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Reggio Emilia

Reggio Emilia (Latin: ''Regium Lepidi'' and ''Regium'') is an affluent city in northern Italy, in the Emilia-Romagna region. It has about 167,013 inhabitants and is the main ''comune'' (municipality) of the Province of Reggio Emilia.

The town is also referred to by its more official name of '''Reggio nell'Emilia''' . The inhabitants of Reggio nell'Emilia (called ''Reggiani'') usually call their town by the simple name of ''Reggio''. In some ancient maps the town is also named ''Reggio di Lombardia''.

The old town has an hexagonal form, which derives from the ancient walls, and the main buildings are from the 16th-17th centuries. The commune's territory is totally on a plain, crossed by the Crostolo stream.


Ancient and early Middle Ages

Though not Roman in origin, Reggio began as an historical site with the construction by Marcus Aemilius Lepidus of the Via Aemilia, leading from Piacenza to Rimini (187 BC). Reggio became a judicial administration centre, with a forum called at first ''Regium Lepidi'', then simply ''Regium'', whence the city's current name.

During the Roman age Regium is cited only by Festus and Cicero, as one of the military stations on the Via Aemilia. However, it was a flourishing city, a ''Municipium'' with its own statutes, magistrates and art collegia.

Apollinaris of Ravenna brought Christianity in the 1st century CE. The sources confirm the presence of a bishopric in Reggio after the Edict of Milan (313). In 440 the Reggio's diocesis was submitted to Ravenna by Western Roman Empire Valentinianus III. At the end of the 4th century, however, Reggio had decayed so much that Saint Ambrose include it among the dilapidated cities. Damages were increased by Barbarian invasions. At the fall of the Western Empire (476), Reggio was part of the Odoacer's reign. In 489 it was in the Ostrogothic kingdom; later (539) it belonged to the Exarchate of Ravenna, but was conquered by Alboin's Lombards in 569. Reggio was chosen as Duchy of Reggio seat.

In 773 the Franks subjected Reggio, and Charlemagne gave the bishop royal authority over the city and established the diocese' limits (781). In 888 Reggio was handed over to the Kings of Italy. In 899 the Magyars heavily damaged it, killing Bishop Azzo II. As a result of this new walls were built. On October 31, 900, Emperor Louis III gave authority for the erection of a ''castrum'' (castle) in the city's centre.

In 1002 Reggio's territory, together with that of Parma, Brescia, Modena, Mantova and Ferrara, were merged into the mark of Tuscany, later held by Matilde of Canossa.
Panorama with basilica della Ghiara.

Free commune

Reggio became a free commune around the end of the 11th or the beginning of the 12th century. In 1167 it was a member of the Lombard League and took part in the Battle of Legnano. In 1183 the city signed the Treaty of Konstanz, from which the city's consul, Rolando della Carità, received the imperial investiture. The subsequent peace spurred a period of prosperity: Reggio adopted new statutes, had a mint, schools with celebrated masters, and developed its trades and arts. It also increasingly subjugated the castles of the neighbouring areas. At this time the Crostolo stream was deviated westwards, to gain space for the city. The former course of the stream was turned into an avenue called Corso della Ghiara (gravel), nowadays Corso Garibaldi.

The 12th and 13th century, however, were also a period of violent internal struggle, with parties of Scopiazzati and Mazzaperlini, and later those of Ruggeri and Malaguzzi, involved in bitter domestic rivalry. In 1152 Reggio also warred with Parma and in 1225 with Modena, as part of the general struggle between the Guelphs and Ghibellines. In 1260 25,000 penitents, led by a Perugine hermit, entered the city, and this event calmed the situation for a while, spurring a momentous flourishing of religious fervour. But disputes soon resurfaced, and as early as 1265 the Ghibellines killed the Guelph's leader, Caco da Reggio, and gained preeminence. Arguments with the Bishop continued and two new parties formed, the Inferiori and Superiori. Final victory went to the latter.

Palazzo del Monte in Piazza del Duomo, with the Fountain of River Crostolo.

To thwart the abuses of powerful families such as the Sessi, Fogliani and Canossa, the Senate of Reggio gave the city's rule for a period of three years to the Este member Obizzo II d'Este. This choice marked the future path of Reggio under the seignory of that family, as Obizzo continued to rule ''de facto'' after his mandate has ceased. His son Azzo was expelled by the Reggiani in 1306, creating a republic ruled by 800 common people. In 1310 the Emperor Henry VII imposed Marquis Spinetto Malaspina as vicar, but he was soon driven out. The republic ended in 1326 when Cardinal Bertrando del Poggetto annexed Reggio to the Papal States.

The city was subsequently under the suzerainty of John of Bohemia, Nicolò Fogliani and Martino della Scala, who in 1336 gave it to Luigi Gonzaga. Gonzaga built a citadel in the St. Nazario quarter, and destroyed 144 houses. In 1356 the Milanese Visconti, helped by 2,000 exiled Reggiani, captured the city, starting an unsettled period of powersharing with the Gonzaga. In the end the latter sold Reggio to the Visconti for 5,000 ducats. In 1405 Ottobono Terzi of Parma seized Reggio, but was killed by Michele Attendolo, who handed the city over to Nicolò III d'Este, who therefore became seignor of Reggio. The city however maintained a relevant autonomy, with laws and coinage of its own. Niccolò was succeeded by his illegitimate son Lionello, and, from 1450, by Borso d'Este.
The Baroque church of San Giorgio.

The Duchy of Reggio

In 1452 Borso was awarded the title of Duke of Reggio and Modena by Ferdinand III. Borso's successor, Ercole I, imposed heavy
levies on the city and named the poet Matteo Maria Boiardo, born in the nearby town of Scandiano, as its governor. Later another famous Italian writer, Francesco Guicciardini, held the same position. In 1474, the great poet Ludovico Ariosto, author of ''Orlando Furioso'', was born in a villa just outside the town ("Il Mauriziano"). He was the first son of a knight from Ferrara, who was in charge of the Citadel, and a noblewoman from Reggio, Daria Maleguzzi Valeri.

In 1513 Reggio was handed over to Pope Julius II. The city was returned to the Este after the death of Hadrian VI on September 29, 1523. In 1551 Ercole II d'Este destroyed the suburbs of the city in his program of reconstruction of the walls. At the end of the century work on the city's famous Basilica della Ghiara began, on the site where a miracle was believed to have occurred.
The Este rule continued until 1796, with short interruptions in 1702 and 1733-1734.

The Napoleonic age and the Restoration

The "Tricolore's Room", in the Town Hall, is where for the first time the Italian's flag three colours were adopted.
Piazza San Prospero with patron saint's basilica.

The arrival of the republican French troops was greeted with enthusiasm in the city. On August 21, 1796, the ducal garrison of 600 men was driven off, and the Senate claimed the rule of Reggio and its duchy. On September 26, the Provisional Government's volunteers pushed back an Austrian column, in the Battle of Montechiarugolo. Though minor, this clash is considered the first one of the Italian Risorgimento. Napoleon himself awarded the Reggiani with 500 rifles and 4 guns. Later he occupied Emilia and formed a new province, the Cispadane Republic, whose existence was proclaimed in Reggio on January 7, 1797. The Italian national flag, named Il Tricolore (three-colours flag), was sewed on that occasion by Reggio women. In this period of patriotic fervour, Jozef Wybicki, a lieutenant in the Polish troops of General Jan Henryk Dąbrowski, an ally of Napoleon, composed the ''Mazurek Dąbrowskiego'' in Reggio, which in 1927 became the Polish national anthem.

The 1815 Treaty of Vienna returned Reggio to Francis IV d'Este, but in 1831 Modena rose up against him, and Reggio followed its example organizing a corps under the command of General Carlo Zucchi. However, on March 9, the Duke conquered the city with his escort of Austrian soldiers.
Villa Levi (a department of the University of Bologna).

In 1848 Duke Francis V left his state fearing a revolution and Reggio proclaimed its union with Piemonte. The latter's defeat at the Novara brought the city back under the Estense control. In 1859 Reggio, under dictator Luigi Carlo Farini, became part of the united Italy and, with the plebiscite of March 10, 1860, definitively entered the new unified Kingdom.

Contemporary age

Reggio then went through a period of economic and population growth from 1873 to the destruction of the ancient walls. In 1911 it had 70,000 inhabitants. A strong socialist tradition grew. On July 7, the city hosted the 13th National Congress of the Italian Socialist Party Later the Fascist régime oppressed Reggio's people because of these leanings and traditions. On July 26, 1943, the régime's fall was cheered with enthusiasm by the Reggiani. Numerous partisan bands were formed in the city and surrounding countryside.


The Max Mara clothing line is headquartered in the city.

Main sights

Religious buildings

*The Baroque ''Basilica della Ghiara'' (1597), the most important church of the city.
*The ''Basilica di San Prospero''. Built in the 10th century and dedicated to Prosper of Reggio, a bishop of the city, it was reconstructed by Luca Corti and Matteo Fiorentini between 1514 and 1523. The façade, with eleven statues of saints and patrones, was redesigned by Giovan Battista Cattani in the mid-18th century. It includes a pleasant belfry/tower, begun in 1535 and never quite finished, with an octagonal plant. The interior of the church has a Latin cross plant, with three naves. The apse houses the splendid fresco ''Last Judgement'', by the Bolognese artist Camillo Procaccini. Also noteworthy are the wooden choir from 1546 and the ''Assumption'' altarpiece by Tommaso Laureti and Ludovico Carracci (1602).
*The Cathedral (9th-12th century). It was reconstructed in the second half of the 16th century. It has three naves with works by Guercino, Palma the Younger, Prospero Spani and Alessandro Tiarini.
*Baptistery of Saint John the Baptist
*The church of St. Augustine. Once dedicated to Saint Apollinaris, its dedication was changed in 1268 when it was rebuilt, along with the annexed convent, by the Augustinian friars. It was restored in 1452, when the tower was also erected. The current interior dates from 1645–1666, while the façade was added in 1746.
*The small Baroque Christ's Oratory.
*The church of St. Francis.
*The church of St. George.
*The church of ''San Giovannino'' (dedicated to Saint John the Evangelist) (c. 1200). It houses Baroque paintings by Sisto Badalocchio, Lorenzo Franchi, Tommaso Sandrini, Paolo Guidotti and Tiarini.
*The church of St. Peter, designed by Giulio della Torre and built in 1625-1629. A belfry tower was added in 1765 and a façade added in 1782, while the cloister was constructed in the 16th century. The interior is in a Latin cross shape with a single nave. It houses notable Baroque paintings by Tiarini, Pietro Desani, Luca da Reggio, Camillo Gavasetti and Paolo Emilio Besenzi.
*The Baroque church of St. Philip.
*The church of St. Stephen, cited in the 11th century, when its site was outside the city walls, as a Templars' church.

Palaces and other buildings

*''Bishop's Palace''.
*''Palazzo Ancini''.
*''Palazzo Bussetti''.
*''Palazzo del Capitano del Popolo'' (1280, restored in 1432,and again in the 1920s, when its northern and western facades were ''embellished'' with Ghibelline merlons and crests of ancient Reggio's Captains and Communities. In the interior is the ''Sala dei Difensori'', "Defenders' Room"), a wide hall once used for the council of the Reggiani people.
*''Palazzo Cassoli''.
*''Palazzo Cassoli - Tirelli''.
*''Palazzo Comunale'' (begun in 1414), with the Tricolore's Room and the Museum of the Italian Flag. The ''Torre del Bordello'' ("Brothel's Tower"), built in 1489, houses a museum of the Reggiani's deeds of 1796-1831.
*''Palazzo Corbelli''.
*''Palazzo Ducale'' (18th century).
*''Palazzo Magnani''.
*''Palazzo Masdoni''.
*''Palazzo Rangone''.
*''Palazzo Sacrati-Terrachini.
*''Palazzo Scaruffi''.
*''Palazzo Tirelli''.
*''Palazzo Torello Malaspina''.
*The Neo-Classical ''Teatro Municipale''.

Painters and sculptors of Reggio Emilia

*Giacomo Benevelli
*Oreste Carpi
*Paolo da San Leocadio
*Antonio Allegri da Correggio ("Il Correggio")
*Luca Ferrari ("Luca da Reggio")
*Rina Ferri
*Antonio Fontanesi
*Gino Gandini
*Anselmo Govi
*Cristoforo Munari
*Lelio Orsi
*Raffaellino da Reggio
*Prospero Spani ("Il Clemente")
*Nani Tedeschi

Other famous people of Reggio Emilia

*Ludovico Ariosto (poet)
*Vasco Ascolini (photographer)
*Luca Baricchi (ballroom dancer)
*Stefano Baldini (marathon champion)
*Benny Benassi (musician)
*Matteo Maria Boiardo (poet)
*Gino Bondavalli (boxing champion)
*Paolo Borciani (violin player)
*Ermanno Cavazzoni (writer)
*Raffaele Crovi (writer)
*Silvio D'Arzo (writer)
*Giuseppe Dossetti (politician)
*Stanislao Farri (photographer)
*Adelmo Fornaciari (Musician, Singer)
*Sonia Ganassi (opera singer)
*Luigi Ghirri (photographer)
*Nilde Iotti (politician)
*Luigi Magnani (art collector)
*Loris Malaguzzi (educator, and creator of the Reggio Emilia approach to pre-school education)
*Maria Melato (actress)
*Natale Prampolini (reclaimer and senator)
*Romano Prodi (economist, politician)
*Filippo Re (scientist)
*Serge Reggiani (actor, singer)
*Meuccio Ruini (politician)
*Angelo Secchi (scientist)
*Lazzaro Spallanzani (scientist)
*Ferruccio Tagliavini (opera singer)
*Pier Vittorio Tondelli (writer)
*Romolo Valli (actor)
*Giovanni Battista Venturi (scientist)
*Ermete Zacconi (actor)
*Cesare Zavattini (writer, painter)


Bagno, Botteghino di Sesso, Cadè-Gaida, Case Bigi, Case Manzotti-Scolari, Case Pirondi, Case Vecchie, Caseificio Laguito, Castel Baldo, Castellazzo, Castello di Pratofontana, Castello di Vialato, Chiesa di Bagno, Cella, Codemondo, Corticella, Coviolo, Baragalla, Fogliano, Gavasseto, Ghiarda, Ghiardello, Guittone d'Arezzo, Il Cantone di Marmirolo, Il Cantone di Pieve Modolena, Il Capriolo, Il Castello di Cadè, Il Chionso, Il Tondo, La Corte, La Giarola, La Valle, Madonna Caraffa, Marmirolo, Massenzatico, Mulino Canali, Palazzina, Parrocchia di Cella, Piazza di Sabbione, Quaresimo, Roncadella, Roncocesi, Sabbione, San Bartolomeo, San Felice, San Giorgio, San Rigo, Stazione Pratofontana, Villa Corbelli, Villa Curta, Zimella

Twin towns - sister cities

Reggio Emilia is twinned with:

* Reggio Emilia is a pilot city of the Council of Europe and the EU Intercultural cities programme.

Source: Wikipedia