I had no idea what to expect before going to Reggio-Emilia, all I knew was that it was smaller than Torino and famous/known for the balsamic vinegar, parmesan cheese and that the Italian flag was made there. Those alone are key and good to know before going. As soon as we arrived at the hotel, I was stunned by the greenery right in the center of the city where everyone can admire the park, whether you want to walk around, sit in the grass and do homework or take a jog. It wasn’t loud and there weren’t too many people to get distracted by if you were to take a blanket and lay on the grass to read or do homework. I got the immediate impression that it was a very relaxed city and not a lot of people or even people in a rush.
The first piazza we went to had the open market still going on upon arrival. It was such a beautiful day to walk around the piazza and shop around. This particular market only had material items and not food to buy. I would like to find markets that have a mixture of both because I might want to buy some fresh local grown fruits while shopping for a jacket. There were other open markets that had one stand of produce, and another open market just on Saturdays in a particular Piazza that is called the “farmers market” to just sell a selection of fruits and vegetables… This piazza had a large fountain that had water shooting up from the ground, and at night time the lights lit up red while the water would shoot up from the fountain, it was beautiful! Also in this piazza, there was shops, a church, and a few cafes. One, in particular, had good prices for food, starting at only 5euro for a well-portioned meal. There was also two tabacchi’s nearby.
Then we went to the university which was absolutely beautiful! The color of the building mixed with the big trees and scenery was amazing, you weren’t walking into your typical college building, it had history and character. It used to be an old military station with barracks, which you can see on the inside with the wooden roof and how it is set up. You wouldn’t think you were walking into the same building from the outside. Inside there is a lot of chairs and tables to sit around aside from the professors’ offices and classrooms, this is where people were mingling and talking or studying for exams. I met a few people attending the university that said they loved the city and chose Reggio Emilia because it was more relaxed than a touristy, busy city. The students were really friendly. This would be a good place to hang out and meet new people outside of class. They also have a cafe/bar connected to the university that has good priced snacks, meals, and drinks!
Around the City
I really enjoyed how everyone in the city loved to ride their bikes from place to place, it makes it faster than walking, and also a good exercise. This would be something I would look forward to when coming to live in Reggio Emilia for the semester, I would definitely get a bike for the entire semester I was there… Even in the spring semester, after the first month, the weather starts to warm up and it’s beautiful to ride your bike from place to place.
Everywhere we walked in the city had small shops for local produce or shopping for clothes, household items, makeup, etc… as well as bigger stores to get more of a variety of foods and other items. There were phone stores near the apartments as well as near the piazzas and popular streets with other shops to easily get an Italian phone while studying abroad or internet if your apartment doesn’t come with it. You don’t have to walk or go far to find what you are looking for.
Overall, I had an amazing time. I loved the city and how easy it was to find exactly what I was looking for without having to go all the way across town. I loved the diversity of people and how everyone was willing to help you speak Italian and slow down to allow you to understand what they were saying. Everyone was nice and relaxed and it wasn’t overcrowded. I could find myself doing a million different things in Reggio Emilia if I studied abroad here. There are so many museums to go into, so many churches to see, mountains to hike or mountain bike, events being held like the photo contest currently going on, the discos and nightlife, the restaurants to eat that come alive at night with music and stay full of people all through the day. I love Reggio Emilia, it’s a perfect mixture of everything you are looking for!
Kaitlyn Lane attended the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. She studied abroad in Torino, Italy and took a tour of Reggio-Emilia during her time abroad.