The origins of Cremona are uncertain, but it was probably founded by the Etruscans. Its real history began with the Romans who, in 218 BC first made it their military stronghold in the Po Valley, as a defence against the Barbarians, and it then became their municipium. It came under the rule of the Byzantines and then the Lombards. Then in 1603, it became the seat of a dukedom and an important cultural centre, thanks to a very important university. Before it was plundered by the Vandals, Cremona reached a high level of richness, thanks to some important reclamation works. It was subsequently the enemy of Milan and Crema, and joined the imperial party from Federico Barbarossa to Federico II, whereas, in 1249, its podesta was Umberto Pelavicino, who made it the centre of a widespread dominion in Lombardy and Piedmont. But powerful Venice wanted Cremona. It was annexed b Venice in 1499, before it was occupied by the Spaniards, under whom it remained until 1702, when it was occupied by the Austrians.
The city and its monuments
In the very middle of the Po Valley, Cremona sees the Po flow in the shadow of its imposing bell tower, 111 meters high. The city found strength and richness through its position, close to the rivers and communication lines but, above all, from its wet and fertile land. A rural landscape with large farmhouses and courtyards developed around the city. Worth seeing: the old town with the bell tower built in two stages and containing 487 steps: the shaft was created in 1267 and the octagonal gothic ghirlanda (a wreath like architectural element) between 1287 and the early XIV century. It\'s worth climbing up all the steps to see the magnificent panorama, which takes in both the Alps and the Apennines. The cathedral building site was opened at the beginning of the XII century. The cathedral includes the Romanesque octagonal Baptistery, crowned by a small loggia inside, covered by an acutely curved dome. The picture is completed by the Soldiers\' Loggia, which was the venue of the meetings of the forces\' commandants, and the Town Hall, the seat of the government of ancient Cremona.
The geographical area
The Cremona province is the typical province of the Po Valley, with an economy based mainly on agriculture. Life rhythms linked to work in the fields, and a home-loving mentality and spirit are characteristics common to towns such as Crema, Grumello Cremonese, Soncino, Isola Dovarese and Casalmaggiore. There are many itineraries winding among the fields and farmhouses, but the area also includes examples of vivacious industrial centres such as Pizzighettone, which can count on many sugar production factories and textile industries. These centres are no longer dotted about at random in the countryside, but, through the years, have achieved a precise articulated structure which has created a true entrepreneurial world. The city is also inseparably linked to the Great River, which has clearly influenced, as it still does so, the lives of its inhabitants. The river port has slightly lost its trading function, but has become highly active in terms of tourism: the motorships enabling tourists to venture in a kind of cruise along the Po to Venice, depart from here.