Porretta Terme – a hamlet in the municipality of Alto Reno Terme, in the metropolitan area of Bologna – flaunts a handful of ancient buildings with names such as Marte Reale, Donzelle and Leone-Bovi, clear echo of its glorious past.
Known as Terme Alte, they protect ancient and famous thermal springs and are part of a larger complex that included the ancient baths as well as what used to be the Albergo delle Terme hotel.
Indeed, while the local mineral-rich springs attracted visitors as far back as the ancient Roman age, it was in the 1800s that the Porrettana road was constructed and the thermal structures – of which we see the ruins today – were built.
One of the most impressive sights here is the Bibita Hall, known as “Grottino del Chini” (“Chini Grotto”) because Florentine artist Galileo Andrea Maria Chini (1873-1956) completely covered it in majolicas: between the Donzelle spa and the Marte Reale pavilion, this small rectangular room was decorated with over 5,000 Art Nouveau tiles.
Italian singer-songwriter Francesco Guccini has recently made a public plea for this site not to be abandoned to the passage of time, but instead rediscovered for the wonderful treasure it is.
Porretta Terme (Bologna)
Piazza Garibaldi, 75