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The town of Crema is situated in the centre of the Lombardy region of northern Italy, about 40 kilometres east of Milan. Although it is not a major Lombardy tourist destination it has several sights of interest so find the time to visit when you are nearby.
The interesting heart of Crema old town is based around the Piazza del Duomo, and it is here that you can find the most important buildings, both civic and religious, such as the Cathedral, the Praetorian Palace, the Municipal Palace and the Renaissance “Torrazzo”.
The cathedrl in Crema, which dates back to 1341, is in the Gothic-Lombard style and a work of the Masters of Como. Inside the cathedral there are paintings by Guido Reni (1575-1642, a Baroque painter and apprentice of the Flemish painter Denys Calvaert [1540-1619] and by Carracci (from a family of Bolognese painters, active between the 16th and 17th century), while another important artist in the cathedral is Vincenzo Civerchio (1470-c.1544)
Also close to here you can see the Praetorian Palace attached to the 14th-century tower and bearing a bas-relief of the Lion of San Marco, and the Town Hall, which is an elegant renaissance building from 1525 with a portico, a double row of windows in the Venetian style and some coats of arms of the old podesta (high-ranking officials).
There are numerous churches in Crema that deserve to be mentioned and which contain frescoes of some importance. These include:
- the Church of SS. Trinity on Via XX Settembre,
- Our Lady of Grace on Via Seminario,
- Saint Giovanni Battista on Via Matteotti and
- the Church of Saint Benedict on Piazza Garibaldi
As you explore the old town in Crema you will discover historical small streets and cobbled squares framed by numerous palaces, as well as the Teatro San Domenico, housed in a former church and attached to the Convent of San Domenico.
It is also interesting to see the circular sanctuary of Santa Maria della Croce, a famous work by Bramante (1444-1514) that dates from 1493.
Be sure to visit the Civic Museum in Crema in the former Convent of Saint Augustine and divided into several sections, including an Archaeological section with an extraordinary collection of vessels thought to be from the early Middle Ages and recovered from the shores of the Adda and Oglio Rivers.
The Art Gallery is also interesting and has many important works by local painters: this section provides a broad overview of the major artists from Crema over the course of several centuries, with important works from the 15th and 16th century; frescoes from the church of San Domenico, the former chapel built to the ex Monastery of Dovera; works by Vincenzo Civerchio and frescoes by A. Buso, a local 16th century painter.
The 16th century is represented mainly by the "Nativity" by Tommaso Luini, called the “Caravaggino” (1601-1636), so called for his style which reflects that of Caravaggio and a "Holy Family" by Carlo Urbino (1525-1585), a local painter in the Mannerist style. Some evidence of the Saint Augustine Church, once annexed to the convent of Crema but no longer existing is also exhibited including three altarpieces.
Finally, the collection also exhibits some modern and contemporary art, with particular focus on artists from Crema and region.
Events and leisure in Crema
In Crema you also have the chance to get close to local traditions as the city, for several years, has launched a series of important events during the year; in particular the “Purification of Mary” celebrated in February with an event called the “Feast of the Ceriola”.
Close to Crema in the village of Saint Mary of the Cross there is a fair in late March each year. From December to the last week of January it is also possible to visit the “Nativity of Sabbioni”, while in June the town celebrates the Feast of Saint Pantaleone, the patron saint of the city and the Diocese of Crema.
Food lovers can visit in mid-August for the so-called "Tortellata Cremasca", where you can taste typical local dishes such as “Tortelli Cremaschi”, consisting of ravioli filled with raisins and amaretto. Among other dishes, the so-called "Salva con le Tighe", where "salva" is a typical cheese of the area of Crema and Lodi, while "Tighe" is a local variety of peppers. Also to enjoy is the “Spongarda”, a typical sweet of the city.
See also history of Crema
You can find more local travel ideas in the Lombardy guide.