Wonder  }  Architecture

Berzieri Spa, an Art Deco masterpiece

The ritual of the waters at Terme Berzieri in Salsomaggiore, a glittering cathedral of the Belle Epoque.

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Where is


Piazza Lorenzo Berzieri, 1, 43039 Salsomaggiore Terme PR, Italia (161m s.l.m.)


What it is and where it is

From the Via Emilia, having reached Fidenza, take the Stirone valley along the road that winds its way up the Apennines, having as its destination the castle of Bardi (625 m). This may be the setting for a trip that nevertheless cannot be separated from a stop in Salsomaggiore Terme, a small water capital that rose to international fame in the early 20th century. Testifying to this is the surprising tone of the many architectures built in those years, making the most exuberant and exotic expressions of Art Nouveau aesthetics their own.

Why it is special

The fulcrum of the ville d'eau is the majestic building of Terme Berzieri, accessed through portals and staircases worthy of a palace, dazzled by exorbitant decoration clearly inspired by the palaces of ancient Babylon. The decorative apparatus is mostly due to the Florentine Galileo Chini (1873-1956), a true genius of glazed ceramics, who was joined for the painted parts by Giuseppe Moroni of Cremona (1888-1959), author of the triptych on the counterfacade depicting the goddess Hygieia with her handmaids.

A bit of history

From the name of a locality its history often shines through. So it is with Salsomaggiore, known since antiquity for its highly mineralized waters extracted from a deep 'fossil' aquifer. Brought to the surface and allowed to evaporate, for centuries they have provided a highly prized salt, ideal not only for the daily table but also, and above all, for that cured meat industry that between Parma and Piacenza has reached record levels. A purest and whitest salt, also defined as 'niveo' because of its very delicate texture.


Between Fidenza and Salsomaggiore, the waters of the Stirone River flow through a valley floor of singular geological nature. The result is almost vertical banks, favorable for the nesting of a migratory bird, the bee-eater (Merops apiaster), which arrives in May from Africa and by early September is already on its way back. A marvel: multicolored livery and curved beak with which it captures wasps and dragonflies on the fly. Present in numerous colonies, it has become the symbol of the nature park that protects its habitat.

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Galileo Chini's ceramics light up this curious Art Nouveau cathedral with color and exotic patterns.


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