The spa tradition of Salsomaggiore is relatively recent. Its salsobromoiodic waters have been used since the pre-Roman era for the production of salt for the preservation of food, and only after 1839, thanks to the research of the doctor Lorenzo Berzieri, they are also used with healing purposes. From the mid-19th century, the transition between an economy based on salt production began, and the “Salsomaggiore spa town” that we know today. In ancient times the village was called the “salt village”, and stood on the banks of the Citronia and Ghiara streams, around a dense network of salsobromoiodic water wells. In the old town, on the bank of the stream, stood the salt factory, built in the 17th century under the domination of the Duchy of Farnese and characterized by the imposing architecture of the Salts. Here the salsobromoiodic water was used to obtain, through an evaporation process, the precious food salt.
In 1857 a part of the Saline was demolished to make way for a first spa treatment plant, built on the authorization of the ducal government of Parma and later called the “Old Factory”. In 1902 the first section of the Citronia stream was covered, creating the site of the ancient Piazza Cavallotti, now Berzieri square.
Since 1914 the architect Giulio Bernardini, with Ugo Giusti, starts the work of the current spa. The building is completed by the architect Giusti alone, with the extraordinary decorative equipment of Galileo Chini. The opening of the Berzieri Baths, at the time called “the most beautiful baths in the world”, takes place on May 21, 1923. Later Ugo Giusti begins the construction of the more austere Royal Institute Chemistry, demolishing the ancient Farnesian Salts located in the center of the city.
Between the two buildings of the Baths and the Institute, the thermal power plant is erected, characterized by the high chimney still evident. In 2009 the offer of the Baths of Salsomaggiore expands with the recovery of an entire wing of the Lorenzo Berzieri Plant that is destined for Spa Wellness Center. The intervention, called “Sea of the East”, aligns the offer to the most important European spas: the project is by the studio Emilio Faroldi Associates, now EFA, which the following year also signs the work of recovery, functional redevelopment, redesign and reorganization of the city’s baricentric urban space, Piazza Lorenzo Berzieri.
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