24 November 2014 (Mon)

Our stay at Milan in 2014 was not blessed with sunshine. The visit to Crema was on one out of six days of sunshine during my half month's stay.  We were in Milan on the rest days with sunshine.  No harm.  Let's talk about Crema.  It is a historic town in Lombardy, about 40 kilometers from Milan. Dating back it was primarily an agricultural town with cattle raising.  Today it produces cheese, iron products, textile, etc.  And the prosperity finances the renovation of the town.  For example, the cathedral was closed for some years.  Now, it appears fresh and awesome in the town centre.

It was cold in the morning.  Our first stop was Santa Maria della Croce, 15-20 minutes by walking.  The church was build in Lombardy Renaissance style.  One piece of arts is Caterina meets Our Lady.  She was from a wealthy family.  Her husband axed her hand and attempted to kill her.  She prayed to Madonna for help.  She could be transported to the town and at the end died.  Her husband never appeared again.

The church is intricately decorated with frescoes, reliefs and sculptures.  Very rich!  One won't see a corner with no decoration or art pieces.  The dome is nicely painted and so as the walls.


There was more life on the way back to the centre.  Elderly bikers were on the pavements.  Autumn colours shone under the sun.  Red, yellow dotted the space.  The vegetation in the park was dyed with beautiful autumn hues.  Fantastic and absolutely beautiful!


Crema retains its medieval and Renaissance charm since long.  Its economic power allows it to restore historic buildings.  But some buildings are decay and need restoration.  Perhaps, it's a matter of priority.  The damaged and restored buildings, cobbled streets, palazzos all attribute to its glamour, not an exaggerated manner but subtle beauty and easy going.

At the heart of the town stands the restored Lombardy Gothic styled cathedral.  It is immense and imposing. The brick facade gives people a warm welcome, like a humble person extending its hand to befriend you.  Sculptures of Madonna and Child, Saints Pantaleon and Joint the Baptist over a frieze welcome you.  But I wonder why nearby are some provocative sculptures.

The interior of the cathedral is huge and aptly decorated with sculptures, paintings and frescoes. Important painters include Guido Reni, Denys Calvaert, Carracci and Vincenzo Civerchio.


Close to the Cathedral is the Praetorian Palace attached to the 14th century tower, The arc of Torrazzo.  Other buildings include Teatro San DomenicoLa chiesa della Trinità and a handful of palazzos.  Among all, I like particularly a sweet statue at Palazzo Bondenti.




11 April 2015

It's Saturday morning in mid-April, sunny and warm.  We visited Vercelli for its layback atmosphere and an exhibition at Museum Borgogna.  Close to the railway station is the first highlight of the town, Basilica of Sant’Andrea.  It has awesome exterior and interior.  Art inside is a treasure, both the frescoes and sculptures.

The elegant facade is built with different stones and combined with the red brickwork and white cotto of the upper part of the two side bell towers.The architecture style is Lombard-Emilian Romanesque: wide gable of the central section, two blind arcades and a big rose window in the middle.

The entrance is through three Romanesque portals.  The lunette of the central portal has a relief depicting the martyrdom of St. Andrew.  The left portal shows Cardinal Bicchieri offering the Church to St. Andrew.  The sculptures are likely from one or more of the pupils from Benedetto Antelami who had worked in Parma Baptistery.

In the second chapel is the tomb Gallo, 14th century.   The beautiful and complex architecture is a joint use of painting and sculpture.

Looking around are still beautiful sculptures.  Big walls of excellent wooden paintings decorate the church admirably. You will appreciate the level of details and the fine craftsmanship.

Not far away stands the Cathedral, dedicated to Saint Eusebius of Vercelli, the first bishop. It was built in 14th century but the first church can be dated back to 4th century. Subsequent destruction and decay evolve to the present church.  The only surviving part is the 12th century square campanile. Statues of the apostles and the redeemer were added to the top in 19th century.

The cathedral is shaped as Latin cross, a nave with two aisles separated by piers with paired columns.  Placed above the altar is a monumental silver leaf Crucifix.  It is from the end of 10th century, 3.27m high and 2.36m wide.

The subject of the fine cross is Triumphant Christ, depicted in a vertical position.  At the bottom and the two ends are also small figures.

At different parts of the cathedral are other beautiful art pieces. And the beauty is extended outside.  Just a few metres away is a park with benches and a big column of with sculptures underneath.

We then wandered around.  A powerful red brick castle stood in front of bright yellow flowers.  Churches and old buildings are dotting the city.  In the morning till mid-day it was very layback.  There was hardly anybody in the streets.  We had a quick lunch at the main square.  The warm sandwiches were good.  It was delighted to sit there and see the beautiful square.

We visited Museum Borgogna after lunch.  It was quite old inside.   We rang a table bell to notice staff around and purchased our tickets.  Over 400 works belonging to Antonio Borgogna were displayed.  Among all are about 100 detached frescoes and altarpieces by Defedente Ferrari, Giovenone, Gaudenzio Ferrari and Lanino.  Unfortunately, no photo was allowed.  Here are some from the museum's leaflet.  Quite nice.  In my opinion, those in the exhibition are still nicer.

Another major tourist attraction is the Synagogue, 19th century.  It is a Moorish Revival synagogue with white and red masonry.

One of the highlights of the day is certainly the marvelous paintings in the St. Christopher's Church. Every corner inside is filled with amazing fresco.  Those of two big panels are especially impressive.  One is illuminated but the other in the dark.  Nevertheless, beautiful by the human eyes.