The building, originally a magnificent luxury hotel (Grand H.tel des Thermes) designed in 1898 by the architect Luigi Broggi (1851-1926), was inaugurated in 1901. Management was initially entrusted to two hotel entrepreneurs, Cesare Ritz and baron Adolphe Pfiffer, who already boasted a portfolio of prestigious hotels in various European cities, which played in their favour, allowing them to attract an elite international clientele. The building had an horseshoe plan and originally counted 300 rooms dislocated on four grounds, while the facade alternates exposed brick bands.
The Art Nouveau Style is apparent in the painted decorations by Gottardo Valentini (1820-1884) and in the canopy above the entrance and the railings in wrought iron, by Alessandro Mazzucotelli.
Over the course of the years, radical changes were made to the original structure of the building. In the 1920s the hotel was sold to the “Grandi Alberghi Salsomaggiore” company, which began a programme of works to upgrade the hotel to the high standards demanded by its prestigious clientele.
The renovations were directed by Ugo Giusti and Galileo Chini, who had finished their work on the Berzieri Thermal Spa. The pair were able to create a new extension that formed an annex to the existing structure, comprising the magnificent Moorish Room (Salone Moresco), the Red Tavern (Taverna Rossa) and a loggia overlooking the nearby park. The refurbishment extended to decorative work in the dining room (Sala delle Cariatidi-Caryatids Room), characterised by statues depicting female figures symbolising physical wellbeing and beauty.
Antonio Veronesi and the Chini furnaces took charged of the huge skylight in the Moorish Room, the sculptor Salvatore Aloisi created the models of the stuccoes and the sculptures and the furniture maker Franco Spicciani from Lucca devised tables and chairs lacquered in red for the Red Tavern.
The swimming pool, designed by Vittoriano Veganò (1919-1996), was built at the end of the Second World War when ownership of the building passed to Count Leoni. Since 1965 it has been owned by the Municipal Council of Salsomaggiore and is used as a Conference Centre.
Nowadays the building, besides the congress centre, houses a high professional school (Istituto Professionale Statale per i Servizi Alberghieri) while the opposite wing houses many municipal offices and the civic room “Sala Mainardi”.
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