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Reggio Emilia (Latin: Regium Lepidi and Regium) is an affluent   city in northern Italymarker, 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 Piacenzamarker to Riminimarker (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 Ravennamarker 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 Parmamarker, Bresciamarker, Modenamarker, Mantovamarker and Ferraramarker, were merged into the mark of Tuscany, later held by Matilde of Canossa.
Corso Garibaldi and 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.

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 Peruginemarker 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 Statesmarker.

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 Milanesemarker 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 heavylevies on the city and named the poet Matteo Maria Boiardo, born in the nearby town of Scandianomarker, 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 Ferraramarker, 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 Frenchmarker 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 Austrianmarker column, in the Battle of Montechiarugolomarker. 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 Emiliamarker and formed a new province, the Cispadane Republicmarker, 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.

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 Italymarker 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.

Main sights

Religious buildings

beside the cathedral is the now deconsecrated baptistry, or church of
  • Saint John the Baptist *The church of St. Augustine. Once dedicated to St. Apollinare, 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 as a Templar' church.
Tourist Information (In Italian)

Palaces and other buildings

Painters and sculptors of Reggio Emilia

Other famous people of Reggio Emilia


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:

External links


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