Correggio is a beautiful small town in Emilia Romagna with about 20,000 inhabitants and located between two streams, the Crostolo and the Tresinaro.
The origins of the name of the town are interesting. At one time Correggio was surrounded by marshes and canals and the only areas that could be explored on foot were the upper parts of the banks of these canals and ponds. These raised strips were called 'corrigiae' (from the Latin 'corrigium' which means 'a strip of leather') - so 'Correggio' refers to 'strips of land in the midst of the waters'.
The area of Correggio was inhabited by the Roman age, but there is no evidences of a town with this name, so it is likely that the first populations were scattered settlements, probably the Gallics. By the Middle Ages documents had begun to refer to a place called 'Corrigia', where the Lombards had built a church dedicated to St. Michael.
Towards the beginning of the 11th century a castle was built at Corrigia, owned by the Lords by Correggio, an ancient feudal family that retained control of the city and neighbouring regions for six centuries.
During this period they constructed many buildings of interest within the walls of the castle, such as the 'Palace of the Princes', the nunnery of the Sisters of Corpus Christi, the Collegiate of San Quirino and numerous fortifications to defend the city. Outside the walls they encouraged the development of several villages including Borgovecchio (the 'Old Village').
During the 17th century the Dukes of Modena took over control of the city. Under the duchy Correggio expanded, especially with new buildings in the neoclassical style throughout the 18th-19th centuries.
In the 19th century important changes were implemented in the city layout, especially with the demolition of the walls to make way for wide tree-lined avenues and also of some very old buildings. However, the ancient Old Town remained untouched by major changes.
Your visit to Correggio can start from the the old village of Borgovecchio, where you can admire the 15th century church of Santa Maria della Misericordia, with a portico from the 17th century.
Next you can still see the house of the famous painter Antonio Allegri (1489-1534), called 'The Correggio', because he was born in this city - a monument dedicated to him can be seen in Piazza Quirino (by Vincenzo Vela (1880).
Heading along Corso Mazzini there are some 18th century palaces of great artistic value, such as the beautiful Cantarelli Palace, with a spacious courtyard and a staircase with columns.
The most beautiful palaces and churches are located in Piazza Quirino, such as the Collegiate Church of Saints Michael and Quirino.
This church has a basilica plan, and in its Treasury there is a 15th century ivory casket and more recent paintings by local artists such as Luigi Asioli (1817-1877) and Emilio Meulli (1869-1945).
Other paintings by local artists - Luigi Asioli, Simone Cantarini (called the "Pesarese") and Andrea Capretti can be seen in the 18th century Municipal Palace.
The Renaissance style Palace of the Princes is near the church. Attributed to the great architect Biagio Rossetti (1447-1516), it was built by Frances from Brandenburg, the wife of Borso of Correggio, in 1507.
This is a lovely palace with a brick façade and an impressive gateway into a garden featuring a portico supported by columns of marble.
Continuing along the Corso Cavour there are other palaces and churches worth visiting such as the Teatro Comunale (18th century) and the Rocchetta (15th century), part of a complex that was unfortunately demolished in the 19th century.
In the same area you can still see churches and monasteries built between the Middle Ages and the 18th century, including the gothic style Church of San Francesco and the church of Santa Chiara.
The Correggio Civic Museum is inside the Palace of Princes and has a valuable collection of 16th century Brussels tapestries.
In the Hall of Tapestries, there are evocative works by Cornelius Mattens (the 'Party People', 16th-17th c.): Francesco Madonnina ('St. Michael defeating the devil' and 'Our Lady of the Rosary', 16th c.) and many works by Girolamo Donnini (eg 'The Visitation' and 'St. Antonio Abate', 17th-18th c.).
In the Hall of Correggio there are many works by Antonio Allegri (The Face of Christ, Design Double Sided), as well as other artists such as Benedetto del Buono (the 'Portrait of Antonio Allegri'); 'The night' by an anonymous painter from Romagna, and 'The rest after the flight into Egypt' by Giovanni Boulanger (XVI century).
In the Hall of Mantegna is 'The Redeemer', by the same Andrea Mantegna (1431 ca.-1506), and works by local artists such as the 'Sacred Family' by Bartholomeo Schedoni (1578-1615); 'San Giovanni Evangelista' by Fermo Ghisoni (1505-1575).
In the Gallery you can admire some works by Luigi Asioli ('Portrait of Boniface Asioli', 'Saint Jerome Penitent'), Malatesta and many other painters from Romagna.
At Correggio there are also good restaurants serving typical local cuisine such as ‘lasagne with red chicory', blue cheese and walnuts, 'tenderloin with balsamic vinegar', tart with amaretto, salt cod with potatoes and porcini, ravioli and Cappelletti, the tagliatelle with shaved parmesan and pine nuts.
Among the main courses, I would recommend the sea bass and balsamic vinegar, while savouring an excellent Lambrusco wine.