Social Cohesion Days
II edition

26 - 27 - 28 May, 2016
Reggio Emilia

A brief history of Reggio Emilia

It is said that people of Reggio Emilia are “squareheads”.

It is said that people of Reggio Emilia are “teste quadre” (squareheads). This was confirmed by the poet Alessandro Tassoni who, in 1614, with his mock-heroic epic poem “La Secchia Rapita” (The Stolen Bucket), makes this shape coming directly from Jupiter, who would have definitively changed Reggio Emilia people’s appearance by slapping them after fleeing from a defeat with Modena.

To go back over the history of this feature could be a very long journey. In fact, the origins of Reggio Emilia inhabitants are ancient: from Paleolithic traces to Neolithic villages.

After an intense phase of Etruscan settlements – especially towards Modena area – and Celts and Ligurian ones (the famous physical feature seems to come from the latter, who also possibly introduced pig farming, a practice still relevant in today’s economy), the Roman colonization starts – around 193 BC – leading to the foundation of the Regium Lepidi castrum, the Reggio Emilia that we know today.

Matilda di Canossa and his family monopolize the political scene and influence the territory in the Middle Ages: 1077 is the year of the historical humiliation of Canossa by the Emperor Henry IV.

After centuries of ups and downs, in 1402 Reggio Emilia is conquered by Niccolò d’Este, becoming thus part of Este family’s possessions. It still belong to them even when, in 1598, Ferrara goes back to the Pope and Cesare d’Este moves the new capital in Modena (with great indignation of Reggio Emilia, which for revenge will erect the Basilica of the Blessed Virgin of Ghiara as a sign of their importance and wealth).

Reggio Emilia was also the city in which it was created the “tricolore”, the Italian flag, used as a symbol in the Italian Campaign and in the following national independence wars, which is today enshrined, in its shapes and colors, in the Constitution.

The nineteenth and twentieth centuries, years of incredible economic and social development in ​​Reggio Emilia area, lead to the creation of the cooperative movement. Starting from the agricultural world with mutual aid societies, they will extend to many productive sectors, making cooperation a characteristic element of the local today’s economy.

Between 1943 and 1945 Reggio Emilia dearly contributed with courage and blood to the partisan movement – the Nazi-fascist liberation movement – clearly proven by the killing of the seven Cervi brothers, a history which became the symbol of those years.

In the post-war years, the economic boom affected Reggio Emilia territory, which has become one of the most important economic realities at national level. We cannot miss to report and consider the contextual social growth, evidenced by the consolidation of a excellent healthcare system and a 0-6 educational approach defined in 1991 “the most beautiful in the world” by the American Newsweek.

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