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Cremona is a city and comune in northern Italymarker, situated in Lombardy, on the left bank of the Po Rivermarker in the middle of the Pianura Padana (Po valley). It is the capital of the province of Cremona and the seat of the local City and Province governments.



Cremona is first mentioned in history as a settlement of the Cenomani, a Gallic (Celtic) tribe that arrived in the Pomarker valley around 400 BC. However, the name Cremona dates back (most probably) to earlier settlers and puzzled the ancients, who gave many fanciful interpretations. Modern scholars see a possible link to the root 'krem', also found in the Russian Kremlin, which denoted a 'high ground', in what was then a swampland. In 218 BC the Roman established on that spot their first military outpost (a colonia) north of the Po river, and kept the old name. Cremona and nearby Placentia (modern Piacenzamarker, on the south bank of the Po), were founded in the same year, as bases for penetration into what became the Roman Province of Gallia Cisalpina (Cisalpine Gaul). Cremona quickly grew into one of the largest towns in northern Italy, as it was on the main road connecting Genoamarker to Aquileiamarker, the Via Postumia. It supplied troops to Julius Caesar and benefited from his rule, but later supported Marcus Iunius Brutus and the Senate in their conflict with Augustus, who, having won, in 40 BC confiscated Cremona's land and redistributed it to his men. The famous poet Virgil, who went to school in Cremona, had to forfeit his ancestral farm ("too close to wretched Cremona"), but later regained it. The city's prosperity continued to increase until 69, when it was destroyed in the Second Battle of Bedriacum by the troops of Vespasian, fighting to install him as Emperor against his rival Vitellius. Cremona was rebuilt with the help of Vespasian himself, but it seems to have failed to regain its former prosperity as it disappeared from history until the 6th century, when it resurfaces as a military outpost of the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire during the Gothic War.

Early Middle Ages

When the Lombards invaded much of Italy in the second half of 6th century, Cremona remained a Byzantine stronghold as part of the Exarchate of Ravenna. The city expanded towards the north-west, with the creation of a great trenched camp outside the walls. In 603, it was conquered by the Lombard king Agilulf and again destroyed. Its territory was divided between the two duchies of Bresciamarker and Bergamomarker. However, in 615 queen Theodelinda, a devout Roman Catholic intent on converting her people, had Cremona rebuilt and re-installed a bishop there. Control of the city fell increasingly to its bishop, who became a Holy Roman Empire vassal after Charlemagne's conquest of Italy. In this way, Cremona increased its power and its prosperity steadily and some of its bishops had important roles between the 10th and 11th centuries. Bishop Liutprand of Cremona was a member of the Imperial court under the Saxonymarker dynasty and Olderic gained strong privileges for his city from emperor Otto III. Its economy was boosted by the creation of a river port out of the former Byzantine fortress.

However, the two bishops Lambert and Ubaldo created discord with the city's people. Emperor Conrad II settled the quarrel by entering in Cremona in 1037 together with the young Pope Benedict IX.

City logo of Cremona on the town hall.


Under Henry IV, Cremona refused to pay the oppressive taxes requested by the Empire and the bishop. According to a legend, the great gonfaloniere (mayor) Giovanni Baldesio of Cremona faced the emperor himself in a duel. As Henry was knocked from his horse, the city was saved the annual payment of the 3 kg. golden ball, which, for that year, was instead given to Berta, Giovanni's girlfriend, as her dowry. The first historical news about a free Cremona is from 1093, as it entered into an anti-Empire alliance led by Mathilde of Canossa, together with Lodimarker, Milanmarker and Piacenzamarker. The conflict ended with the defeat of Henry IV and his famous humiliation of Canossa to Pope Urban II in 1098. Cremona gained the Insula Fulcheria, the area around the nearby city of Cremamarker, as its territory.

From this time, the new commune warred against nearby cities to enlarge its territory. In 1107, Cremona conquered Tortonamarker, but four years later its army was heavily defeated near Bressanoro. As in many northern Italian cities, the people were divided into two opposing parties, the Guelphs, who were stronger in the new city, and the Ghibellines, who had their base in the old city. The parties were so irreconcilable that the former built a second Communal Palace, the still existing Palazzo Cittanova ("new city's palace").

When Frederick Barbarossa descended into Italy to assert his authority, Cremona sided with him in order to gain his support against Crema, which had rebelled with the help of Milanmarker. The subsequent victory and its loyal imperial stance earned Cremona the right to create a mint for its own coinage in 1154.

In 1162, Imperial and the Cremonese forces assaulted Milan and destroyed it. However, in 1167 the city changed side and joined the Lombard League. Its troops were part of the army that, on May 29, 1176, defeated Barbarossa in the Battle of Legnano. However, the Lombard League did not survive this victory for long. In 1213, at Castelleonemarker, the Cremonese defeated the League of Milanmarker, Lodimarker, Cremamarker, Novaramarker, Comomarker and Bresciamarker. In 1232, Cremona allied itself with Emperor Frederick II, who was again trying to reassert the Empire's authority over Northern Italy. In the Battle of Cortenuova, the Cremonese were on the winning side. Thereafter Frederick often held his court in the city. In the Battle of Parma, however, the Ghibellines suffered a heavy defeat and up to two thousand Cremonese were made prisoners. Some year later Cremona took its vengeance by defeating Parma's army. Its army, under the command of Umberto Pallavicino, captured Parma's carroccio and for centuries kept the enemy's trousers hanging from the Cathedral'smarker ceiling as a sign of the rival's humiliation.

In 1301 the troubadour Luchetto Gattilusio was podestà of Cremona. During this period Cremona flourished and reached a population of up to 80,000, larger than the 69,000 of 2001.


In 1266, Pallavicino was expelled from Cremona, and the Ghibelline rule ended after his successor Buoso da Dovara relinquished control to a consortium of citizens. In 1271 the position of Capitano del Popolo ("People's Chieftain") was created. In 1276 the signore passed to marquis Cavalcabò Cavalcabò, who in 1305 was succeeded by his son Guglielmo Cavalcabò, who held power until 1310. During this period many edifices were created or restored including the belfry of the Torrazzomarker, the Romanesque church of San Francis, the Cathedral's transepts and the Loggia dei Militi. Moreover, agriculture was boosted with a new network of canals. After some foreign invasions (notably that of Emperor Henry VII in 1311), the Cavalcabò lasted until November 29, 1322, when a more powerful family, the Visconti of Galeazzo I, came to prominence that in Cremona was to last for a century and a half. The Visconti's signore was interrupted in 1327 by Ludwig the Bavarian, in 1331 by John of Bohemia, and in 1403 by a short-lived return of the Cavalcabò. On July 25, 1406, the captain Cabrino Fondulo killed his employer Ubaldo Cavalcabò along with all the male members of his family, and assumed control over Cremona. Later, as he was revealed as unable to face the task, he ceded back the city to the Visconti for a payment of 40,000 golden florins.

Thus Filippo Maria Visconti made his signore hereditary. Cremona became part of the Duchy of Milanmarker, following its fate until the unification of Italy. Under the Visconti and later the Sforza Cremona underwent high cultural and religious development. In 1411 Palazzo Cittanova become the seat of the University of fustian merchants. In 1441 the city hosted the marriage of Francesco I Sforza and Bianca Maria Visconti in the temple built by the Benedictines, which today is the church of Saint Sigismund. In that occasion a new sweet was devised, which was later turned into the famous torrone. Ludovico il Moro supported the building of several operas for the Cathedral, the church of St. Agatha and the Communal Palace.

In 1446 Cremona was encircled by the condottieri troops of Francesco Piccinino and Luigi dal Verme. The siege was raised after the arrival of Scaramuccia da Forlì from Venicemarker.

Foreign occupations

From 1499 to 1509 Cremona was under Venetian control. The victory of the Italian League at Agnadello gave it back to the Duchy of Milan. However, the latter was assigned to Spainmarker under the Treaty of Noyon (1513). Cremona fell to the new rulers only in 1524 when the Castle of Santa Croce surrendered. The French were finally expelled from the duchy two years later, with the Treaty of Madrid, and subsequently Cremona remained for long a foreign dominion. This did not prevent from further embellishments like the Loggia of the Cathedral's Porch by Lorenzo Trotti (1550) or the new church of San Siro and Sepolcro by Antonio Gialdini (1614).

The Spanish rule was mediocre. Unable to face the famine of 1628 and the plague of 1630, the duchy, after a short-lived French conquest in 1701 during the War of Spanish Succession, passed to Austria on April 10, 1707.

For later history, see Lombardy

The Cathedral and the Baptistery of Cremona.

Main sights


The Cathedral of Cremonamarker and the annexed Baptistery constitutes one of the most notable sites for Romanesque-Gothic art in northern Italy.

Other churches include:


See also:


The economy of Cremona is deeply linked to the agricultural production of the countryside. Food industries include salted meat, sweets (torrone), vegetable oils, cheese and Italian mustard. Heavy industries include steel, oil and one electric plant. The river-port is a base for the barges transporting goods along the Po river.


Cremona has a distinguished musical history. The 12th century cathedral was probably the focus of organized musical activity in the region in the late Middle Ages. By the 16th century the town had become a famous musical centre. Nowadays there are important ensembles for Renaissance and Baroque music, i.e. Choir & Consort Costanzo Porta, and festivals which maintain Cremona as one of the most important towns in Italy for music. Composer Marc'Antonio Ingegneri taught there; Claudio Monteverdi was his most famous student, before leaving for Mantuamarker in 1591. It was also the birthplace of Pierre-Francisque Caroubel, a collaborator with noted German composer Michael Praetorius. The bishop of Cremona, Nicolò Sfondrati, a fervent supporter of the Counter-Reformation, became Pope Gregory XIV in 1590. Since he was an equally fervent patron of music, the renown of the town as a musical destination grew accordingly.

From the 16th century onwards, Cremona was renowned as a centre of musical instrument manufacture, beginning with the violins of the Amati family, and later included the products of the Guarneri and Stradivari shops. To the present day, their work is widely considered to be the summit of achievement in string instrument making. Today Cremona is still renowned for producing instruments of high quality.


Like in many other Italian cities, Cremona's favourite sport is football. The U.S. Cremonese played for several years in Serie A, its most renowned players being Aristide Guarneri, Emiliano Mondonico, Antonio Cabrini and Gianluca Vialli - all born in or near Cremona. The brightest page in the more than one century old history of Cremonese was written in the early 1990s, when President of the team was Domenico Luzzara and the coach was Gigi Simoni; the team managed to stay in Serie A for 3 consecutive years, ending one of the championship at the tenth place. On March 27, 1993, by defeating English team Derby County in the Final to win the Anglo-Italian Cup, Cremonese became the second Italian team in football history to win at Wembleymarker.

Cremona has also a first-division waterpolo club and, by the 1980s, had built a strong basketball tradition, now brought on by Gruppo Triboldi, a team from Soresinamarker which however plays usually in Cremona. There is also a century-old tradition in rowing and canoe racing, with three differents clubs, located along the Po river, that trained many world and olympic champions. One of its most famous sprint canoers was Oreste Perri, mayor of Cremona since 22 June 2009.

Notable people

Notable painters and architects

External links

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