Around Reggio Emilia
Reggio Emilia, home of the Italian flag
"...the river, the valley, the people... And you, readers, trust an old man: do not wait until old age to get to know those horizontal spaces, that seem so unattainable and yet are so easy to reach, by all means..."
These words are by Cesare Zavattini, a popular writer and poet from Reggio Emilia, who has always been in love with his homeland. His suggestion is well worth taking, as the plains around Reggio will certainly find a place in your heart, be it on a short barge cruise on the river Po, a hike up a hill to one of the medieval castles that belonged to Countess Matilda of Canossa or a sensually satisfying tour of one of the two local Food and wine trails (Strade dei Vini e dei Sapori).
The river harbour of Boretto sul Po, with the round, pink dome of San Marco overlooking the jetty, looks like it could be the starting point of fairytale cruises. A variety of boats are moored along the quay: houseboats laden with bicycles, cabin cruisers, motor ships used for river cruises, that glide along the canals bordered with reeds to Mantova, Ferrara and Venice. Other destinations include old monasteries and abbeys, such as San Benedetto Po, or nature reserves that are the birdwatcher’s paradises.
The Great River (the Po is Italy’s longest and largest inland waterway) is one of the two main landmarks of the area around Reggio, the other being the Apennines.
The region between the Via Emilia and the mountains, originally a part of Matilda of Canossa’s county, includes an interesting wildlife park, the Parco del Gigante (now a part of the Parco Nazionale dell’Appennino Tosco-Emiliano).
Boretto isn’t only a river harbour, but also a charming little town. Sights include the Basilica of San Marco and the council chamber (sala consiliare) in the Town Hall, with Art-Nouveau frescoes by Marcello Nizzoli (1914). Gualtieri, a few miles downstream, has lovely cobbled streets winding around the splendidly porticoed and rather large Piazza Bentivoglio, dominated by Palazzo Bentivoglio.
Another small art town on the Great River is Guastalla, once a part of the lands of the Gonzaga dynasty, where famous artists and poets (such as Guercino and Tasso) lived for a period of their lives.The Renaissance left its mark on the region around Reggio. Take an afternoon off to stroll under the porticoes of Corso Mazzini in Correggio and visit the Palazzo dei Principi, once the home of the Correggio dynasty of princes, the rivals of the Este and Visconti families.
Other must-sees are the Renaissance Rocca Boiardo in Scandiano (the second largest town in the area), its design inspired by the castle in Ferrara; the fortifi ed medieval village of Castellarano (still perfectly preserved and very picturesque); or, going up towards the Apennines, the castles of the county that once belonged to Matilda of Canossa.
Not to mention the small yet significant monuments found all over the territory, such as the Tempietto del Petrarca in Selvapiana di Canossa, a small tower built in 1839 as a memorial to poet Francesco Petrarca, who stayed here in 1343; or the charming medieval parish church (Pieve Matildica) in Toano, which is still preserved as it was in Matilda’s times, but is much older than that and was fi rst mentioned in a document signed by emperor Otto II on the 14th of October, AD 980.
Strada dei Vini e dei Sapori delle Corti Reggiane
Tel.+39 0522 508 919, Fax+39 0522 508 918
Strada dei Vini e dei Sapori delle Colline di Scandiano e Canossa
Tel.+39 0522 454 666, Fax+39 0522 496 786