Serendipity in Reggio Emilia

The first stop on our MBA class trip was Reggio Emilia, which for me would come to symbolize human connection and the beauty of coincidences that might not be coincidences. But more on that later…

I was excited to get to Reggio Emilia, because I was originally going to kill time in the city if I got to Europe early. You see, last summer my dad made a fantastic friend in this man named Giovanni, who owns a vineyard just outside of Rimini. Giovanni and my dad have even sent each other some items - my dad sent him some t-shirts and Giovanni sent my dad some fantastic balsamic vinegar. But Giovanni’s family owns a hotel in Reggio Emilia, which my dad told me I could stay in if I needed to. All this information is relevant for later.

The first day we went to a cheese production plant, where we learned about how parmigiano reggiano cheese is made. We were able to sample the cheese and learn what makes the cheese so special. It was really cool to see how much science goes into the cheese making process as well as how much the Italians honor tradition throughout the process.

The cheese tour

Later that rainy afternoon we attended a balsamic vinegar factory, which belonged to the owner of the hotel we were staying in. Immediately, as I walked in I noticed that it was the same bottle as the bottle that my dad was gifted by Giovanni. I got so excited that I immediately sent my dad a picture and told him where I was. Towards the end of the hour-long presentation from the owner, a man comes and joins us in the cellar, who the owner introduces as his brother.

The balsamic vinegar tour, Giovanni and I in center photo.

All of a sudden, this man says “Who is Mana?”, calling out to the entire group. Surprised and taken aback, I raised my hand. Apparently this man was none other than GIOVANNI, my dad’s friend from Rimini…

Giovanni’s family apparently owns the balsamic vinegar distillery and the hotel that his family owns was the hotel we were staying at. I had no idea about any of this prior to that moment. And the balsamic vinegar that Giovanni sent my dad was actually his brother’s. I just thought that it was a fancy balsamic vinegar from the region. I had no idea that it had a family connection. Also, Giovanni actually lives all of the year in Rimini, but he just had some business at their family home that he had to take care of on that day. And when my dad sent him the text that I was there, he was just finishing up and getting ready to leave!

Reggio Emilia will forever symbolize the wonder of human connection and the beauty of coincidence.