Reggio Emilia is a charming, historic city in Northern Italy tucked away in the Emilia-Romagna region. From the gorgeous open-air piazze and parks to the lovely bookshops, cafés, and theaters, this lesser-known neighbor of Parma and Modena is a quiet and stylish town that frequently captures the hearts of visitors. Arriving in the town of Reggio Emilia frequently feels like coming home again and often has visitors planning their next trip before they even leave.

Although the city is known as simply Reggio to its one hundred seventy thousand plus residents, the area’s official name is Reggio nell’Emilia and residents are called Reggiani. The people here are modestly proud of their heritage and are considered to be extremely warm and welcoming. Much of the city’s charm comes from the fact that it is not a primary tourist destination such as the bigger Italian draws of Venice, Florence, or Rome. In many ways the city’s anonymity from tourists allows an endearing neighborhood community feeling to prevail, a characteristic of Reggio Emilia that is often a favorite among visitors.

Historians believe the city’s roots trace all the way back to 187 BC. Over the centuries, the town was under the rule of various nations and kingdoms before eventually becoming an official city of Italy. Beginning in the fifteenth century and spanning several hundred years, groups of Jews flocked to the city to escape religious persecution. For the next few centuries up until World War II, the Jewish community thrived in the city and helped shape some of what the city has become today. Because of the Jewish influence over the years, many renowned rabbinic scholars made Reggio Emilia their home.

Reggio Emilia is known in many parts of the world for the regional Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, Lambrusco wine and balsamic vinegar. Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese is a hard and flavorful cheese made from unpasteurized cow’s milk and is most often grated and sprinkled over pasta dishes, risottos, and soups. Lambrusco wine is made in Lambrusco Reggiano, one of the largest producing areas of this particular wine. The city’s production of balsamic vinegar can be traced back to the eleventh century and is widely used for everything from salad dressing, a drizzle for Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, to toppings for pasta, meats, and even ice cream.

The city is known internationally for its unique approach to preschool education that was started by its schools shortly after World War II thanks to educator Loris Malaguzzi. The main principles of the Reggio Emilia approach are based on the ability of children to learn about their world through their environment, and communication or interactions with others. In 2011, the Reggio Children – Loris Malaguzzi Centre Foundation was established to promote and help others implement the Reggio Emilia approach. Today it is used in many schools across the globe to enhance learning for young children.

When arriving or departing from the city, travelers can utilize the railway, the nearby airport, or the highway. The main railway station is Reggio Emilia Railway Station in the eastern part of the city and it connects the city with the Milan-Bologna line. The closest international airport is in Bologna, and it also provides air transportation to many other nearby destinations. When it comes to navigating the heart of the city itself, visitors and locals prefer to travel on foot or via bicycle.


Reggio Emilia sits almost entirely on a plain in the Italian region of Emilia-Romagna. The defining topographical feature of the city is the Crostolo, a small stream that flows through the city and surrounding province before eventually emptying into the Po River.

The major city of Parma lies about forty minutes to Reggio Emilia’s northwest, Modena sits roughly forty minutes to the southeast, and Bologna a little over an hour to the southeast. A stretch of highway connects all three cities to Reggio Emilia and is an often-traveled thoroughfare in the area by visitors.


Reggio Emilia enjoys seasonal temperatures with quite warm summers and chilly winters. Some summers will see average high temperatures somewhere in the neighborhood of eighty degrees Fahrenheit with the average low falling to the upper fifties. Winters are typically a very different story, with average high temperatures around forty degrees Farenheit and lows hovering around the thirties.

Rain is fairly consistent throughout the year, although the fall months of October and November tend to receive a little above the average level of precipitation. Snow is somewhat of a rarity in Reggio Emilia, but if it does fall, it seldom sticks to the ground and sometimes melts upon impact.


The city is often referred to lovingly as the Tricolor City. This nickname is a respectful nod to the fact that the Italian national flag was born in Reggio Emilia in January 1797 when it was adopted by the cities of Reggio Emilia, Bologna, Ferrara and Modena, which formed the Cispadane Republic.

Because of Reggio Emilia’s role in the establishment of the flag, the city has become a symbol of sorts of the country’s independence. Evidence of this pride can be found in Casotti Square, behind Town Hall where the Tricolor Flag Museum (also known as Museo del Tricolore) displays artifacts and documents relating to the history of the national flag. Spanning a total of three floors, the museum offers a unique window into the evolution of Italy and the Italian flag not likely to be found anywhere else. Travelers can also visit the Tricolor Flag Hall, which is where the flag was officially adopted in 1797.

Though often overshadowed by neighbors such as Parma and Bologna, Reggio Emilia is an excellent destination for those looking to immerse in the culture of Emilia-Romagna. Here, travelers can sample the region’s best food and delve into the city’s rich past.

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