Situated in Northern Italy, in the Po Valley, at about 50 km from Bologna, on the Via Emilia, Reggio Emilia borders Parma’s territory to the west and Modena’s territory to the east. In the north, the River Po separates its territory from the province of Mantua, while in the south the Apennines mark the border with Liguria and Tuscany.
Reggio, also known as the Tricolour town, because it was here that the future Italian flag was adopted for the first time in 1797, has an ancient history: in the 11th century, the town was the heart of Matilde’s county in the neighbouring territory. Later, important figures marked its Renaissance, ranging from Boiardo to Ariosto, the great poet of The Orlando Furioso.
Nowadays, famous for its gastronomy, lifestyle quality and, internationally, the “best kindergartens in the world”, Reggio is also a city of art, whose symbols are the seventeenth-century Basilica della Ghiara and the famous Teatro Municipale. Contemporary signs are visible, for whose driving along the A1 motorway, in the bridges designed by architect Santiago Calatrava for the Alta Velocità (High Speed) station.
The best seasons are spring and autumn because of the weather and the many events held in the town.
The visit itinerary may start from the Sala del Tricolore (Tricolour Hall) and its Museum, which goes over the historical events with Napoleonic memorabilia and relics of the Risorgimento. The visit may continue in the nearby Piazza Prampolini or Piazza Grande, with its statue of the Torrent Crostolo and, by crossing the Broletto arcades, reach the small Piazza San Prospero, seat of the traditional market and, then, Piazza Fontanesi, a sort of open sitting room surrounded by trees. The Cathedral, the Baptistery and the Town Hall overlook Piazza Grande, while Piazza San Prospero is dominated by the Basilica dedicated to the Patron Saint.
A must to see are the Basilica della Madonna della Ghiara, a vestige of the Emilian Baroque that contains precious masterworks such as the celebrated Guercino's "Crucifixion", as well as a cycle of frescoes illustrating the female figures of the Old Testament; the Museum Palace, which stand out for their art, archaeological and naturalistic collections; the Galleria Parmeggiani, especially for its 19th-century collections; the Synagogue; the neoclassical and stately Teatro Municipale and the nearby Piazza Martiri del 7 Luglio, with its new fountain.
Other places of interest are the Spazio Gerra with its installations of contemporary art of the last years: from Fabro to Morris, from Sol Lewitt to Mattiacci, until the amazing permanent private collection Maramotti, which displays works of art of inestimable value, and Palazzo Magnani, the main exhibition seat of the town, hosting exhibitions all year long, with a particular preference for photography and modern art.
Besides the excellent hotels of the town, among which it is possible to count even a historical palace, and the lively hostel located in the seventeenth-century palace of the Basilica della Ghiara, it is also possible to stay in the castles of Sarzano and Rossena located in the environs.
The "International Centre for Children Culture and Creativity Loris Malaguzzi”, to appreciate the Reggio Emilia educational experience; the centre is an internationally renowned place of meeting for researchers and teachers, but also for children and families. In mid-May, tales and stories transform the town during ReggioNarra, an event entirely dedicated to children.
Do not leave the town without tasting and buying the excellent delicacies of its gastronomy: the cappelletti or caplètt, the Parmesan cheese and the Traditional Balsamic Vinegar. In the town bakeries, it is possible to find the erbazzone and the chizze, in the pastry shops, the spongata, the traditional rice cake and the biscione.
For an itinerary as sparkling as the wine Lambrusco, follow the “Strada dei Vini e Sapori dei Colli di Scandiano e Canossa” (the route of wines and flavours of the hills of Scandiano and Canossa) and the “Strada dei Vini e Sapori delle Corti Reggiane” (the route of wines and flavours of the Reggio Emilia courts) in the northern area of the province.
For those who want to take a walk or go for a jog, there are the 7 kilometres of the Pista del Crostolo, a green way at the entrance of the town, which can be covered also on bicycles; for those who want to have a swim, the Parco Aquatico gives great pleasure to grown-ups and children in the summer.
Golf enthusiasts may play at the Fattoria del Golf or at the Golf Club Matilde di Canossa, which hosts also a fantastic Messegué Spa.
Every year, in may, European Photography, an event not to be missed for the enthusiasts of this art; from end September to November, the Aperto Festival of Dance and contemporary performing arts. Reggio Emilia theatres are always interesting for their many and particular initiatives taking places during the whole year. In particular, the Valli Theatre holds every three years one of the most important international competitions for string quartets, the “Premio Paolo Borciani”.
Just at 20 km, on the first hills around Reggio, do not miss the visit of Matilde’s Castles of Canossa, Rossena and Bianello (and the castle of Carpineti on the Apennines, at 44 km). In Gattatico (25 Km), you can visit the Museo Cervi to have a look at the recent history.
Along the River Po (approximately 30 Km), Boretto, Guastalla and Brescello, so particular with their atmosphere and suggestions, offer the possibility to go for a trip on the river or visit the Museum of Don Camillo and Peppone. Again to the north of the town is Correggio (18 Km), a prestigious small Renaissance court, while Scandiano (15 km) and the picturesque Rocca dei Boiardo lie to the south.