Known as the capital of the sweet and spicy condiment mostarda, the Lombard city of Cremona is also home to torrone, or nougat.
The annual Festa del Torrone, or Nougat Festival, is an entire weekend of exhibitions, performances and tastings dedicated to the toffee-tough delight, made from honey, sugar, egg whites and toasted almonds or other nuts.
This year, Cremona’s streets and parks will once again come alive with more than 250 events, from spectacles to cultural activities and delicious tastings.
The annual Torrone d’oro award will also be given to a recipient who proudly represents Cremona in Italy and across the world in their particular field, from artists to professionals.
The highlight of the festival is the re-enactment of the marriage between Francesco Sforza and Bianca Maria Visconti, daughter of Filippo Maria Visconti, Duke of Milan.
There are many legends surrounding the origins of torrone, but one historical document, dating back to October 25, 1441, is considered proof that the elaborate wedding led to the creation of this sugary specialty, which was made as a gift to the bride by the city of Cremona.
According to the written account, the wedding celebrations took place in Cremona’s main piazza and lasted three days and three nights.
The Visconti family asked the court pastry chefs to create a new cake for the occasion, and they came up with the dense sweet, whose long, rectangular form resembled the famous bell tower that flanks Cremona’s cathedral.
They aptly named the cake torrone, after the word torrione, or tower.
Today, the re-enactment of the wedding sees 150 participants parade through Cremona’s narrow streets dressed in renaissance attire, from flag-bearers to dames and knights.
The procession comes to an end at the city’s main square, Piazza del Comune, where the wedding takes place.
The celebrations come to a close with a fireworks display in the evening.
If these exciting festivities aren’t enough to lure you to Cremona in the third week of November, surely the sweet and nutty notes of torrone are!