One of my “must-see” items in our latest trip to Italy was Museo del Violino in Cremona. Since I play violin and also have an intense attraction towards string instruments in general, this was non-negotiable for me, and Marcin had no choice but to tag along.
Located in Antonio Stradivari's home town of Cremona, Italy, this museum is a must-see for everyone, whether or not you know anything about violins. Centrally located in Piazza Marconi, it is easy to get to and has a parking garage, which makes visiting by car a breeze. Tickets are €10 and include an audio guide.
When you first walk into the museum, you are taken into a hallway filled with the earliest forms of string instruments. The audio guide will explain in detail what each of these were and whey they sounded like. As you progress through the hallway, the instruments get increasingly modern until you reach what we recognise today as a violin. This section is called “Origin of the Violin”.
The end of the hallway deposits you into a replica of a violinmaker’s workshop, where you can see a violin in various stages of construction. Here, interactive media shows you what each part of the violin does and how it is made.
Turn the corner, and you find yourself in a room with a curious looking wooden bubble dominating the space, and walls covered in maps of the world. These maps highlight the spread of the violin across the globe over time. Walk around the wooden bubble and you will find a doorway to enter.
Once you enter, you are enveloped in the rich sounds of some of the world’s most famous violinists playing various pieces. This room was specially constructed for superior acoustics, and I could have sat in there all day basking in the music if Marcin hadn’t dragged me out.
After this room, take a quick look at the tables which highlight the various violinmaking families and where the various violin workshops in Cremona were at the time of Stradivari. The real treat is the dimly lit room you enter after this - “The Treasure Box”.
This is where they keep the very old and very expensive violins made by Stradivari and friends. The oldest of which is from 1505 by Andrea Amati. Take your time to explore this room and admire the workmanship and careful preservation of each of the instruments.
Once you exit the Treasure Box, you enter a room full of Stradivari’s personal belongings including letters and his will. After this you will go through several more rooms full of more modern violins, violas, cellos, and double basses. There are also several videos playing of more modern violinists testing out the violins on display at the museum.
There is also usually a temporary exhibition in addition to the main exhibition. At the time we visited, it was guitars by Antonio de Torres which was also interesting. The museum is also host to a large auditorium which holds concerts played on the historical violins. I highly recommend attending one of these concerts if you have the pleasure of visiting when a concert is being held.
Visitors in autumn of 2018 are in for a treat, since their Triennial Violinmaking Competition will be taking place 7 September through 14 October.
Cremona is a lovely little city and we wish we had spent a little more time there to explore all that it had to offer. Walking through the streets, you will notice a violin shop on almost every block. The city is also host to the world’s largest astronomical clock on the Torrazzo Bell Tower.
Does this make you excited to go see the museum for yourself? What are your personal "must-see" attractions in Europe? Let us know in the comments!
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