Set between the hills and the lowlands, Salsomaggiore Terme, as well as nearby Tabiano, is a town where wellbeing, relax and pampering are key, thanks to the saline-bromic-iodic and sulphureous waters. Salsomaggiore is a place of continuous discovery where history, culture, hospitality and nature meet the spas and wellbeing centres.
When you arrive in the centre of Salsomaggiore, you are welcomed by the Terme Berzieri, representing the height of liberty-deco style. It is a symbol of European spa-culture, and offers a world to explore: it echoes Thai style thanks to the artist Galileo Chini; it evokes the Viennese secession and Klimt’s art; it stands out with its refined deco features and rich decoration – in other words, it enchants and marvels those who observe it.
The name pays homage to the doctor Lorenzo Berzieri, who first carried out a study on the therapeutic properties of the saline-bromic-iodic waters of the area. In 1912, construction started on the project thanks to the work of Architect Ugo Giusti and Engineer Giulio Bernardini. In 1919, after the interruption caused by the First World War, the project was restarted thanks to Chini, having returned from a voyage to the Orient, and the building was inaugurated on the 27th of May 1923.
The Terme Berzieri serve as a starting point for a ‘Liberty Itinerary’ which takes you around the whole town, starting from the nearby Pozzo Scotti, a well which was placed there in 1912 to highlight the importance of the waters in the area. The spa building was also chosen as a location for numerous film scenes, particularly the local Oscar-winning film director Bernardo Bertolucci used it as the set for the second act of “1900”. The famous dance scene in his most-prized film “The Last Emperor” was filmed in the Moresco Room in the Palazzo dei Congressi, formerly the Grand Hotel des Thermes, another Liberty jewel you will find in Salsomaggiore. The latter is a luxury hotel built in 1898 by the architect Luigi Broggi, which was expanded and decorated in art deco style between 1924 and 1927 by architect Ugo Giusti, while frescoes were later added by Chini. Inside it you will find a fascinating mix of colours and shapes mixing both liberty and Japanese styles in the Salone Moresco, Sala Lampadario, Sala Cariatidi and the Taverna Rossa.
Every angle of the town reveals a surprise. In the square, you will also find the Warowland building, in neogothic style, designed by Orsino Bongi in 1912. For numerous years, it hosted the “Warowland” antique art gallery owned by count Ladislao Tyszkiewics. In Salsomaggiore, the Liberty ‘stamp’ can also be found in many hotels and private buildings. Wandering through the centre, signs, fences, gates, balconies, platform rooves and decorations in Liberty style can be seen, in perfect harmony with the gardens and hedgerows. You can immerse yourself in the many parks and gardens, and wander between the ancient trees in Mazzini Park, which was previously dedicated to Queen Margherita of Savoy who loved to stay at the Grand Hotel. The park was designed in 1913 by architect Giuseppe Roda from Turin, and is rich in a wide variety of trees, and even hosts a botanical garden dedicated to the Queen. A key feature is the central Japanese-style lake with a pagoda A curiosity: in 1929, to commemorate the death of composer Giacomo Puccini, Salsomaggiore had organised a staging of “Madame Butterfly” in Mazzini Park. The park was chosen as it recalls Cio Cio San’s house, represented by the Pagoda
Music and culture have always “met” in Salsomaggiore: the Teatro Nuovo hosted the famous soprano Maria Callas in 1950, and in 1960 played host to a then-novice tenor Luciano Pavarotti. Giuseppe Verdi also spent time in nearby Tabiano, spending many summers there between 1858 and 1892. Tabiano was also visited by famous tenors such as Tamagno and Caruso.
The step from history to nature is short: the surrounding countryside will allow you to discover the outdoors thanks to its many paths and cycle-tracks, bringing together the environment, culture, history and traditions. The Parco dello Stirone e del Piacenziano tells an important tale from a paleontological point of view, taking you back in time to thousands of years ago to when the Pianura Padana didn’t exist, and instead there was an “ancient sea”. We can get a glimpse of this time at the MuMab, a new museum exploring the history of the area at the Centro Millepioppi in San Nicomede, where there are many fossils preserved that have been found in the area.
Linking to the sea is salt: another mineral to be found in the earth, playing an important part in the history of Salsomaggiore. Still today you can travel along the “Salt road”, meandering along paths and passing through forests, where you will discover old salt mines, Romanesque parish churches and old industrial relics. Acting as a “sentinel” to the area and its salt (which was once called “white gold” for how precious it was) are four castles that seem to communicate with each other: Tabiano, Scipione, Bargone and Contignaco (where it is said Dante Alighieri found inspiration for the Divine Comedy). Finally, you can’t leave Salsomaggiore without having visited the Gavinell Botanical Gardens, a tranquil paradise immersed in nature, with over 450 types of herbs and hundreds of native olive trees. Furthermore, the Romanesque parish churches of San Giovanni in Contignaco and of San Nicomede are worth visiting for their historical-artistic value. At the same time, golf lovers will enjoy the historical golf club, Salsogolf, which with its 18 holes offers a spectacular journey through the valley.