by Isabella Carrino
Cremona is considered the capital of Torrone. Every year, a cultural and gastronomic festival, the Festa del Torrone, takes place in the city, giving a chance to locals and tourists to taste different varieties of this extraordinary sweet and enjoy the ancient town.
The Origins of Torrone
Torrone is a nougat confection from many regions of Italy, historically also present in countries such as Spain and France and usually served at Christmas time.
The term "torrone" comes from the Latin torreo, which means "to toast," referring to the toasting process of hazelnuts and almonds. Its simple ingredients also have symbolic values: honey - sweetness, almonds - the strength of life, egg white - rebirth.
There are several theories about its origin. First, it is believed that it may derive from the preparation of honey, egg white, and almonds present in ancient Rome, as shown by some writings of the historian Tito Livio.
A subsequent hypothesis would link the recipe to the Arabs who would have spread it in Southern Italy and the Mediterranean as a corroborating food.
A legend from Cremona would identify the first traditional nougat in the unique tower-shaped confection of almonds and honey prepared by the court chefs for the wedding between Bianca Maria Visconti and Francesco Sforza.
Today the different regional variations of the recipe can be based on the more or less soft dough enriched with dried fruit, figs, herbs, spices, citrus peel, or chocolate.
The most popular torrone is from Cremona, a delightful town one-hour driving from Milan.
Each November, the city host the annual Festa del Torrone (Nougat Festival 2021).
This year, the 13th edition of the festival will take place from the 13th to the 21st of November. It will be a mix of gastronomic-cultural meetings, tastings, show cooking, appointments for adults and children, and traditional events such as the Historical Re-enactment of the marriage between Bianca Maria Visconti and Francesco Sforza, and the Maxi Constructions of nougat.
There will be nougat producers from all over Italy from whom it will be possible to buy and taste all the typical and representative variations of the Cremona's torrone.
Joining the festival will also be an excellent opportunity to visit Cremona. The first stop is the Cremona's monumental Cathedral, also called "Sistine Chapel of the North," because of the pictorial cycle that decorates the walls and the choir of the main nave.
The Cathedral shares the square with the local Town Hall, an impressive Baptistery featuring Roman and Gothic architectural elements, and the Torrazzo, one of the tallest brickwork bell towers in the world. Reaching the top is quite a climb (502 steps), but the atop view is stunning!
Cremona is also well known for its ancient violin-making tradition: Antonio Stradivari was born there. Some of his masterpieces can be found at the Violin Museum, one of Cremona's key attractions.
Festa del Torrone: www.festadeltorrone.com
Cremona Touristic Information: www.turismocremona.it/en
Cremona Cathedral: cattedraledicremona.it