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The thermal institutes history is lost in the mists of time.
_SBP4828┬®The ancients Romans used to retire to these places to appreciate the therapeutic qualities of the waters and restore body and spirit… in every sense. In the early 1800, science progresses and studies on the therapeutic properties of certain mineral waters become an important support to the therapies, broadening the range of intervention and methods of application. The thermal plants buldings are magnified and enhanced, while the spa returns to be, from a purely leisure place, a place of health, as in the days of ancient Rome._SBP4817┬®Even the spa architecture undergoes a sharp increase and the thermal institutes are enriched with impressive side structures: parks, gardens, meeting places and luxurious hotels.

As you progress through the years, the baths change from place of elite, frequented by the high bourgeoisie and nobility, to a place of care for the lower classes. A very important historical period was between 1900 and 1940, when, even the state has been opened whole bath complexes with strong medical connotation where they were treated diseases of the skeletal and respiratory systems. Our today’s journey takes us right into one of these facilities. Austere architecture, typical of the fascist style of those years, placed in a beautiful park with tall trees, this large complex spa worked until about fifteen years ago, but was forced to close its doors despite still in excellent condition. Not long ago a friend of adventures and explorations called me, inviting me to visit and I could’t say no… but I had no idea what I was going to meet and what I would find in front of the lens. And on one October morning we get in “operational area” … the encounter with the others, the greetings, a hot coffee and taked the “weapons” we begin a patrol around the structure. _SBP4834┬®The place is very large and fully fenced by recent metal barriers covered from the classic orange net of the “work in progress”.

It looked impossible to enter, but there is a passage, even is too much in sight… then we have to be careful. The entrance is from the underground (a passage recently closed) from wich we climb to the first floor. Long corridors, high ceilings, common areas of generous size, furnishings… all exquisitely frozen in time! We begin to run with the torch in hand, because most of the taxes are closed and can not be absolutely open if you do not want to be s een. It is not easy, and the structure, whether from outside seemed immense, inside is a maze. The rooms are arranged symmetrically and are mirrored, so the central body, crossed the entrance, presents the areas in front and on either side. The lateral bodies arranged over 4 floors with the rooms, while all the surgeries and the area for therapies are central, but rear. In addition, an extensive network of underground tunnels runs throughout the structure, but it is not always communicating. To visit without losing we take the rescue radios that I always carry with me and we used the signs placed on the walls with the providential maps with red dot: “You are here”.

The first impression is that the place is still in use… little dust, a few environments in disorder and often the furniture is still neat as if waiting for someone, or as if that someone had left recently. Going around in the ground floor and each corner are exclamations of wonder. We get to the dining room, a huge living room, with large windows and tables with chairs perfectly ordered, placed as to do the cleaning. Tablecloths, plates, glasses, jugs, ashtra and oil cruets and salt shakers in the classic chromed steel. In short, you would not believe… a revelation. Then we take the direction of meeting room and reception, with papers scattered on the table, the woodwork, the furniture and, in one corner, a large safe… open, but unfortunately empty._SBP4655┬®We turn again to the sitting rooms with green tables on which our imagination sees yet aligned rows of cards in a fierce game of canasta. Let’s start the tour on the upper floors, climbing stairs and walking along the long dark corridors (very “Shining” to be honest) but the rooms offer little, and furniture, with over mattresses folded, are modern and quite sad.

We decide to find the laboratories, and, finally, we can get through a beautiful glass corridor, with the park below. And this brings us into another scenario, beautiful and disturbing at the same time. The medical clinics are in order, with beds covered by white sheets, work tools, various equipment, cabinets with medicines, scales weighs and… hanging cloths. The situation is becoming absurd, on a desk there is even a vase with now dry flowers. Billboard on the desk, notebook and pens along with the stethoscope and the device to measure the pressure._SBP4914┬®In an outpatient we also found an oxygen cylinder charging… There was a time when I had to stop to pick up ideas, so many were the spots that I do not know where to start in this wonderful place. As good explorers-photographers did not touch anything, because everything was so perfect that it seemed an already set up set.

We will spend a good two hours exploring every space, discovering the massage rooms and other surgeries, before deciding to go to the basement. Here it is complicated because not always they communicate, and in some cases you have to go up and to descend down on the other side… with a high risk of losing orientation. With not much effort we come to the kitchens. Fine, steel, with all the pots, ladles and… in an industrial fryer, leftover food… who knows what, best not to investigate. The light filters through the air vents and creates a surreal environment. And then is the turn of the warehouses, workshops for repairs and tailoring, a small pearl. Sewing machines, shelves with blankets and sheets and, in a closet, nicely sorted, the uniforms of the service staff.
_SBP4783┬®It starts to be late and getting dark, we are tired and we decide to move towards the exit, but not before we had found access to the analysis laboratory, with inside a beautiful glass column, still intact. It ‘s time to get out, we go back and in a moment we find ourselves in the street. The injuried elephant is behind us, perhaps glad to have given to a small group of urban explorers a bit of its history. We on our part we can only be grateful to him for giving us his time and revealing his secrets. But we will return.

…per vedere tutte le altre foto di questo edificio abbandonato, fai click qui.

Stefano Barattini


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