Crema is not just an ingredient that you generously put in your food or dessert; it’s a quaint city in Northern Italy. I never knew about this place until I wrote an address in an envelope few years ago (yep, snail mail still exists). I told my friend that I wanted to visit Italy and see the famous cities like Rome, Venice, Florence and Milan. He sent me some photos of Crema and I thought it’s not that intriguing but I’d visit anyway so I can see his hometown.
Flash forward – I am walking around Piazza del Duomo in Crema and recalling the photos my friend sent me. I used to see it on my phone screen and now I am here, exploring the city and beginning to appreciate its beauty.
I can say that I see the real Italy in Crema. No tourists (well, maybe some), just locals. I observe Italians silently as I sip my cappuccino freddo in a tabaccheria. I always hear “cappuccio, per favore” in ranging tones, it’s like I’m in a small opera house with Pavarottis and Bocellis. I see grandparents reading newspapers and discussing the news with their amicas with matching hand gestures. When I stroll around the cobbled streets of Crema, I see parents playing with their kids at park, teenagers hanging out, kids running, gelateria lovers queuing at Bandirali. Then I thought, Crema is a perfect place for travellers who love to see Italy in a deeper way.
Crema is charming that it’s one of the settings of the award-winning movie, Call Me by Your Name. I know few people who’d like to explore Crema just to visit Elio and Oliver’s whereabouts. I think one should visit Crema because it’s beautiful and worth the trip. It’s a perfect day tour from the busy Milan or any nearby cities in Northern Italy.
So here’s a short guide of Crema:
GOING TO CREMA FROM MILAN
Crema is just 45 minutes away from the fashion capital of the world, Milan.
Go to Milano Centrale, alight at Treviglio Station and connect to Crema. The historical centre is just few blocks away from the train station.
Check the train schedule at Trenitalia
If you’ll go by car, you can park at Parcheggio la Buca or Mercato di Crema at Via Verdi –except mornings of Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday where different stalls sell food, flowers, clothes and antiques.
WHAT TO SEE
Crema’s historic centre is small; you can finish it in one day by foot.
If you arrive from Crema train station, walk towards Via Giuseppe Mazzini and via Alessandro Manzoni. The streets are filled with Italian shops and nice buildings. Check out some paintings on the wall and the balconies.
After walking the connecting streets, you’ll arrive at Piazza del Duomo where you can see Crema’s Cathedral, Comune or City Hall, Arco del Torrazzo and restaurants.
Cross the clock tower and you’ll find yourself at Via XX Settembre with more shops. Chiesa della Santissima Trinita, a baroque catholic church is in this street also.
Go to the other side of the street and make your way to Teatro San Domenico. It was once a church but now it holds concerts and plays like Merchant of Venice and Little Prince – in Italian language, of course. Visit their website to check the schedule of events.
Know more about history and visit Museo Civico di Crema. Across the museum, you can see the Palazzo Terni de Gregorj at via Dante Algihieri.
You can also visit Santa Maria della Croce, just few kilometres from the centre. Take a 6-minute bus ride at via Mercato and alight at Crema, Edicola. From there, just walk about 250m passing Parco del Nosocomio at Viale Santa Maria della Croce.
WHAT AND WHERE TO EAT
Try the typical dish of Crema, Tortelli Cremaschi. It’s a sweet pasta with amaretto and raisins inside. There are restaurants at Piazza del Duomo that serves this delicious dish.
For Pizza, go to Il Botteghino for a chunky pizza margherita at Piazza Garibaldi. They are very generous with cheese. 🙂 They also offer other appetizing dishes.
If you have a car, take a quick ride to Pizzeria Santa Lucia to taste their brick oven pizza and pair it with wine.
The top 2 gelaterias in Crema are Bandirali at via Piacenza and via Settembre and Ice Cream at Piazza Papa Giovanni Paolo XXIII. Both shops offer mouth-watering flavours. Make sure to get one scoop of stracciatella.
Italians love their coffee. If you want to know what kind of coffee taste they prefer, go to the place where they take their daily espresso or cappuccio. Bar, tabaccheria and ricevitoria at Piazza Istria e Dalmazia near Teatro San Domenico serves the best coffee. Pair it with brioche (like a croissant). While eating, you may want to test your luck and play the lotto.
PS: You can also buy your return train ticket at the tabaccheria. 🙂
So what are you waiting for? Crema is worth the day trip if you’re in Northern Italy. 🙂