[Emilia-Romagna Art Cities] Reggio Emilia in 3 Minutes
Estimated reading time: 3 minutes
“Reggio: daring and graceful,
this daughter of Marco Emilio Lepido consul
and mother of Ludovico Ariosto”
Giosuè Carducci – Poet, 1897)
A MAN-SIZED CITY
Reggio Emilia is always on top of the charts, among the most prosperous and livable cities in Italy. Indeed, it always dedicated a special attention to the education of children and to the art of photography.
It has been inhabited since the prehistoric times, and its origins are surrounded in myth. Some believe it was created by the Ligures, some by the Etruscan civilization and some other by the Boii. What’s sure is that the Latin name regium lepidi was given in honor of its founder Marco Emilio Lepido, who also founded, near Reggio, Parma, and Modena. It held a strategic importance under the domination of Rome because of its position along the Via Aemilia.
It was one of the cities where the institution of the medieval communes was born, the birthplace of Italian poet Ludovico Ariosto. In Reggio Emilia, in 1797, was created the Tricolore, the green, white and red flag of Italy.
Exploring Reggio Emilia is definitely going to be a pleasant journey.
BETWEEN ANCIENT AND MODERN
The travel begins exploring the Regium Lepidi, visiting the show On The Road, Via Emilia 187 a.C. – 2017. It goes on with the scenery of the San Prospero Church and with the nearby Bell Tower. After that one can visit the Romanic cathedral, redecorated in the style of Mannerism. Also to see are the baptistery, the fountain celebrating the river Crostolo and the baroque Basilica della Ghiara, which is said to have been built following a miracle. A must is the Tricolor flag Museum, situated inside the municipal palace.
The best way to explore Reggio Emilia is with a bicycle, so to enjoy its chilled mood. We suggest a trip through its squares. For example, Piazza Prampolini, better known as Piazza Grande, is linked to the smaller Piazza San Prospero with a beautiful covered walkway. We suggest you visit also the Broletto, Piazza Fontanesi (surrounded with trees and a nice colonnade) and the Saint Peter’s Benedictine Cloisters, which often are the theatre of cultural events.
The three theatres of Reggio Emilia, Teatro Municipale Romolo Valli, Teatro Ariosto and the Teatro Cavallerizza Cesare Zavattini have a very rich variety of shows and, in a peculiar urbanistic architecture, they all face the same square.
The historical shops can be found through the Via Emilia, from Porta Santo Stefano to Porta San Pietro. The perfect stops for eating are the numerous traditional small shops where people can taste classic recipes such as Erbazzone, Gnocco Fritto, Parmigiano Reggiano DOP and Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale, which are perfect souvenirs.
THERE’S SOMETHING ABOUT REGGIO EMILIA
Reggio Emilia is a polyhedric city struggling between ancient and modern. There are places dedicated to contemporary art, such as the Collezione Maramotti and Spazio Gerra. The 3 Bridges and High-Speed MedioPadana Railway Station, built by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, are great examples of contemporary architecture.
Each of Reggio Emilia’s museums has its own history and treasures. Museum Palace is an ex Franciscan monastery turned first into a barrack, then into a stall and then again, in 1830, into a school, now hosting many thematical shows. The Parmeggiani Gallery is located in a gothic-renaissance palace with a beautiful door made in Valencia; it contains works from Velasquez and El Greco. Other interesting museums are Palazzo Magnani, built in the 1400s, and the Museum of Psychiatric History.
BEYOND THE CITY OF REGGIO EMILIA
The country surrounding Reggio Emilia is rich of hidden treasures. The medieval castles (Canossa, Rossena Bianello, and Carpineti), once belonging to Matilde di Canossa, seem to protect the ancient small Appennine villages. A famous series of Italian movies, Don Camillo and Peppone, takes place in Brescello, in the Po Valley with many other beautiful small villages. Famous Italian singer Luciano Ligabue was born nearby, in Correggio.
For those interested in nature and park, we suggest visiting Parco Tosco Emiliano, Riserva Mab Unesco, and the Mathilda Way. One can also enjoy a boat ride on the Po, sailing from Boretto.
HOW TO GET TO REGGIO EMILIA
The international airport of Bologna “Guglielmo Marconi” is about 170 km distant from Reggio Emilia. It takes one hour on the driveway, and there are many bus shuttle and car renting service for this purpose. Other nearby airports are Parma, Milano Linate, Brescia Montichiari, Bergamo Orio al Serio and Verona Villafranca.
Reggio Emilia can be reached by car on the A1 highway, from both Milano and Bologna. www.autostrade.it/en/home
The central station of Reggio Emilia is about one-hour of distance from Bologna centrale via regional train, making it easier to travel through the rest of Italy and Europe. The High-speed Railway Station (AV MedioPadana) is around 20 minutes of bus travel from the city. It is served by high-speed train like Frecce and Italotreno.