EHTTA General Assembly and Cafe of Europe Bursa

The City of Bursa (Turkey) hosted the General Assembly of the European Historic Towns Associations, recognized as Council of Europe Cultural Route since 2009. The ancient capital of the Ottoman Empire is located on a stretch of the Silk Road and has a 1500 year historical thermal background. In this international context, two days of meetings, events and study visits took place from 19 to 21 October.

The case study of the Route of Historic Thermal Towns

The Final Dissertation in Innovation in cultural products by Mrs Jennifer Gaeta a student from the ALMA MATER STUDIORUM   University of Bologna – School of Economics Management and Statistic Campus Rimini – Second Cycle Degree programme in Tourism Economics and Management

The dissertation: Building Europe as a unique destination: The challenge of trans-national destination management in the Cultural Routes of the Council of Europe analysed  three certified cultural routes of the Council of Europe among which the Route of Historic Thermal Towns (EHTTA) has been chosen a study case and model.

Link to download the dissertation:

Invitation to the press conference

Invitation to the press conference presenting the European Association of Historic Thermal Towns at the European Parliament (04/15/2015 – 09: 00 AM)

Communiqué de Presse

Press Release

Invitation à la conférence de presse

Invitation to the press conference

Declaration (EN)

Declaration (FR)

The European Association of Historic Thermal Towns General Political Declaration presented by EHTTA President Giuseppe Bellandi at the European Parliament  on the occasion of the press conference organized at the European Parliament that took place on Wednesday, April 15th at 9:00 at the prescence of Mrs Silvia Costa, European MP, President of the Committee on Culture and Education.

expo salsomaggiore 1

Salsomaggiore Terme hosts the European Thermal Towns Exhibition

Salsomaggiore hosts the Exhibition of the European Thermal Towns Association, a network that joins Salsomaggiore Terme together with other 30 thermal European cities, such as Vichy, Bath, Baden Baden, Spa, Budapest and the Italians Montecatini Terme, Acqui Terme and Fiuggi.

From the 2nd until the 24th of December, appealing photos of Historical European Thermal Towns will be shown at the “Romagnosi” Public Library. Opening Times from Monday to Friday – from 8.00am to 18.30pm and Saturday from 8.30am to 17.30pm.

This Exhibition is the best opportunity to spread the knowledge and awareness to the public about the “spa towns – villes d’eaux”, through the display of photos about the European thermal heritage.

The Exhibition, set up in the framework of the European network of historic thermal towns that organized the “Café of Europe”, is also hosted in Salsomaggiore Terme in order to underline the key role of our thermal city within this European network. The display of panels allow the tourist to sink into the prestigious universe of these smart cities, linking together the prosperous monumental nature of the thermal architecture and the wonderful ornamental details, besides the modern water functions, as a benefit of the Thermal heritage – said the Council member Elena Francani.

This Exhibition can be seen as an occasion to discover the main European Thermal Cities, with whom Salsomaggiore collaborates, in order to develop co mutual goals in the thermal, wellness, touristic, cultural field and local area strategic development. The collaboration will express itself, through the participation/attendance of European calls, linking for example together Thermal route and the Via Francigena, both part of the prestigious programme of the Cultural Routes of the Council of Europe.


“Council of Europe cultural routes: cultural tourism for intercultural dialogue and social stability”. The 2014 Council of Europe Cultural Routes Advisory Forum was co-organised by the Ministry for Culture and Tourism of the Republic of Azerbaijan, the Council of Europe Enlarged Partial Agreement on Cultural Routes (EPA) and the European Institute of Cultural Routes (EICR). The European Historic Thermal Towns Association has attended this meeting.
The event was opened by the Minister for Culture and Tourism, Abulfas Garayev and the Council of Europe’s Director General of Democracy, Snežana Samardžić-Marković. Deputy Minister, Sevda Mammadaliyeva, gave the closing speech of the Forum.
The Forum’s conclusions are set out in the Baku Declaration adopted by participants at the close of the sessions, which takes stock of the achievements since the 2013 Forum in Innsbruck and sets new goals for the future activities of the Council of Europe cultural routes. The exchanges and discussions in the thematic workshops will contribute to further progress and to identifying and elaborating strategies for the future.
The Forum was attended by representatives of the Council of Europe’s 29 certified routes and candidate projects from all over Europe, representatives from member states of the EPA, international organisations (European Union, UNWTO, OECD, ICOMOS), NGOs, local and regional authorities, universities and professionals in the cultural tourism sector.
The four workshops of the Forum produced constructive outcomes and new proposals for action, which will be followed up during the twelve months until the next Advisory Forum to be held in Aranjuez, Spain.

Cultural routes as vectors for intercultural dialogue.
Participants stressed that the freedom to participate was a precondition for intercultural dialogue. They emphasised the importance of direct experience and of tourism as a facilitator of accessibility to experiences where it provides authentic and unrestricted contact between host and guest communities. They stated that creative interpretation must be integrated in the development of the Council of Europe cultural routes’ activities to give space for intuition and emotion, and that engagement with the values of a cultural route may also be expressed through physical activities, including sport.

Cultural routes as drivers for sustainable social and economic development.
Participants recommended that cultural routes work towards raising the awareness of residents and local business communities of the cultural and economic value of their heritage, thus enabling them to become the main promoters of their own culture. They considered that dialogue between Council of Europe cultural routes and local and global business communities should be promoted through creative platforms and that dialogue between Routes and Research and Development departments should be encouraged in a transnational, multi-level approach.

Cultural routes as educational tools for understanding past conflicts, easing tensions and promoting peaceful cohabitation.
The participants in the workshop recognised that cultural routes have the potential to create places where intercultural dialogue can flourish and to foster peace through the promotion of social justice, human rights, economic equity, sustainable development and democracy. They recommended that the Council of Europe cultural routes engage in educational activities about European history, including conflicts, for all types of public. They called upon the participants at the Conference of Ministers for Culture and Tourism organized jointly by UNESCO and the UNWTO (Cambodia, February 2015) to bear in mind the importance of cultural routes for fostering intercultural dialogue and proposed that cultural routes for peace be a theme for the next World Forum on Intercultural dialogue (Baku, May 2015).

Cultural routes as guardians of Europe’s memory and living history.
The participants in this workshop recalled that Council of Europe cultural routes are channels for intergenerational transmission of memory and living history, offering opportunities to tell Europe’s “stories” through the different standpoints of the networks of witnesses and inheritors. They encouraged cultural routes to be instruments for cultural dialogue and reconciliation and recommended the creation of platforms (through research, education, business involvement and new technologies) to foster the co-production of living memories. Emphasising the importance of fostering bottom-up approaches, participants recommended that communities collectively identify and contribute content to cultural routes and that the sharing of cultural routes contents should be based on different means of actively engaging local communities, such as festivals and events. Informative and interactive approaches should balance tangible and intangible heritage and challenge stereotypes to reveal common European stories and citizenships.
All the workshops emphasised the importance of ensuring the full participation of younger generations, and consequently of Cultural Routes developing active education programmes, tourism products and capacity-building programmes that specifically target young audiences, as well as attractive and relevant new communication channels using digital technologies.
During the Forum, the certified cultural routes set up a Task Force to facilitate cooperation and synergies.

Celebration@Sources Acqui Terme 2014 Promo

Durante la manifestazione e per tutta la giornata del 22 Marzo Acqui Terme e la sua storia diventeranno il set di un avvincente concorso fotografico. La partecipazione è gratuita, a mezzo facebook.

L’iscrizione prevede unicamente la pubblicazione delle immagini sul proprio account facebook indicando come hashtag #CELEBRATIONSOURCESACQUITERME2014.
La foto che riceverà più “Mi piace” vincerà un ingresso per due persone nella magnifica Spa Lago delle Sorgenti.

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Il 22 marzo giornata in cui si celebra il World Water Day, la Giornata Mondiale dell’Acqua, ricorrenza istituita dalle Nazioni Unite nel 1992, la città di Acqui Terme, membro fondatore dell’Associazione EHTTA e parte integrante dell’Itinerario Europeo delle Città Storiche Termali, uno dei 26 itinerari europei riconosciuti dal Consiglio d’Europa, partecipa all’iniziativa “Celebration@Sources” una giornata europea dedicata all’acqua termale.

L’evento rivolto alla sensibilizzazione circa l’importanza dell’acqua in tutte le sue tipologie e al suo utilizzo quale del bene più prezioso per la vita sulla Terra — l’ACQUA, si svolgerà nell’ambito del Progetto transnazionale denominato “Sources of Europe: the Cafés of Europe”, della durata biennale sotto la direzione”Route of Spa Towns in the Massif Central”, associazione francese di città termali site nel Massiccio e membro associato EHTTA (European Historic Thermal Towns Association) e capofila del Programma Europeo Cultura e prevede la partecipazione di partner individuati tra le città storiche termali europee inteso a sostenere progetti di carattere culturale e di valorizzazione storico artistica del patrimonio termale.

La giornata ” Celebration@Sources” si svolgerà secondo il seguente programma:
– ore 16.00 — 17.00 Piazza Bollente – Cerimomia dell’Offerta alle Acque Termali di Aquae Statiellae.
La Nona Regio, gruppo di rievocazione storica, metterà in scena l’Offerta alle Acque Termali di Aquae Statiellae con una cerimonia di 20 secoli fa dove la popolazione della nostra Città rende omaggio alla Natura simboleggiata dall’Acqua Bollente che emerge dal profondo della terra.
– dalle ore 16.00 alle 19.00 – Terme Aperte – presso lo stabilimento Nuove Terme delle Regie Terme Acqui.

“Via Francigena and the Pilgrimage Ways” Magazine

The Delegate General Michel Thomas Penette gave a speech on the EHTTA and the Cafè of Europe at launch event of the latest issue of “Via Francigena and the Pilgrimage Ways” Magazine took place on Thursday 12th December at the prestigious seat of the Italian Institute of Culture in Paris. The issue offers an overview of the Via Francigena in the four relevant countries – England, France, Switzerland, Italy – and opens to the other Council of Europe Cultural Routes: the Ways of St. James, the Historical Thermal Towns and the St. Martin of Tours Route.



Speech by Giuseppe Bellandi, Mayor of Montecatini Terme, as new EHTTA president

Dear friends,

It’s with great pleasure and honour that I accept the candidacy to the EHTTA presidency and I thank you for the confidence you granted me. We will continue working together to achieve new goals and face European challenges, aware of the force that this important network we established in 2009. First I would like to thank the outgoing President Christian Corne for the passion, determination and great sense of responsibility he showed in his mandate. I’m confident he will continue to show his vibrant support to EHTTA in the future, as Honorary President. The tangible results achieved in such a short time show on the one hand the strength of the EHTTA network in terms of political consolidation and sharing of objectives, on the other the valuable support that our European association may have in terms of team and experience.

I’d like to thank the EHTTA staff: Michel Thomas-Penette, General Delegate; Marion Vansingle, project manager and SOURCES project coordinator, Raffaella Caria, executive secretary, Catherine Lloyd for the her competence and precious help she gave us in the preparation of the answer to the Culture programme. I hope that this extraordinary European team can continue to grow and sustain us in the next two years.

Taking up what we already have shared so far in terms of planning, strategic planning and future goals, I would like to express only a few considerations on the axes that we will develop together in the next months:

European dimension and cultural routes program of the Council of Europe: the recognition EHTTA to Cultural Route of the Council of Europe is the starting point around which we will continue carrying out our work. This far sighting “intuitive” program launched in 1987, has entered a crucial phase today thanks to the consolidation of the Enlarged Partial Agreement on Cultural Routes involving 23 countries. This program invites us to foster relations with the European institutions and the national representatives standing for us in Brussels and Strasbourg in order to reinforce the political lobby around the theme thermalism, in all its forms: from traditional thermalism to thermal tourism and well-being.

Local communities and European thermal regions: the expansion of the membership base, which today already boasts 25 members, is an important objective of the next years. To increase the number of cities and city networks (such as Ancot, National Association of Italian Municipalities) EHTTA gives the network a much higher recognition at the European level and in terms of political representation on issues related to hydrotherapy. A challenge that we have to face is the achievement of a greater involvement of European thermal regions: it is to involve in each Country/the Region/s representative on the thermal subject developing appropriate synergies. In this regard we are already engaged in a dialogue with the network NECSTouR that has the Italian Region Tuscany as leader. (Montecatini Terme is part of it)

European projects and EU funding: the project SOURCES financed under Axis Culture represents an important opportunity for dialogue, meeting, promotion and visibility for the network EHTTA and for people who are directly involved. This project becomes a model of itinerant festival around which we can try to characterize future projects in the cultural field. We are also waiting for the new EU Structural Funds 2014-2020 programming in order to evaluate all areas of cooperation and future strategies of action for participation in calls for proposals, though undoubtedly we will take into consideration the areas of tourism, land development and urban planning, youth exchanges between twinned towns.

By next December we await the response of the European Commission for the STAR project, carried out in cooperation with two Cultural Routes of spirituality and pilgrimage of the Council of Europe: Via Francigena and the Camino of Santiago. Other European future projects could always be carried out in cooperation with European Cultural Routes. Our General Delegate Michel Thomas-Penette will continue to support us in this important action.

Scientific Committee and research. The Scientific Committee is one of the necessary conditions to maintain the label of the Council of Europe. Our network needs to strengthen the scientific and research, based on a committee that will ensure expertise and experience embracing the various fields in an interdisciplinary manner. I would like to thank Paul Simons and Michel Thomas-Penette who will represent us at the Forum of Cultural Routes in Innsbruck, the first focus group for dealing with this multidisciplinary challenge.

Communication and visibility: EHTTA is working determinedly to strengthen its communication and visibility with several tools that are made daily available and updated: newsletter, EHTTA and SOURCE websites, facebook, twitter, blogs, dvd.

The goal is two-fold and stands on two levels: that of a greater recognition at European and national level, that of larger visibility in the local territories, also through a homogeneous signposting system, clear and readable and should highlight our European network. Increased communication will also aim to involve the social fabric of our local communities.

EHTTA and the network of cultural routes of the Council of Europe represent a great opportunity for development of “minor” territories and sustainable tourism, creating important sustainable economies that can promote employment, welfare and development.

We also know that the European Commission takes into particular consideration our project and our network of thermal towns, not surprisingly, in fact, the Commissioner Antonio Tajani explicitly mentioned it on the occasion of the European Day of Tourism which was held in Budapest in May 2011, indicating the EHTTA as a model of good practice for sustainable and tourist development of territories.

In recent years all over Europe has grown exponentially the value and importance of thermalism that is becoming a very flourishing tourism sector. The European Commission is also actively supporting many initiatives related to the development of the spa industry in all countries of Europe because the latest demographic data show that it is expanding and that it is actually aimed at people of all age groups. There are four categories into which we shall try to extend the tourism sector and the benefits of the thermal waters: 1. young people between 18 and 30 years old, 2. senior, 3. individuals with disabilities, and finally, 4. low-income families who do not have to give up for this short break to relax.

With this I have just concluded my presentation; I am feeling a little emotional but confident and full of expectations.

It is understated that EHTTA is continuously growing and is attracting major attention within the European institutions thanks to the precious commitment carried out by each member of the network.

I thank you for your attention, sure of your collaboration to work together as a TEAM for the following two years of my mandate.

Giuseppe Bellandi