When I visit Italy, I balance my time with research, travel, studying Italian, and learning about Italy’s many contributions to art, culture, science, and history.
One of the highlights [on a previous visit] was returning to Cremona to tour the Violin Museum recognized around the world as one of the most valuable collections of violins created by the early masters of the craft, Antonio Stradivarius, and the Amati and Guarneri families.
My wife and I bought tickets to the museum just before noon and noticed a concert beginning in a few minutes with a violinist who would perform with a violin made by Antonio Stradivarius in 1669. Within minutes we were seated in an intimate but elegant theater. An armed police officer was standing by a table near the grand piano guarding the 350-year-old Stradivarius violin.
When the performer, Aurelia Macovei, entered the theatre, she was warmly greeted with applause. Ms. Macovei picked up the violin, tuned it with a few gentle strokes, then announced her first selection.
For the next 45 minutes we were treated to a performance of 15 concerti (no photos allowed during the concert). An amazing, once in a lifetime experience.
After the concert, we toured the Violin Museum which has impressive displays and exhibits of the craft of violin making. Consider the many intricacies of creating a violin — selecting the right woods, carving with precision tools to make the bridge, neck, scroll, finger board, belly, chin rest, and ribs. There are more than 30 separate wooden parts of a violin. And then the strings.
The most famous violin maker (luthier) in Cremona was Antonio Stradivarius (1644 – 1737). But Stradivarius was not the only luthier in Cremona, two other families were the Amati and Guarneri who also apprenticed young luthiers.
Stradivari, Amati, and Guarneri violins are worth millions, regarded as the finest in the world. Several Stradivari, Amati, and Guarneri violins are displayed in a special hall, each with date they were made and a distinctive name.
Cremona honors Stradivari with statues in front of the museum and Piazza Stradivari, the city’s main square. Cremona is a two-hour train or drive from Milano. If you are planning a trip to Italy, consider an excursion to Cremona to tour the Violin Museum. You will be impressed and understand why it is a very special destination. A presto!