Cremona - Piazza della Pace
The Province of Cremona is a confluence of rivers and an unusual collection of water bodies within the evocative landscape of the heart of the Po River Valley. This is the Province of Cremona. Lying on the left bank of the Po, it is located on the border between Lombardy and Emilia Romagna, and encompassed by the Rivers Adda, Oglio, (and part of the) Serio and Po.
The Province consists of vast plains broken up by woods and large meadows that, thanks to the canals built by inhabitants in centuries past, has been transformed into an extensive, fertile countryside ideal for agriculture.
For historical and morphological reasons, the Province of Cremona is divided into four distinct areas:
The first is located in the central part of the Province; called "Il Cremonese" zone, it is dominated by the city of Cremona itself.
Then, the second of these lies in the Province's north; with the city of Crema its most important, this zone is known as "Il Cremasco."
The third zone can be found in southern Cremona Province; given its foremost city of Casalmaggiore, it is thus called "Il Casalasco."
Finally, the fourth and last is developed around the cities of Castelleone and Soresina, and expands over the northern central part of the Province: Castelleone borders on Il Cremasco to the west, and Il Cremonese, to the east.
The Province of Cremona is rich with historic and artistic treasures that allow art and culture fanatics to retrace the stages of its development in history: Medieval-era architecture, churches, piazzas, villas and castles in the alluvial plains.
The city of Cremona is without a doubt the springboard for any tour of the Province. Begin in Piazza del Comune, a typical Medieval piazza dominated by the city's most important structures: the Duomo, the Baptistery, the Palazzo del Comune with its famous 364-ft Torrazzo - the emblem of the city - and the Loggia dei Militi. The Fodri and Raimondi Palazzi date from the Renaissance. And the churches of San Sigismondo, San Pietro al Po and Sant'Agostino are all worth a visit. Cremona also owes its fame to the production of the Stradivarius violin, an art continued today in many artisan workshops and the Scuola Liuteria, the School for Stringed Instruments. The one-of-a-kind Stradivarius Museum hosts a vast collection of instruments and relics from the workshop of the "father of the Stradivarius," Antonio Stradivari.
Moving on to nearby Crema, open spaces, piazzas, and historical homes stand shoulder to shoulder with aristocratic residences and their verdant courtyards, monastic buildings, the Piazza del Duomo, the Cathedral and its bell tower.
Another jewel of the territory of Cremona are its castles and fortifications, testifying to the Province's flourishing history: Soncino is a unique example of a citadel with its might fortress, Pizzighettone was a system of fortresses built in the 16th Century, and Pandino dates from the Visconti era.
Among the historic villas are Villa Sommi Picenardi in Torre de’ Picenardi, Villa Manfredi in Cicognolo, Villa Maggio-Trecchi in Vho, and Villa Medici del Vascello in San Giovanni in Croce, to mention a few.
Visit Casalmaggiore to see its Duomo and Santa Chiara Monastery. Adding to the pleasure of a visit or a walk or bike ride, the Po runs right alongside the historic center!
Lombardy is truly a region of magnificent panoramas.
The charm of these ancient cities is enhanced by the unique and evocative beauty of the Po, Oglio, Serio, and Adda Rivers, adorned as they are with long rows of poplars. The environment is fiercely-protected by the people of Cremona, by way of the Parks of Serio and Oglio, the Boscone Farmstead and the Le Bine Natural Reserve.
Cruise and river boats let visitors take river excursions that can continue on land via guided visits of the cities.
More specifically, one exciting mode of travel is by rented pontoon, a floating houseboat that can navigate Po. The visitor can also opt for cycling tours through the spectacular Po Valley countryside.
Among these is “The Tour of Fortified Cities and Castles” that link defensive walls and castles city to city - a unique and intriguing way to explore the Province of Cremona. Some of the stops on this circuit - Crema, Soncino and Pizzighettone - are connected by a protected cycle route.
The cuisine of Cremona brings the characteristic tastes of local farms to the table: cured pork and sausages, including the renowned garlic-scented salami, cotechino with lentils, culatello ham and all types of pork are important for local recipes.
The same goes with pickled fruit (mostarda), made here since the Middle Ages; large slices or whole candied fruit (as opposed to the chopped sort typical to Mantua), are mixed with mustard and must, and cooked until thick. Mostarda pairs rather well well with rich, boiled meat dishes, from beef to local chicken.
Boiled meats are often used in cooking the Marubini in brodo, typical Cremonese pasta filled with Mortadella and liver and served in broth.
Tortelli are also a popular dish in Crema (with its slightly-sweet aftertaste), as are Salva cheese, Bertolina (a sweet focaccia with egg) and the local dessert, the Spingarda.
From the ancient and noble origins of this land comes torrone (nougat); torrone, it is said, was first made in the year 1441, in celebration of the marriage of Bianca Maria Visconti and Francesco Sforza.
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