Reggio Emilia is worldwide famous for its Reggio Emilia Approach®, the educational philosophy based on the concept of the 100 languages of the child: it’s an educational approach – conceived and developed in the second post-war period by the pedagogist Loris Malaguzzi and recognized as one of the 10 best existing educational methods – which sees the child as active protagonist of his growth path.
A city and a territory in which the social fabric has made it possible to create and spread such kind of excellence, certainly cannot be lacking in the activities designed or suitable even for the little ones!
Here are ten ideas on what to do in Reggio Emilia and surroundings with children.
In the immediate southern outskirts of Reggio Emilia there’s a huge green space of about 600 hectares very popular with locals: it’s the Crostolo Park, reachable from the city centre with a historic cycling-walking path (present since 1700 ) called the Este’s promenade, because from Corso Garibaldi it leads to the park gates, goes into the greenery the scenic Reggia di Rivalta (not to be confused with the Rivalta Castle in the Piacenza area), a “little Versailles” belonging to the Duchess Carlotta d ‘Orléans and his husband, Prince Francesco, son of Duke Rinaldo I d’Este.
The walk is 6 km long, three from the center to the San Pellegrino bridge, three from the bridge to the Reggia.
Still within the Crostolo Park, there’s an area of about 2 miles called the Parco delle Caprette (Little Goats Park) due to the presence of some Tibetan goats free to roam within the green area. There are also numerous games in the area where children can have fun, safely.
Not far away, inside the Mauriziano Park (included in the wider Rodano Park), there’s the Casa degli Asini (Donkey House), a didactic donkey farm that for over 20 years has been promoting the educational use of the donkey as a slow, observer and peaceful animal and offers exploratory activities in nature: the ideal opportunity to familiarize yourself with this animal, take walks and rest in the shade of the grove where Lodovico Ariosto also loved to stop.
On the top floor of the Palazzo dei Musei in Reggio Emilia (a former Franciscan convent converted into a museum in 1830) there’s a real embalmed sperm whale, a specimen of about 7 mt which in 1938 from the shores of the Adriatic, near Senigallia, curiously came to Reggio Emilia, where it was accepted into the Antonio Vallisneri collection of zoology of the Civic Museums.
Also inside the Palace, not to be missed with the children we recommend the remains of the Valentina whale, a 3,5 million-year-old fossil cetacean found on the Reggio Emilia’s hills of the Secchia Valley, and the collection of African fauna by Baron Raimondo Franchetti.
Among the many museums in the city and not far from the Palazzo dei Musei we’ve just talked about, there’s the Museum that tells the story of the Tricolour, the Italian flag born in Reggio Emilia on January 7th, 1797.
The collection, set up inside the Municipal Palace in the halls next to the Sala del Tricolore, is divided into three floors and includes documents, objects and relics concerning the history of the national flag, its origin and further developments until the Napoleonic period and the important nucleus of works of the Ninety Artists for a Flag project.
The great puppeteer Otello Sarzi, that lived here, passed away in 2001 and left a rich collection of puppets to the Reggio Emilia community, from which in 2019 The Puppets House of Otello Sarzi is born in Corte Tegge (about 8 km from the center of Reggio Emilia) and can be visited by reservation.
The WWF Marmirolo Oasis is located about 5,6 miles from the center of Reggio Emilia and is a protected area in which a very large number of birds nest and reproduce. The oasis is open every weekend and holidays from March to June and from September to November and the visit lasts about an hour along a ring path around the two ponds, with stops inside the three huts for sighting. The luckiest ones will be able to observe live through binoculars and telescopes (available to visitors and school groups) numerous species, such as the gray heron, the mallard, the osprey, the snipe and the kingfisher.
The Pietra di Bismantova (Bismantova Stone) is a rocky massif with an unmistakable and isolated ship-shaped profile that stands out in the landscape of the Reggio Emilia Apennines. Already mentioned by us among the excursions to do with children in Emilia Romagna, the area around this scenic Stone offers six routes of medium-easy difficulty, in addition to the “Heart in the Park” route, also suitable for those with motor disabilities.
At dawn in Emilia there’s a small but important magic that is repeated every morning: in the dairies the milk turns into Parmigiano Reggiano, which begins its maturation process to become the “King of Cheeses”. The entire production process is very fascinating for all ages, but for the little ones it can be a perfect moment not only of learning about the local agricultural tradition, but also for their education towards food culture in general.
Discover Nature (and Ecology) in safety
In Reggio Emilia there are some adventure parks that allow children to have adventurous experiences in the woods in complete safety: in the Matildic Park of Montalto there are aerial acrobatic routes, suspended walkways and you can go canoeing on the lake; Cerwood in Cervarezza (within the Tuscan-Emilian Apennine National Park) is instead the largest adventure park in Italy, with 27 different paths, 7 of which exclusively for children.
The Ecoparco di Vezzano sul Crostolo, on the other hand, was created to raise awareness among adults and children about ecology and environmental sustainability, through numerous activities; the park is also a didactic farm and can be explored through numerous paths.
What better way to learn or retrace history than in the places where it was written?
The Reggio Emilia’s hinterland boasts a past of great importance: in Canossa and in the surrounding lands, in fact, lived the Grancontessa Matilde, one of the most important and powerful female figures of the Middle Ages. Throughout Europe, people still say “go to Canossa” to intend to bend in front of an enemy, an expression that derives from the famous historical episode of the humiliation of Canossa.
As a testimony to this famous past, the area is dotted with numerous castles, often sprung up in truly breathtaking panoramic places.
For more info, visit the dedicated page on the official Municipality of Reggio Emilia website.
Social Media Manager for @inEmiliaRomagna and full-time mom.
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