The Ultimate Guide to Cruising the Po River in Italy

La Bella Vita cruising in Venice Italy
La Bella Vita cruising in Venice

Italy’s longest river, the River Po flows through many important cities through its 562km course, including Turin, Piacenza, Cremona and Ferrara. The river is connected to Milan through a network of channels called navigli, which Leonardo da Vinci helped to design. The River Po is only navigable from its mouth to the city of Pavia.

During the Palaeolithic and Neolithic periods, the lower valley of the Po was occupied by people who built structures on pikes along its swampy banks, with river-regulation works originating in pre-Roman times. The reclamation and protection of the riparian lands continued rapidly during the Roman period, and in several places their rectangular divisions are still visible. During the Barbarian invasions much of the protective system decayed, but the later Middle Ages saw the works resume so that the present arrangement existed in the main by the end of the 15th century.

Po River Map
Map of the Po River

The Po River forms the boundary between the regions of Lombardy and Emilia-Romagna and of Veneto. Among the many streams that drain into the Po from the south, the Tanaro, Scrivia and Trebbia are the most important, while many others are rain-fed and torrential in the winter, carrying little water throughout much of the year. Throughout its middle and lower courses, the Po River encounters many meanders, which have left circular lakes in their wake.

The Po River rises in Monte Viso, close to the Crissolo in Piedmont, flowing eastwards in its upper course. The upper Po is rapid and precipitous, descending approximately 5,500 ft (1,00m) in its first 22 miles, before turning sharply northwards through the city of Turin before again turning east to continue to its mouth on the Adriatic. Towards the end of its course, the river creates a wide delta with hundreds of small channels, and is amongst the most complex of any European river with at least 14 mouths, usually arranged in groups of five. Of these mouths, the Po della Pila carries the greatest volume of water and is the only navigable one.

Po River Italy
The Po River in Italy

Towns and Villages Along the Po River

Venice is the famous ‘floating’ city of Italy, known for its romance, culture, and breath-taking beauty. Built on platforms stabilised with petrified trees, Venice is a unique destination with winding canals, gondolas, and linked by over 400 beautifully arched stone bridges.

The Lido island is one of two barrier islands situated in the Venetian Lagoon, the other being Pellestrina (see below), and form the central part of the coastline of the lagoon on the Adriatic Sea. The peninsula of Cavallino forms the northern part, while that of Sottomarina forms the southern part. The sea has access to the lagoon through three inlets between the islands and peninsulas, and has been dredged enough to allow the passage of cruise liners to the port of Venice.

Malamocco was the first and, for a long time, only settlement on the Lido of Venice barrier island of the Lagoon of Venice. Its origins date back to the Roman occupation of Italy and was said to have acted as the port of Padua, to which it was connected by the River Brenta. Today, the village is home to 1,554 inhabitants. Its 12th century church, originally dedicated to Maddona della Marina (Our Lady of the Sea) and now devoted to Santa Maria Assunta, was built in the Veneto-Byzanitne style, however, has since undergone numerous modifications.

A large island forming a barrier between the Venetian lagoon and the Adriatic Sea, Pellestrina has been bounded towards its seaward side since the 18th century due to its sea-walls. There are four main villages on the island – San Pietro in Volta, Sant’ Antonio di Pellestrina and Pellestrina – all of which are known for their colourful houses and the practice of making lace.

Pellestrina, the gateway to the Adriatic Sea.
The village of Pellestrina is one of four on the island of the same name

Situated on a small island at the southern entrance to the Lagoon of Venice, Chioggia  is believed to have once been part of the Byzantine Empire and, like Pellestina, Chioggia is known for its lace-making. A miniature version of Venice, Chioggia has several medieval churches, many of which were rebuilt during the town’s golden age in the 16th and 17th centuries.

Until the 16th century, Cavanella d’Adige was known as “Fosson”, from an ancient branch of the Po River on whose riverbed the Adige would converge after the Rotto della Cucca. Porto Fussone today refers to a small district found at the mouth of the river. The Canale di Valle, which runs through the village, was once one of the paths of the medieval Romea road which united the two important Benedictine monasteries of the area – the Monastery of San Michele Arcangelo di Brondolo and the Monastery of San Giorgio di Fosson. During the Austrian occupation, the embankment of the Canale di Valle was the only road that led from Brondolo to the fortification of Cavanella d’Adige, two of the most important structures built by the Austrians to defend the region.

The first (or last) major town on the River Po before its estuary, Porto Viro was first created during the Fascist era but was subsequently dissolved. It was established anew in 1995 by the merger of the communes Donada and Contarina and serves as a regional riverine port before the River Po enters the Adriatic Sea.

The commune of Taglio di Po owes its name to the grandiose work of river engineering carried out by the Republic of Venice in the early 17th century, to preserve its lagoon from the landfill caused by enormous contributions of alluvial sediment the River Po discharges into the Adriatic. A cut was therefore deemed necessary to divert flood waters directly into the sea as opposed to into the lagoon itself. The project, which was first opposed by the neighbouring Dukes of Ferrara, and then

by Pope Clement VII, was finished after nearly 150 years of negotiations. In 1797, with the fall of the Republic of Venice, the town was incorporated into the Province of Ferrara and, in 1798, the municipality was officially recognised with the name “Taglio di Po”.

In 1872, the parish church of San Francesco d’Assissi opened for worship, and in the following years an attempt was made to construct a bellower, but which remained uncompleted for a lack of funds. The bellower was eventually finished in 1969.

Perhaps the most outstanding buildings in the town, however, are the 18th century villas of Cà Borin and Cà Nani. The imposing 18th century villa of Tentuna Ca ’Zen, its outbuildings and adjacent period church was built by the will of the Zen family of Venetian nobles. The estate later belonged to Lord Byron’s lover, and the poet often stayed in the house. The property is today a Bed and Breakfast, and the setting for our Italian river cruise’s dinner ashore.

Situated between the mouths of the rivers Adige and Po, Adria lies on the remains of the Etruscan city of Atria which may have given its name to the Adriatic Sea, to which it was connected by canals. An ancient settlement of significant importance, Adria houses the former cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta della Tomba, which features a 7th or 8th century octagonal baptismal font.

A commune of the nearby town of Rovigo since 1927, Borsea is a small, mainly residential village built around the 18th century church of San Zenone.

The smallest town in the province of Rovigo, Bosaro is located in the centre of Polestine and lies between the Canalbiano to the north, the Fossa di Polesella to the west and Collettore Padano in the south. The town’s origins are found with the construction of the Canalbiano in the 15th century, to collect the waste water of the Tartaro and Veronese valley, and several of Bosaro’s oldest buildings date to this period.

Bosaro is the smallest town in the province of Rovigo
Bosaro is the smallest town in the province of Rovigo

The first settlements to be established on what is today Canda date back to Roman times, as evidenced by the discovery of tombs and other archaeological finds in the village. During the Middle Ages, it was included among the possessions of the influential Este family, who granted the inhabitants exemption from paying taxes thanks in part to the works they had carried out to reclaim land from flooding and from retreating armies. After Venetian rule, the town underwent Austrian and Napoleonic invasions until finally, in 1866, it was annexed to the Kingdom of Italy.

Among its monuments, the villa Nani Mocenigo, the 15th century church of San Michele Arcangelo, the Loredan palace and some elegant aristocratic residences dating back to the Venetian period, such as the Villa Nani Mocenigo, are worthy of note.

Zelo was first mentioned in the 10th century when its lands belonged to the monastery of Sant’Andrea in Ravenna. The area was settled in the early 11th century, it was destroyed after one of the disastrous floods that the region was accustomed to. The town’s first church was mentioned in the late 16th century, but again it often flooded and so it was rebuilt on higher ground. A new church was built in the 17th century and was extended in the 18th century in the Renaissance style with Baroque influences. The church tower was built in 1724.

During the Napoleonic period, Zelo became part of the Lower Po, and was then incorporated into the Kingdom of Italy from 1805; a decade later, it passed into the territory of Rovigo.

Due to the presence of the bridge over the Tartarus, Zelo was bombed by the allies during the Second World War. The aerial attacks caused the complete destruction of the Renaissance-Baroque church and only the bell tower survived. The church was built in the 1960s, following the original’s designs. In 2001, the bridge was raised, making the Canalbianco completely navigable.

Church in Zelo
Zelo’s church was rebuilt in the 1960s following its destruction in WW2

Holding an important military role since the early Middle Ages, Legnago was one of the Quadrilatero fortresses, a defensive system of the Austrian Empire in Lombardy-Venetia, which connected the fortresses of Peschiera, Mantua, Legnago and Verona between the Mincio, Po and Adige Rivers during the Italian Wars of Independence. The present fortifications were planned and constructed in 1815, the older Austrian defences having been destroyed by Napoleon in 1801.

At the confluence of the Mincio and Po Rivers lies Govèrnolo, a riverside village with a marina and historic centre, which includes an 18th century church, historic clock-tower. The Bertazzolo basin, a 12th century hydraulic works built by the Italian engineer Alberto Pitentino on the Mincio to ensure the stability of the water level of the Mantua lakes and which remained operational until the mid-20th century.

Documents attest that the parish of Formigosa, which lies only a few kilometres from Mantua, already existed before 1600. Its parish church, dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary and San Urbano, was constructed in the 1840s, while its bell tower is 15th century. Built in the form of a Greek cross, the church is neoclassical in style.

Until the 1950s, agriculture was the primary source of economic activity in the town, but it subsequently lost its importance as a centre for farming as heavy industry was established in the eastern area of Mantua. Many kilns once worked in its vicinity, the last of which worked until the early 1980s.

Surrounded on three sides by artificial lakes created in the 12th century to act as its defences, Mantua is noted for its significant role in the history of opera, its architectural treasures, elegant palaces and its medieval and Renaissance cityscape. Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2008, Mantua’s historic power and influence under the powerful Gonzaga family made it one of the main artistic, cultural and musical hubs of northern Italy, and one of the most splendid courts of Europe.

Mantua is noted for its significant contribution to the arts

On the north bank of the Po River, Casalmaggiore was the birthplace of the Italian composers Ignazio Donati and Adrea Zani. Archaeological findings in 1970 testify to the area’s Bronze Age settlement, although its name is derived from its Roman past as “Castra Majora” – a military camp.

Around the year 1000, a fortified castle belonging to the House of Este was situated in its lands and by the 15th century the commune was ruled by the Venetian Republic. The town obtained the status of a city in 1754 with an imperial decree and after a period under Austrian rule, became part of the newly unified Kingdom of Italy in 1861.

Places of Interest Near the Po River

The Alberoni Dune Oasis holds one of the largest and best-preserved dune systems on the coasts of the North Adriatic Sea. With dunes as high as 10 metres tall and hiking trails crossing a large pine forest, unique species of flora and fauna create their habitat here.

The dunes of the Alberoni Oasis
The dunes of the Alberoni Oasis are some of the best preserved on the Adriatic

Established in 1990, the Botanical Gardens of Litoraneo di Porto Caleri is a nature reserve located on Via Porto Caleri in Rosolina and consists of a thin strip of sand dunes between the mouth of the river Adige and the Po di Levante. All told, it contains approximately a dozen eco-systems with about 220 plant species, including native orchids, indigenous vegetation of loose sand, salt marsh and pine and elm forests.

Sited on the Bacchiglione River west of Venice, Padua appears twice on the UNESCO World Heritage list – once for its Botanical gardens, which are the oldest in the world and for its 14th century frescoes which are located in different buildings throughout the city centre – and is possibly also famous as the setting for Shakespeare’s play “The Taming of the Shrew”.

A picturesque city, with a dense network of arcaded streets opening onto large communal squares, Padua claims to be among the oldest cities in northern Italy. According to legend, the city was founded around 1184 BC by the Trojan prince Antenor. After the Fall of Troy, he led a group of Trojans and their allies, the Veneti, to settle the Euganean plain in Italy, and soon the region developed into an important centre of the Venetians. When a large ancient sarcophagus was unearthed in 1274, officials of the medieval city declared the remains within to be those of Antenor.

While the city was involved in a period of conflict with Venice in the early 13th century, Padua later enjoyed a period of calm and prosperity during which construction of the basilica of Saint Antonio was started and the University of Padua was founded. As it flourished, Padua outpaced that of Bologna, where no effort had been made to expand the revival of classical precedents beyond the field of law, to become a centre of early humanist research, with first-hand knowledge of Roman poets that was unrivalled in Europe.

Padua came under the rule of the Venetian Republic in 1405 and remained under its control until its eventual demise in 1797. The Venetian Rule did not diminish the cultural development of the city, however, and its university developed into one of the finest in Europe in which scholars including Galileo and Galilei taught. The University of Padua is also notable for having awarded the first PhD to a woman, Elena Cornaro, in 1678. In the early to mid-16th century, Venice fortified Padua with new defences and a series of monumental gates, many of which are still visible to this day. Situated on the Adige River, Verona is one of the seven provincial capitals of Veneto and and is the second largest city in northeast Italy after Venice.

Verona Italy
Verona was founded as a Roman city on the Adige River

In late antiquity, the emperors Constantine I and Theodoric spent time in Verona, the latter building a palace in the city, and today it is most famous for its amphitheatre, the third largest in the Roman world and continues to hold important cultural events. The city is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The general plan of the town, laid out in a regular grid pattern as was common in the Roman world, may have been designed by Vitruvius, highlights of which include the amphitheatre, several monumental gates and a theatre.

Over the years, Verona became a very important city due to its geographical location, at the crossroads of four major Roman roads – the Gallic road from Turin to Aquilieia; Claudia Augusta, from Moderna to Germany; Postumia, from Liguria to Illyria; and Vicum Veronesium, from Verona to Ostiglia – leading it to become an important industrial and commercial gateway to the north and centre of Italy, while its port provided access to northern Europe.

The 1st century amphitheatre, known simply as the Arena, is Verona’s best preserved Roman monument. Originally there would have been three towers of arches, reaching 30 metres high, however today only two survive. Its exterior dimensions cover 152 x 123 metres, making it the third largest such amphitheatre, after the Colosseum and Capua. The Arena was originally used to host gladiator, circus, and equestrian events, while today it continues to host concerts and, most famously, an opera season every summer where 20,000 spectators, as in antiquity, enjoy the unique atmosphere of the open-air spectacle.

Arena di Verona - River Cruises in Italy
Passengers on La Bella Vita can enjoy operas held inside Verona’s arena on selected cruises

In 1405, Verona became part of the Venetian Republic, and while this acquisition brought the city peace and prosperity, it also meant it lost its economic well-being and political importance. However, three centuries of peace followed during which monuments, churches, and palaces were built, and its academies and cultural activities flourished.

Dotted throughout the city are many remnants of Verona’s once splendid Roman past. The Arch of Gavi was built in the 1st century AD to glorify and commemorate the powerful Gavi family. Typically,

triumphal arches commemorated military triumphs or statesmen, and so this is a rare example of such a structure honouring a private family. Situated to mark the start of the Via Sacra, the arch once had family statues in its niches, the inscriptions of which still remain.

Beneath the arch is a well-preserved stretch of Roman road with typical polygonal slabs which show the tell-tale parallel grooves of wheeled traffic. The arch was entirely dismantled in 1805 when Napoleon considered that it blocked military traffic but was restored in 1932. The Bosari Gate was also constructed in the 1st century AD and is built from white Valpolicella stone, actingas the city’s main entrance.

The bridge known today as the ‘Stone Bridge’ was one of only two Roman bridges that crossed the Adige. Floods, warfare, and time have taken their toll on the structure but the two white arches nearest the left bank are original.

Gavi Arch in Verona
The Gavi arch is one of Verona’s famous Roman gates

A city in Emilia-Romagna in northern Italy, Ferrara is situated 27 miles (44km) northeast of Bologna on the Po di Volano, a branch channel of the main stream of the River Po. The city was first settled in the 6th century BC, as attested by a necropolis with over 4,000 tombs was discovered in the 1920s amid the ruins of the Etruscan town of Spina at the ancient mouth of the Po River, evidence that the city must have played a major role in Antiquity.

Members of the city’s ruling House of Este, notably Lionello and Ercole I, were among the most important patrons of the arts on the late 15th and early 16th centuries and during this time the city grew into an international cultural centre, renowned for its architecture, music, literature and visual arts.

Ferrara’s architecture greatly benefitted from the genius of the architect Biagio Rossetto, who was requested by Ercole to draft a masterplan for the expansion of the city in the 15th century. The resulting “Erculean Addition” is considered one of the most important examples of Renaissance planning in Europe and contributed to Ferrara being selected as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995.

Ferrara is considered as one of the most important examples of Renaissance city-planning in Europe

The imposing Este Castle, in the very centre of the Ferrara has become an iconic symbol of the city. A defensive fort featuring four enormous bastions and a moat, the castle was constructed in the late 14th century with the purpose of defending the town from external threats as well as to serve as a fortified residence for the House of Este in Ferrara.

The Cathedral of Saint George, which was consecrated in 1135, is one of the finest examples of Romanesque architecture in Italy and while it has been renovated several times through the centuries, its resulting eclectic style is a harmonious combination of Romanesque, Gothic and Renaissance architecture.

Close to the cathedral, the 15th century town hall, which also served as an earlier residence of the Este family, features a grandiose marble flight of stairs and two ancient bronze statues of the Este dynasty.

The southern district, the town’s oldest, is crossed by a myriad of narrow alleys that date to the Early Middle Ages. Perhaps the best-preserved medieval building in Ferrara, the Casa Romei was the private residence belonging to the eponymous merchant who, by marriage, was related to the Este family.

The northern quarter, which was added by Ercole I, thanks to the masterplan by Rossetti, features a large number of Renaissance palaces. Among the finest is the Palazzo dei Diamanti, so called due to the diamond points into which the facade’s stone blocks are cut. The palace houses the National Picture Gallery, with a large collection of artwork by the School of Ferrara, which first prose to prominence in the latter half of the 15th century.

Step off your Italian River Cruise and enjoy the Estense Castle in Ferrara
The castle of the House of Este is one of Ferrara’s touristic highlights

The capital of the eponymous province, Rovigo stands on the low ground known as Polestine, approximately 50 miles (80km) southwest of Venice and extends between the Adige River and the Canalbianco.

The town was selected to be the temporary residence of the Bishop of Adria following the destruction of his hometown by Hungarian marauders in the 10th century. The viscounts of Rovigo built a series of defences including a castle in the town in the 12th century funded by the House of Este, the only remnant of which is the Torre Doná. In 1194, the town became a formal possession of Azzo VI d’Este, Duke of Ferrara, who took the title of count of Rovigo.

The Este influence in the town ended in the late 15th century, when the Venetians took the town by siege and retained control of it until the French Revolution. The town’s architecture bears the stamp of both Venetian and Ferrarese influence, and its main sights include its 11th century cathedral, which features artwork by Palma the Younger, the ruins of its 10th century castle and the Renaissance-style Palazzo Roverella, which today serves as an art gallery.

Rovigo Italy
Rovigo is a beautiful example of a Renaissance city

Founded by the Etruscans in the 6th century BC on the banks of the Mincio river, Mantua is surrounded on three sides by lakes that provide it natural protection. Its name is said to have derived from the Etruscan god Mantus, of Hades.

After the fall of the Roman Empire, Mantua was invaded in turn by the Byzantines, Lombards and the Franks. In the 11th century, it became the possession of Boniface of Canossa, marquis of Toscana. The last ruler of the family was the countess Matila of Canossa, who, according to legend, ordered the construction of the precious Rotonda di San Lorenzo. After her death, the Mantua became a free city and strenuously defended itself from the Holy Roman Empire in the 12th and 13th centuries. In 1198, Alberto Pitentino optimized the course of the River Mincio, creating what the Mantuans called “the four lakes” to reinforce the city’s natural protection.

Under Francesco II Gonzaga, the famous Renaissance painter Andrea Mantegna worked in Mantua as the court painter, producing some of his most outstanding works. The first duke of Mantua was Federico II Gonzaga, who acquired the title from Emperor Charles V in 1530, and commissioned Giulio Romano to build the famous Palazzo Te on the periphery of the city, and profoundly improved the urbanistic assets of the city.

The Bianco Canal is 135 kilometres-long and links the city of Mantua to the sea
Mantua is surrounded on three sides by lakes, granting it natural protection

The direct line of the Gonzaga family came to an end in 1627 with the vicious, and weak, Vincenzo II and the town slowly declined under its new rulers, the Gonzaga-Nevers, a cadet French branch of the family. After the War of Mantuan Succession and the besieging of the city by Imperial Landsknecht mercenaries, who unfortunately had brought the plague with them, Mantua never truly recovered. Ferdinand Carlo IV, and inept ruler whose only aim seemed to have been to hold theatrical parties, allied with France in the Spanish War of Succession.

After the latter’s defeat, he took refuge in Venice, supposedly carrying with him one thousand pictures. At his death in 1708, his family lost Mantua forever in favour of the Hapsburgs of Austria, and under Austrian rule, Mantua enjoyed a revival during which the Royal Academy of Sciences, Letters and Arts, the Scientific Theatre and numerous palaces were built.

At the centre of the city stands its cathedral, which was rebuilt in the 16th century after designs by Giulio Romano.

The vast ducal palace, also called the Reggia of the Gonzagas, stands opposite the cathedral and its apartments contain many valuable works of art. The Church of San Andrea, which shared the privileges of the cathedral, was designed by Leon Battista Alberti.

The city’s cultural institutions include the Accademia Virgiliana, containing an 18th century Scientific Theatre designed by Antonio Bibiena; the valuable library, founded in 1780 by the Austrian empress Maria Theresa; and the State Archives. The houses of the artists Andrea Mantegna and Giulio Romano have been preserved. In 2008 Mantua was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Visit the Ducal Palace in Mantua on your Italian River cruise
The Ducal Palace is one of Mantua’s highlights

Famous for its food and rich gastronomical tradition – two of its specialties are Parmigiano Reggiano cheese and Prosciutto di Parma ham – Parma was appointed to the Creative Cities Network as a UNESCO City of Gastronomy in 2004, the first Italian city to be awarded the recognition.

The city was first settled by the Romans in the 2nd century AD and immediately became an important reference point for all the surrounding plains. The construction of the Via Emilia promoted a profound and rapid development of the city. The accomplished Roman town layout included a forum, theatre, amphitheatre, temple and also a basilica – and even boasted its very own urban water supply.

After the fall of the Roman Empire, the city was passed under Byzantine control in the 6th century AD, during which Parma was named Crispoli.

Parma Butcher
Parma is world-famous for its culinary traditions and delicacies

In the 12th century, the city’s cathedral and baptistery were built, amongst other grand civic structures. In the centuries that followed, the city fell to a succession of prominent families, including the Visconti’s and Sforza’s before, finally, the Papcy gained control of Parma.

One of the most important buildings to have been constructed in the city under its rule of the Farnese family is the 16th century Palazzo della Pilotta, which today houses the Museo Bodoniano. Several schools of painting also started around this time, the most notable being those of Correggio and Parmigianino.

In the second half of the 18th century, the city enjoyed something of an artistic revival after it fell under the influence of Marie Louise of Austria, the wife of Napoleon I who is said to have helped shape the city’s new-found elegance.

Parma Italy
Parma remains an undiscovered gem of a city

Situated on the left bank of the River Po in Lombardy, Cremona is especially noted for its musical history and traditions, including some of the earliest and most renowned luthiers, such as Giuseppe Guarneri, Antonio Stradivari and several members of the Amati family.

The city was born as a simple village inhabited by Gauls, who worked as ferrymen on the River Po. Because of its geographical position as a major transit point, however, Cremona drew the attention of the Romans who turned the village into an important regional centre. Cremona was officially founded in 219 BC, after which it was inhabited by nearly 6,000 Romans. The city enjoyed the confidence of Rome, and even had a legislative autonomy with its own Senate.

In the late 2nd century AD, thousand more Roman farmers settled in the city and relations with Rome became even more friendly, thanks in part to Cremona’s assistance in the fight against the Gauls and even Hannibal.

With the fall of the Roman Empire, however, the city was governed by the powerful Vescovi-Conti, who defended the city vigorously but, around the year 1000, Cremona, after fierce struggles against its lords, transformed itself into a municipality.

Cremona Italy
Cremona cathedral was a famous musical centre in the 16th century

By the 12th century, Cremona was one of the most powerful such cities in Italy and expanded its domain into the surrounding territory. The city is most famous, however, for its musical legacy. The 12th century cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta was a focus of organised musical activity in the region during the Late Middle Ages, and by the 16th century had become a famous musical centre. The composer Marc’Antonio Ingegneri taught at the school with Laudio Monteverdi being one of his most famous students, before leaving for Mantua in 1591. Cremona was also the birthplace of Pierre-Francisque Caroubel, a collaborator with noted German composer Michael Praetorius.

The bishop of Cremona, Nicolò Sfondrati, a fervent supporter of the Counter-Reformation, became Pope Gregory XIV in 1590, and, a fervent patron of music, the renown of the town as a musical destination grew accordingly.

From the 16th century, Cremona became renowned as a centre of musical instrument manufacture, with the violins of the Amati and Rugeri families and later the workshops of Guarneri and Stradiveri.

To this day, their handmade work is widely considered to the summit of achievement in stringed instrumentmaking, and the city continues to be considered as a major centre for producing high quality instruments; in 2012, the “traditional violin craftsmanship in Cremona” was declared an intangible cultural heritage by UNESCO.

Cremona Italy
Cremona’s history is built around its love affair with music

Ready to Explore the Po River by Luxury Barge?

Guests aboard luxury hotel barge La Bella Vita will have the opportunity to visit some of the towns, villages, and places of interest listed above on our classic cruise in Italy.  For more information on our  itineraries in Italy and the rest of our collection of luxury hotel barge cruises, why not order a free copy of our brochure today or speak to a member of our team directly using our handy Contact Form.

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