Surrounded by rolling green hills, Salsomaggiore Terme lies between the provinces of Parma and Piacenza, in the heart of Northern Italy and the Po Valley, about an hour from Milan and Bologna.
The Spa town with its exquisite Liberty and Art Deco style is an ideal destination for those looking for a place to relax and is particularly recommended for recovering from the stressful times of the city thanks to the stillness of the places, to the wide green areas and to its wellness centre where you can have regenerating treatments done.
Moreover, the several routes dedicated to road bikes, mountain bikes and hiking are an irresistible attraction for sports enthusiasts and for those who love doing outdoor activities in the middle of nature.
The packed calendar of events offers new content every year from April to October, including a major attraction every month: music-themed evenings, market stalls through the streets of the town centre, the well-established themed festivals, but also classical music and literary reviews and events devoted to food, flagship of the Parmesan tradition.
The face of the spa town had already been built at the end of 19th century and during the lush Art Déco season the Berzieri Spa rose to become the symbol of the city for its thermal waters as well as for its art and architecture.
The decorations by Galileo Chini impressed the unmistakable Liberty-Déco influence on the magnificent building inaugurated in 1923 and based on a design by Ugo Giusti and Giulio Bernardini.
Berzieri Spa also serves as a hub for a “Liberty Tour” that winds through the city, starting from the overlooking Scotti Well, whose cage in glass and wrought iron was placed in 1912 to highlight the Bromine-iodine saltwater that once flowed there.
Continuing across Berzieri Square, near the Thermal Spa stands the Warowland Building, a structure with stylistic elements that take inspiration from neo-medieval Lombard style, designed by Orsino Bongi in 1912 upon the commission of count Ladislao Tyszkiewicz. Once an art gallery, today it houses the IAT Tourist Information Office.
Continuing the route, we find the Conference Centre, former luxury hotel “Grand Hotel Des Thermes”, built in 1901 on a project by Luigi Broggi, decorated by the artists Valentini and Mazzucotelli from Milan and later frescoed by Galileo Chini.
Near the Conference Centre, the Liberty-Déco intervention carried out on the former Kursaal Casino is still visible, and it can be accessed by the monumental Berardinelli Steps, which close out the Viale Romagnosi.
In Salsomaggiore, the Liberty style and its influence can be seen not only in the structures described above, but in many hotels and private buildings, too. Strolling through the streets of the town centre, the signs, railings, gates, balconies, canopies and decorative elements of buildings all take inspiration from the plant kingdom, creating a marvellous “artificial park”, in perfect harmony with the architecture of the town’s parks and gardens and the decorative elements of the flowerbeds.
You can’t leave the thermal city without visiting the salt castles built on the hills around Salsomaggiore, in medieval times, by the powerful Pallavicino marquises and the Gavinell Botanical Garden, a heaven of tranquillity and natural wellness surrounded by greenery, with more than 450 species of plants.
The undisputed number one fine food is Parmigiano Reggiano (PDO), which can also be bought directly from the various dairies located in the hills around Salsomaggiore and Tabiano Terme.
Those with a sweet tooth can indulge their palates with traditional local treats, including “Brutti ma buoni”, cookies with egg white, hazelnuts and almonds, and “Amaretti”, made with a mixture of sweet and bitter almonds. Salsomaggiore and Tabiano Terme boast an age-old patisserie tradition: the famous "focaccia", a leavened cake similar to panettone, stuffed with candied fruit, artisan ice cream and also fine artisanal pralines.
Liqueur lovers, on the other hand, can enjoy “Camomillina”, “Nocino”, “Bargnolino” and “Limoncino” made by Colombo, the historical salsese liquor factory that works only with natural products and artisan methods.
Moreover, since 2015 a special commission has selected 11 De.C.O products, a territorial certification that attests the local origin of an agri-food product, guarantees its quality, its tradition, and its production in the municipal area.
In addition to the Salsomaggiore Thermal Spa, the indoor thermal pool “Jodium” offers salsobromoiodic waters at the temperature of 31 º C. The Tabiano Thermal Spa, (4 km) with its sulphurous waters offer traditional and wellness treatments.
In the hills, the historic Salso Golf Club (now part of the Parma Golf Experience brand) with its 18 holes presents a spectacular path in the verdant valley.
From October to June, the Teatro Nuovo theatre programme offers a calendar of performances for everyone, which reaches its climax with the Great New Year’s Concert and the Easter Concert.
Other well-established events:
the Sojasun Verdi Marathon foot race in February,
the concerts of “Musica alle Terme” program from March to June,
Notte Celeste and Street Food Festival in June and September,
Salso Summer Class & Festival from June to August,
Festival Beat in July.
On the rolling hills surrounding Salsomaggiore, the Scipione Castle of the Pallavicino marquises, the Tabiano Castle and the Aldighieri fortress of Contignaco are definitely worth a visit. These are the Pallavicino family's ancient manor-houses, which in the Middle Ages had the function of guarding over the many salt wells in the area.
Around the city there are also two beautiful examples of Romanesque art built between the XII and XIII centuries: the Romanesque San Nicomede Parish Church, located in the town with the same name (about 5 km from the centre) and the Romanesque San Giovanni in Contignaco Parish Church (2,5 km).
For nature lovers, just a few kilometres from the city centre, you can reach the Regional Park of Stirone and Piacenziano. The entire Park has an extraordinary importance from a paleontological point of view.
The works and the exhibition set-ups of the new Stirone museum complex, which will also host the Paleontological Museum “Ancient Sea”, are ongoing.