The keynote address at the 2009 OMEP Ireland research conference was given by a team from the School of Education, University College Cork, who had just completed work on a co-authored book entitled Loris Malaguzzi and the Reggio Emilia Experience for the Continuum Library of Educational Thought. This paper presents some of the highlights from that presentation; the book explores these issues in much greater detail and also discusses the thorny issue of curriculum in Reggio Emilia. The Reggio Emilia early years educators strongly resist the idea of describing what they do as a curriculum, preferring instead the word ‘experience’. If we define ‘curriculum’ in the narrow sense of a set of prescribed learning goals and experiences, (rather than all the people, things, experiences and emotions that the child encounters in the pre-school) then this is undoubtedly the wrong word to describe what they do. Nevertheless, their practice is not by any means atheoretical, and the Reggio Emilia educators continually reflect on and refine their practice. The historical background of “Reggio” as well as the various strands of curriculum theory that underpin thinking on how best to foster children’s early learning and development are both necessary if we are to see it in context and to make an informed judgement on why Newsweek in 1991 described them as “the best pre-schools in the world”.