Salsomaggiore and Tabiano are two small towns built right into the green hills of Emilia just west of Parma, two locations where la Belle Époque resists time and acts as a frame for the natural spas, nature and great food.
It may seem unnecessary to give suggestions on what to do during the 3-day stay but some advice can’t hurt, right?
Take this moment as an opportunity to lose yourselves in this part of Emilia, which has lots to discover, and to take care of your bodies with almost miraculous waters and muds.
The thermal waters of Salsomaggiore and Tabiano have different properties, however the benefits in both cases are instantly noticeable thanks to an extremely relaxing atmosphere. One of the temples of health is the thermal spa Berzieri di Salsomaggiore (currently closed for renovation) in its impressive Liberty style.
With its water treatments rich in sodium, chloride, bromine, iodide, its architecture and unique decorations inspired by the Grand Palace of the Kings of Siam (currently Thailand), it is, without a doubt, the symbol of this town and you cannot miss it if you are going to spend 3 days amidst these hills.
Interesting fact: on the sides of the entrance of this spa, on the second floor, you’ll find two paintings by Galilieo Chini that represent spring and fall, which are in fact the best seasons to take some time and go to thermal baths. At the wellness centre Centro Benessere Mari D’Oriente you can benefit from the services that are offered, from massages, to body treatments, to aromatic baths, to thermal water paths.
Advice? Combine your preferred body treatment with an Air/Water path. It helps you relax, decontract your muscles and stimulate blood circulation. Results? Peace of mind.
Before literally diving into the water, we suggest you go for long walks in the hills that surround Salsomaggiore and explore the Castello di Scipione, the most ancient castle in the province of Parma.
Although it is a long walk, it is nonetheless reachable from the historical centre of the town. During this walk, you will be able to enjoy the panorama that extends itself over the entire Po Valley, up to this small and impressive medieval village.
Gourmet tip: the castle in itself is not the only work of art, so are the wine and food pairings that can be enjoyed within its walls.
Just outside the perimeters of the town Salsomaggiore there is another castle, Castello di Contignaco, also called Aldighieri’s Fortress. The tour here is not only limited to the bell tower, which is thought to be originated in 1030, but also to the rooms where, according to the legend, Dante Alighieri stayed during his years of exile.
This castle is also where milk and wine are produced, the former from local pastures and the latter from vineyards that extend over the hills surrounding the manor.
After this journey in the heart of the valley that, as you will find out, was disputed for a long time over the possession of salt, you will be able to look forward to a day at the spa which shows no traces of salt anywhere. Contrary to the water in Salsomaggiore, which is rich in iodine, the water in Tabiano has a high concentration of sulphur. This means that the water is extremely beneficial for breathing problems, metabolism and skin.
The treatments, based on thermal waters from Tabiano, in the wellness centre T-Spatium inside the Terme Respighi, give a new shine even to the dullest skin. You have to try it to believe it!
Interesting fact: famous guests who came to these spas include Giuseppe Verdi and his second wife, Giuseppina Strepponi.
You have time for one more visit to another castle before saying goodbye to these lovely hills; Castello di Tabiano, one of the most important defence monuments in Alta Emilia in the feudal era and, like the other two, garrison of the Pallavicino Marquises where Via Francigena and the salt wells were kept under control.
Once again, you’ll be in awe of the frescoed ceilings and halls decorated with mirrors and voluptuous stuccos, but not all castles can tell horror stories of a “Red Door”, red with blood….Ready to go?