(Filed under Emilia Romagna. Close enough ;))
When I asked master violin maker Robert Gasser if I can stop by at his workshop in Cremona, he asked me if I play the violin. Before I said no, I quickly checked to see if there’s a violin version of Guitar Hero. Turns out its a no! Also, turns out master violin makers close sometimes for lunch, as we painfully found out while touring Violinville. But that’s ok. We got a good taste of what this gem of a city is all about. Until I had to call AT&T to upgrade my data plan, and in turn have my phone completely disconnected somehow for the rest of the day.
Before Robert Gasser there was the Amati family, building violins in Cremona from 1538 to 1740. Other families like the Stradivari followed suit, and the city’s connection to the violin never looked back. Nowadays, you got violin maker workshops, bow makers workshops, statues, schools, and yes.. the all important violin shaped chocolates and cakes. Violins are everywhere your turn. And if you are a music lover, or can really rock Guitar Hero, you may find the Violin Museum very interesting. Convenient public parking is right across the street.
But there’s more to Cremona than violins. The Duomo with its magnificent façade and frescos is one of the most underrated in Italy. At some point we found ourselves almost alone, while we prayed for world peace, and for the AT&T rep to get shingles. The climbable bell tower is the tallest pre-modern tower in Italy, hence the symbol of the city. The baptistery even with all its nakedness looks rather glamorous inside.
Cremona is as non-touristy as they come seems like for a large city. Extremely clean and very bike friendly. For a New Yorker like me, seeing older ladies riding bikes is always a Kodak moment, and right up there with attractive young women collecting garbage. Food wise, I was in a way glad I could not find the pizza place I planned on due to my phone not working. Because plan B turned out to be quite good. Tramezzini are soft white bread with the crust removed, and judging by the lines, Ugo Grill is the place to get them. Because of the lack of crust and the texture of these sandwiches you are in the mercy of the place delivering high quality ingredients, and Ugo certainly does, starting with their homemade mayo.