Returning to Reggio Emilia


A month ago we took the train from western Tuscany and headed toward Reggio Emilia where we were able to spend two remarkable days visiting friends and colleagues. We are always thrilled to be back. To sit in what we think of as “our” piazzas, to sip cappuccino looking out the tall, open windows of our favorite B&B, to stroll past the Municipal Theater and the fountains where children play at all times of day, to savor our favorite tortelli verdi, to hug old friends and catch up.


By amazing coincidence, we discovered that Stefania Giamminuti from Western Australia and Harold and Eva Gothson and Gunilla Dahlberg from Stockholm just happened to be in Reggio during the two days that we were and staying at the same B&B! We were able to spend time with them too which was a completely unexpected pleasure.


We started by having a drink with Carlina Rinaldi at The Lady Bar, in the apartment complex where we had an apartment the year that we lived in Reggio and where Carlina has always lived. Marissa also joined us…she used to own the bar with her sister but has now retired. So touching that she wanted to see us and remember the days when we were there. Carlina told us of the projects that she is focused on, mostly with children of poverty and also with immigrant children who live in Reggio. She is dedicated at this point in her life to the populations that need this work the most. What a wonderful treat just to be with her.

We spent the next day at the Loris Malaguzzi Center taking our time in a new exhibit called Un Pensiero in Festa, translated A Festive Thought: Visual Metaphor in Children’s Learning Processes.

The introductions states: …Metaphor is a tool of [meaning making] that creates different ways of seeing the world. There can be no doubt that metaphor is a festive intuition…creativity, irony, analogy, harnessing paradox are presented here so that we might welcome them into daily life with more awareness.

In addition to this wonder of an exhibit, we were able to see Vea Vecchi and Tullio Zini, have lunch with Paola Ricco and Emanuela Vercalli and Tullio, reconnect with dear friend Marina Mori and Giordana Rabitti. We are always so grateful to be able to return to Reggio Emilia and become students again of the approach and the people that have inspired us and others for so many years. .


When we returned home to Vermont, a friend suggested that we watch the new series, The Beginning of Life. What a beautiful documentary series that begins with a the voice and image of Vea Vecchi saying with joy and enthusiasm, Each child who is born is a kind fo surprise for humankind. The third in the series, Free to Learn, features interviews with Vea Vecchi, Claudia Giudici, Paola Strozzi, Chiara Spaggiari, and Simona Spaggiari as well as many beautiful clips of children in the schools of Reggio Emilia.

One of my favorite parts features Paola Strozzi explaining the importance of exploring relationships with children…relationships of shape, of stories, of function. She says that when we begin to explore relationships…for example cutting open an apple together and taking time to notice the seeds…it becomes a story of life. Within these relationships and connections among things we find ethics, beauty and meaning. This is what drew us to Reggio. This is why we return.

We highly recommend this documentary (available on iTunes) or the accompanying series (available on Netflix) It calls us all to revisit childhood with new wonder and within a broad, compelling, worldwide perspective.