Situated along the banks of the river Po, Cremona has played an important role in Italian history and culture since Roman times. The city's central position in the Padana plain and the presence of the great river have enabled it to become a crucial crossroads for economic and commercial trade. In the past, it was common for cities that were important from an economic point of view, quickly to become an ideal place for the development of the arts and culture. In this very way, Cremona, being rich in significant works of art, became a veritable capital of culture for both the arts and music. It is precisely music, and in particular the art of violin making, that makes Cremona a unique and renowned city. Cremona is a city of art, with a rich, varied cultural and monumental heritage and one of the most important national museum systems. The "Piazza del Comune", with the architectural complex comprising of the Torazzo bell tower, the Duomo, the Baptistery, and the Loggia dei Militi constitutes one of the most important examples of medieval architecture, which still remains intact in all of its splendour. The "Ponchielli" theatre is one of the landmarks of Cremonese culture; it is a historical and traditional theatre, a perfectly preserved true architectural jewel, that offers a highly prestigious programme of high quality events with prose, opera, concert and musical seasons.
A city of cheerful and sociable spirit, with a strong artistic and cultural tradition that boasts of prominent names such as Benedetto Antelami, whose works include the Cathedral and the Baptistery in pink Verona marble. Correggio, who was commissioned for works on the Chamber of San Paolo, San Giovanni Evangelista church and the Duomo, and Parmigianino who frescoed the church of Santa Maria della Steccata and parts of San Giovanni.
The National Gallery located inside the Palazzo della Pilotta, houses works by Parmigianino, Canova, Tiepolo and Leonardo da Vinci. Even modern architecture in Parma has its own space: the works of Renzo Piano, the Paganini Auditorium and the Barilla Center, the wonderful Piazzale della Pace by Botta, in front of the Pilotta, and the future Bohigas station are just some of the most well-known examples.
Parma is above-all a city of music and theatre. This passion, which goes far beyond the Parma-Verdi coupling, manifests itself through the variety of proposals and in the structures dedicated to it: the Paganini Auditorium, the Casa della Musica, the Birthplace and Museum of Arturo Toscanini, the Casa del Suono and not least the Teatro Regio, commissioned by Maria Luigia and inaugurated in 1829, which to this day remains one of the most renowned theatres in the world. Throughout the province there are numerous castles, a legacy of the different lords and noble families who imposed themselves upon Parma between the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries: the Scaligeri, the Visconti and lastly the Sforza. The most important being Castello di Bardi, Castello di Torrechiara, the Rocca di Fontanellato and the Reggia di Colorno.
The territory of Mantua is littered with the indelible traces left by its past rich in history, populated by iconic characters. Monuments and buildings tell us about the rich biography of the city and recite the stories of its protagonists and patriots such as the Martyrs of Belfiore, for example: a monument helps us to remember them, located on Lake Superiore, with the phrase inscribed "Here falling they overthrew the executioner". The Ponte della Gloria di Goito, on the other hand, pays tribute to the memory of the Bersaglieri. The various Romanesque churches, again, are a legacy of Matilde: a great woman, key political player, and strong supporter of the Pope.
Proceeding through the rural areas of Mantua you will encounter Santa Maria di Felonica and San Benedetto Polirone. Visiting these lands, you will also come across synagogues and Jewish cemeteries, in which documents testifying to the large numbers of Jews dating back to the 13th century can be found. A significant presence: Mantua also welcomed the Jews expelled from other countries and saw the size of the ghetto grow until the Napoleonic era. Lastly, we cannot talk about the history of the Lombard city without mentioning the great Gonzaga family. Theirs was an incredible parable, which saw them start out as land tenants and move on to take full possession of the Mantuan territory, weaving a refined network of strategic alliances with the Emperor and the Pope, with Venice and Ferrara. Under the Gonzaga rule, Mantua became magnificent, and destination for artists such as Donatello, Rubens, Pisanello, Mantegna, and Leon Battista Alberti.