Official Tourist Information Site of Salsomaggiore Terme - Italy

Brief history of Tabiano Bagni

Brief history of Tabiano Bagni


Formed around the same time as those of Salsomaggiore, the sulphurous waters of Tabiano were exploited as early as 1600 by locals who were well aware of their therapeutic effects in the treatment of skin conditions both in men and animals. It was Marie Louise of Austria, the wife of Napoleon, enlightened ruler of the Duchy of Parma and Piacenza and regular patron of thermal spas all over Europe, who founded the Tabiano Thermal Spa in 1841.

The Parish priest of Tabiano, Jacopo Calestani, convinced of the need to let everyone benefit from the therapeutic properties of the water, petitioned the duchess to visit the town, which she did to a rapturous welcome in the autumn of 1837. The priest convinced her of the water’s therapeutic benefits by showing her the results of detailed analyses carried out by two eminent chemists. The duchess ordered the purchase of the land with the “Pergoli” spring and, by immediate decree, gifted it to the Civil Hospice of Borgo San Donnino (the present-day Fidenza), along with a substantial donation for the construction of a “convenient establishment” to replace the rudimentary structure dating back to circa 1820, to exploit the therapeutic benefits of the sulphurous waters of Tabiano.

Following the construction of the thermal spa complex, which included 12 rooms, each with a marble bathtub, and a special steam-powered machine to heat the water, in 1841 the duchess ordered the building of a road from Tabiano to Borgo San Donnino, which was the first step towards attracting more visitors to the spa resort; the following year, the town’s first hotel was built. Doctor Lorenzo Berzieri (who had also discovered the health benefits of the waters of Salsomaggiore) was appointed medical director of Tabiano Thermal Spa and helped promote the town through his studies, exchanging friendly correspondence with illustrious figures and enjoying the sincere esteem of the composer Giuseppe Verdi.

Verdi liked to sojourn in Tabiano every year in order to take the waters, accompanied by his second wife, Giuseppina Strepponi; coming by coach, he enjoyed taking long walks in the hills around Tabiano. He was often joined by a group of friends from opera circles, including Caruso, Tamagno, the librettists Boito and Illica (the latter from Castell’Arquato) and many other famous guests. Management of the complex was later entrusted to Prof. Emilio Respighi (1860-1936), a remarkable physician who devoted much of his professional life to Tabiano, and after whom the thermal spa complex is named. Respighi, like his predecessor Berzieri, was a researcher and used the thermal waters of Tabiano to treat skin disorders and lead poisoning.

In 1933, the Medical Directorship was entrusted to doctor Teresio Rogate, specialised in Paediatric medicine, and later also in Dermatovenerology, Hydrology and Climatotherapy. His appointment signaled the introduction of the modern-day figure of medical director that was to characterise the entire future of the thermal spa of Tabiano.

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