona has been inspiring some of the best artists born centuries ago
For centuries, it has been a bishopric and an independent commune. Initially, it supported Emperor Frederick I Barbarossa in his conflict with the Lombards out of hostility to Milan; however, it eventually joined the Lombard League (an alliance of northern Italian towns) in 1167. It was ruled by the Visconti family and later by the Sforzas, of Milan, from 1334 to 1535, except for a brief period when it was under Venetian rule (1499–1509). It became Spanish in 1535 and Austrian after 1707.
Nowadays, it’s a pole of violin art. Music and art run through the veins of this city and enchant whoever comes to visit.
Cremona: a legendary city that is full of unforgettable memories.
The ancient city in the northern region of Lombardy is considered the world capital of violin making. It is the home of illustrious musicians and composers such as Claudio Monteverdi, Amilcare Ponchielli, and Alessandro Stradella; many of their works were written for the violin.
Also home to beautiful medieval and Renaissance architecture, including the Torrazzo, Europe’s tallest surviving medieval brick tower and home one of the world’s largest astronomical clocks. The Torrazzo is a symbol of Cremona and is 122.217 meters high!
By exploring Piazza del Comune, dominated by the city’s main structures: the Duomo (cathedral), the Baptistery, and the Palazzo del Comune with its Torrazzo (bell tower) – the city’s symbol. Two other Renaissance-style palaces are also located here: the Fodri and Raimondi Palaces.
The city of the Violin & a place of Music
Today, Cremona has more than 100 violinmaking workshops. Since the 16th century, stringed instruments like violins and violas have been crafted here; today, makers follow in the footsteps of Antonio Stradivari and Niccolò Amati. The historical collections present here to contribute to making Cremona a unique center of violin making at an international level.
The violin craftsmanship of Cremona was recognized as part of the Unesco Intangible Cultural Heritage list in 2012.
From Antonio Stradivari to contemporary violin makers, the craft of making violins has been passed down through generations, and prizes are won at competitions each year by luthiers who follow the tradition of using precious woods and techniques handed down from father to son.
The Cremona Violin Museum is home to some forty-one violins crafted by Antonio Stradivari, including the first violin he ever created and the last one he made in 1737. Alongside these are instruments crafted by other Cremonese masters from the 17th and 18th centuries—notably Guarneri del Gesù and Niccolò Amati—and several lesser-known ones.
A revival of violin making in Cremona wasn’t seen until 1937, 200 years after Stradivari’s death.