Cremona the contradictory

Of course the Town Hall was not open for me to see inside… or not until the afternoon when I’d be gone. Indeed the official looked horrified when I asked. But I can’t be sure if this was at my Italian or the idea of a morning opening.  So I wandered.

Cremona celebrates both its famous sons: composer Monteverdi and violin maker Stradivari. There is a Monteverdi Festival occurring: as this banner proclaims, ‘It is not Cremona without Monteverdi.

In his own piazza stands a statue of Stradivari; I liked that his tools were included at his feet.

I saw several music schools and violin makers’ shops, and at least 6 people carrying cases for stringed instruments large and small. Music matters in Cremona.

As do statues. They are everywhere, of every possible subject and in every possible position.

Alongside and atop the statues are pigeons; beneath are bicycles.

Cremona, on the rich agricultural plains of the Po River, is flat, so many people cycle about. They seem to weave effortlessly amongst the pedestrians in the narrow streets as much as the large squares.

The squares or piazzas also host edging cafés… and newspaper stands, just as in Martin Place.

I was able to visit one museum, the Museo Diocesano, modern and well-arranged, full of paintings and statues of Madonnas and Nativity and Crucifixion scenes.

As befits a town first established by the Romans in 218 B.C., cars are banned from its historical centre. Streetside parking is facilitated beyond that. I note that fuel is almost twice the price as in Australia. My friend says that applies to everything in Italy…

I am not sure about access in the old town for the many villas and what seem to be  elegant and ancient equivalents of gated communities.

 I am finding the lack of public toilets somewhat of a problem; how many times must I have a coffee so as to use their toilet? In the biggest café opposite the Duomo, I am surprised that the only toilet is a porcelain-rimmed hole in the floor. I back out; surely I am in the Men’s by mistake? But no, it is the only one.

Ah, Cremona! Ah, Italy…

I do manage to keep the Duomo in sight, do not get lost and even catch the right bus back. As soon as I see the Piacenza hills in the distance, I find myself thinking, ‘Nearly home’.  After three weeks, Salsomaggiore does feel like ‘home’.

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