The pretty town of Reggio Emilia - ouritalianjourney.com

 

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Reggio Emilia, nestled in the heart of northern Italy’s Emilia-Romagna region, is a place that surprises. While often overshadowed by its flashier neighbors, Reggio Emilia holds its own magic. Think of it as the Emilia-Romagna’s hidden gem, waiting to be discovered.

So, what exactly makes this town special? Buckle up, because Reggio Emilia boasts a rich history, a unique cultural approach, and a downright delightful atmosphere.

This town has about 170,000 inhabitants and is the main comune of the Province of Reggio Emilia. Especially relevant… It’s located just south of Parma and north of Bologna on the same train line.

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Taking the Train

In 2016, we took the train from Parma to Reggio Emilia which was only one stop away. The cost of the round trip per person was €6 round trip. You have read previously that we love to take the train, and it’s easier than you think. The key is to make sure you validate your ticket before you get on the train. It is usually a green box located on a pole or wall.

Slide the ticket in the correct direction and it prints a time stamp. Most noteworthy, you should make a habit of checking that the ticket is indeed printed with the date/time. We have heard that sometimes they run out of ink and guess what? If it’s not printed and you are checked… they might not agree with your argument that you did validate it but it must not have printed. A possible fine could be assessed. Also… just be prepared that your train will probably be late; typical for Italy.

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The Town of Reggio Emilia

First of all, the old town has a hexagonal form derived from the ancient walls. The main buildings are from the 16th–17th centuries.

Another interesting fact, the economy of the province of Reggio Emilia was for a long time based on agriculture. One well-known product is Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. Another is Lambrusco wine. Stroll through the vibrant market squares, overflowing with fresh produce and local delicacies. Indulge in a plate of the region’s famous tortellini or a slice of the melt-in-your-mouth Parmigiano Reggiano cheese. In the evenings, as a result of these delicacies… sip on a glass of Lambrusco wine at a cozy outdoor cafe and soak up the friendly atmosphere.

A Brush With History…

From Roman Roots to the Birthplace of a Nation Reggio Emilia’s story stretches back centuries. Founded by the Romans as Regium Lepidi, the town has worn many hats through time. It’s been a battleground, a center for arts and culture, and even the birthplace of the Italian flag – yes, the iconic red, white, and green tricolor we all recognize.

The City of the Tricolor: A Legacy of Unity

Speaking of the flag, Reggio Emilia proudly claims the title of “Città del Tricolore” (City of the Tricolor). In 1797, the green, white, and red banner symbolizing liberty, equality, and fraternity was first displayed here. It quickly became a symbol of Italian unification, and Reggio Emilia wears this badge of honor with pride.

Beyond the Flag: A Town Steeped in Culture

But Reggio Emilia is much more than just a flag-waving city. Step into the elegant main squares, like the Piazza del Duomo, and admire the architectural gems like the 16th-century Palazzo del Municipio (City Hall). History buffs will delve into the fascinating collections at the Musei Civici (Civic Museums), while art lovers can get lost in the masterpieces housed in the Palazzo dei Musei.

streets of Reggio Emilia, Italy
Cathedral (Duomo)

The Cathedral (Duomo) was built in the ninth through twelfth centuries. It was reconstructed in the second half of the sixteenth century. It has three naves with works by Guercino, Palma the Younger, Prospero Spani, and Alessandro Tiarini.

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The Reggio Emilia Approach: Where Children Take Center Stage

One of the things that truly sets Reggio Emilia apart is its revolutionary approach to early childhood education. The approach, pioneered by Loris Malaguzzi, emphasizes the importance of play, exploration, and self-expression in a child’s development. Schools here are designed to be beautiful, stimulating environments where children are seen as competent and curious learners. If you’re interested in education, a visit to the Loris Malaguzzi International Centre is a must.

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Piazza San Prospero

A Breath of Fresh Air

If you want a break from the city center, Reggio Emilia offers a surprising escape. The Parco Nazionale dell’Appennino Tosco-Emiliano, a national park nestled in the nearby Apennines mountains, provides a stunning backdrop for hiking, biking, and outdoor adventures.

Reasons to Pack Your Bags: Why You Should Visit Reggio Emilia

Here’s why Reggio Emilia should be on your Italian itinerary:

  • Unique History: Uncover the stories of Roman settlements, the birth of the Italian flag, and the revolutionary Reggio Emilia Approach to education.
  • Cultural Gems: Immerse yourself in art, architecture, and museums that showcase the town’s rich heritage.
  • Foodie Paradise: Savor the region’s renowned cuisine, from fresh pasta and cheese to local fizzy wines.
  • Outdoor Adventures: Escape to the natural beauty of the nearby Appennine mountains.
  • Lively Atmosphere: Embrace the friendly charm and relaxed pace of life in this hidden gem.

Both these books beautifully capture the essence of Italy, its people, and the strong sense of community that defines life in small Italian towns. With lyrical prose and reflections, Ilene & Gary invite readers to accompany them on a journey of self-discovery and transformation in the heart of Tuscany.
Books by Ilene and Gary Modica, Our Italian Journey, When Your Heart Finds Its Home and audiobook, ouritalianjourney.com

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, Reggio Emilia might not be the first name that pops up when you think of Italy, but it deserves a spot on your travel list. With its historical significance, cultural treasures, and focus on living well, this town promises an unforgettable Italian experience. So, ditch the crowds and discover the magic of Reggio Emilia – you won’t be disappointed.



Editor’s Note:  This post was initially published in July 2018, and was updated in July 2024 for accuracy and additional information.

8 Comments

  1. There is a wonderful language school in Reggio Emilia called Reggio Lingua. I took classes in Italian there last summer and again this spring when my husband was teaching at the University of Parma for 7 weeks. Excellent, friendly teachers and students from all over the world. I highly recommend it!
    As Ilene says, the train is an easy way to travel – it is only 15 minutes from Parma to Reggio Emilia, and I bought a “biglietto mensile” (monthly ticket) for 49 euros for an unlimited number of trips.

    1. Excellent information Erie! I didn’t know about their language school and also great info on the monthly train ticket! That’s why we love when people share a great comment! Appreciate you taking the time!

  2. Great article highlighting this small town. I did not know the connection to the Italian Flag, I do appreciate the history lessons in your posts.

    I have noticed over our trips that Italy is trying to get more “modern” in their approaches – good and bad. The Trenitalia app has been nice as the e-tickets can be validated as you step on the train, no need to fuss with the sometimes finicky green validating machines. Of course, that means not having interesting train ticket souvenirs.

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