Castrocaro Terme, in the Emilia-Romagna region, about 100km North-East of Florence is steeped in history, and located within a stunning landscape. The town has ancient roots, dating back to pre-history, but it is known as an Etruscan spa (approx. 750-500 BC). The Roman name Salsubium is a clue to the salty nature of the “fossil” waters, which, like the naturally matured “velvet” muds used in spa treatments have their origins in the ancient sea beds that lie beneath the landscape. Its waters are a distinctive green colour, due to the presence of chlorella, and they taste salty – a little like the sea, having passed through an ancient sea bed on their way to the surface. The town took the name Castrocaro in the Middle Ages (from the Celtic name Kaster Kar, which means rocky spur).
The town’s Medieval urban plan, overlooked by an imposing fortress is still almost entirely intact today, with many of its original buildings perfectly preserved. It harks back to a time of major expansion for Castrocaro Terme during the Middle Ages, thanks to the healing springs. In the Renaissance it was the capital of Tuscan Romagna, and during this period, the neighbouring settlement of Terra del Sole, or “Land of the Sun” was commissioned by Cosimo I dei Medici, designed as a city-fortress.
Castrocaro Terme e Terra del Sole
The history of Castrocaro Terme and the related settlement of Terra del Sole spans millennia. A visit to the museum, housed in the fortress gives a flavour of its important historical eras – from the Etruscan, Roman, Byzantine and Longobard, through to the Middle Ages and the Renaissance.
Visitors to Castrocaro Terme, can enjoy a wealth of well-preserved medieval architecture, and valuable Renaissance buildings, from three layers of city walls to imposing fortresses and castles, which are testimony to its history as an important regional centre. Terra del Sole, built as a fortress city in the second half of the 16th century is heavily fortified, but with elegant palaces and beautiful buildings within the walls. This perfect Renaissance urban model is just a 1km walk from Castrocaro along a tree-lined avenue.
A further important period in the life and architecture of the town followed in the early 20th century with the development of a number of important spa buildings which are unique in Italy, combining as they do, Mussolini’s rationalist architecture and the decorative style of Art Déco. For this reason Castrocaro Terme is also a member of the ATRIUM network, another Cultural Route of the Council of Europe.
Springs & Spas
The mineral waters of Castrocaro Terme were known in Roman times, but it wasn’t until 1838, that the waters were rediscovered by Dr. Corrado Taddei De Gravina, a doctor and scholar from Castrocaro. By 1844 a small spa had been built to allow ever-increasing numbers of visitors to use the waters for healing and health, as news of the waters had spread fast.
The 8 hectare Spa Park was laid out in the 1900s around outdoor thermal pools, and contains ancient sequioas, cedars, oaks and flowering and medicinal plants in a vast rolling tranquil landscape. It is the perfect setting for the grand buildings of the State Thermal Establishment opened in 1938. Decorated throughout by famous ceramic artist Tino Chini with ceramics and paintings celebrating water and nature, the new luxurious buildings included the Grand Hotel, a spa building (Palazzo delle Terme) for thermal treatments, and the festival hall (Padiglione delle Feste). Today these buildings exude luxury, quality and style to complement the unique qualities of the thermal waters and muds and a comprehensive range of therapeutic treatments.
The spring we can admire today dates from 1927, the year in which it was restored and improved by Manuel Raspall, who gave a “noucentist” character to the present monument, with the lion which gives the spring its present name, and has become the symbol of the town.
The water is then redirected to the “safareigs públics” (communal washing houses), constructed in the 19th century and still in use to this very day.
Medical treatments in Castrocaro Terme cover a wide spectrum of conditions, and are based on waters from several sources, which are also dispensed at the Fonte Littoria in the thermal park under the names Salsubria, Salsubrium, and Beatrice
There are two types of water in Castrocaro Terme with distinct health benefits:
The salsobromoiodic waters which are rich in salts are used in therapeutic bathing treatments, as well as to feed the thermal pools. They are mixed with the blue clays from the surrounding hills for at least 6 months before being used in mud treatments. Mud therapy and balneotherapy are used for the treatment and prevention of rheumatic diseases.
The sulphurous waters are used in inhalation therapy for the prevention and treatment respiratory disorders such as rhinitis, sinusitis, pharyngitis and bronchitis. The content of hydrogen sulphide (H2S) in the form of gas allows for the treatment of “rhinogenic” deafness, which is very common in children. The sulfurous waters are also used for the treatment of skin diseases, and when drunk can also help gastric and liver complaints.
The wide range of medical and wellness treatments on offer can be found here: Terme di Castrocaro,
Most of the medical water treatments in Castrocaro Terme are covered by the Italian National Health Service.
Beatrice, Salsubia, Salubrua.
Earliest known use
Sodium chloride, bromide, iodide, sulphur.