Until some years ago, no one really was interested in this little town, you couldn’t even find it on the map of Emilia Romagna. It was just a name on the destination plaques you could find along the street taking you from Forlì to Bertinoro, the balcony of Romagna, a place to spend warm summer evenings with friends, drinking Albana, a delicious white wine.
But at the beginning of the XX age, this place was one of the top one in the imagination of the local people, and not only. A gorgeous Liberty Grand Hotel, very similar to the ones you could see in the French Riviera: brilliant luxury white stone, rounded shapes, gorgeous decorations and a hall with mirrors, boiserie, and a huge, elegant living room with comfortable and sophisticated sofas.
Entering the hall, I still can imagine how life could be here: nice and well-dressed ladies, with little hay hats, spending their holidays here, not only to appreciate the magic natural hot spring waters, discovered by the Romans centuries ago (no surprise about that!), but also to enjoy the huge neo classical style park, the theater (unfortunately torn down last century!) and the wellbeing.
Fratta Terme and its legend
Romans loved to live well and founded their towns near hot springs, when they found them! That is why Romagna has one of the most important hot spring system in Italy with 25 thermal towns scattered throughout the region (http://www.emiliaromagnaterme.com/thermal-spa-towns.html). What a wellness paradise!
At Fratta Terme romans found a well, which you can see in the Park, with 7 different kind of waters, thing that is almost unique in Italy. The legend tells that Antenor, a companion of Aeneas, discovered the well, returning from the Trojan War. Pliny the Elder, in his “Naturalis Historia”, speaks of four holes in Romagna Forum Corneri (the current Imola), Forum Livii (Forlì), Forum Popilii (Forlimpopoli) and the last Truentinorum Forum (according to some of the Trojan Antenor) today Fratta. The curious story related to the current name starts even before. In 667 the Lombard king Grimoald, returning from a shipping to Orvieto, where he had gone to free his nephew prisoner, would take revenge of the bad treatment received from Forlimpopoli and would have razed the entire area. Hence, the Fratta name, from the Latin fractus (destroyed, broken).
The Rationalist Architecture: a fusion with Liberty
Leaving alone the old, “boring” history, let’s find out more about the main building. Built in the ‘20s, and celebrated by Mr. Mussolini (who also did the same with the one of Castrocaro Terme), it was supposed to be one of the centers of excellence and luxury in the area, dedicated to the regime concept of “mens sana in corpore sano” (healthy mind in a healthy body). People could go and appreciate the thermal cures for a lot of illness: vascular whirlpool baths, rhinogenous deafness, mud treatments and baths (for arthro-rheumatic and dermatology ailments), baths (for arthro-rheumatic and dermatology ailments), breathing ailments, ailments of the liver and bile ducts and gastro-enteric conditions, urinary and kidney ailments and dermatological illnesses.
A white, neoclassical, building, with a round shape that goes from the center, with its majestic entry stairway and two wings that embrace the heat of the place: two huge thermal swimming pools, each one with a different water and a well-equipped Spa center.
Living La Dolce Vita
No doubts many Vip, artists and writers such as the Nobel Prize Grazia Deledda, loved this place. As I climb the stairs and enter the hall, I imagine myself jumping back at that golden age. A great mirror with a gorgeous vase of red roses, crystal chandeliers everywhere, ancient sofas and armchairs with little nice tables to sit and read or play cards or just relax and great Liberty window, which let the light enters like a smooth river.
A little paradise in the woods, not so far from Bertinoro and its wines and Forlimpopoli with its Casa Artusi, but still a quiet and secluded place to have a real rest from the outside world.
Warm and gentle Hot Springs waters
After having a nice welcome kit in my room, I was ready to enjoy my afternoon: first a water hot/cold massage at the Kneipp center, then a Roman Bath with hot and cold emotional showers (with lights that change colors every 10 seconds) and finally a scrub massage with Tauleto, a product line done with a red wine produced near Bologna.
Relax is my word for today, taking my time so slow and living my Dolce Vita, enjoying the nice talks with other customers.
The principle thermal swimming pool are always at the same temperature, 37°C, but even if it is hot outside, you enjoy the embrace of the water: first of all on your skin and second, much more deeply, on your muscles. A lot of athletes or sport lovers come here for their “remise en forme”.
In the Spa center, other than what I experimented, there are also some other things interesting for the braves: the Finnish sauna is a real one, with hot stones you can put water on and, outside, a real icefall and also a wooden bucket with frozen water. A real shock, believe me!
At the end, you can end your treatment in the second swimming pool, with a different thermal water. It’s not so salty as the first one but has different properties.
Terme of La Fratta became in these last years a true and common habit for a lot of people. On Saturday and Sunday hot springs are opened till late in the night and you can appreciate the evening, having your dinner in the fancy restaurant at the first floor and then relaxing in the waters.
I had the luck to taste the elegant and tasty kitchen of the Chef Fabio Testori, a nice guy coming from Bergamo, in the north of Italy who choose Romagna some years ago to develop his ideas: local products, like oil, wine and vegetables, elegance with a lot of attention to the wellness and to the aspect of the dishes. All you can see coming out from his hands is a pleasure for the eyes and for the mouth.
Something you should not miss is the Blue Night (La Notte Celeste). Emilia Romagna hot springs centers dedicate one night every year to open their hot springs to everyone. Special events, celebrations, wine tastings, live music and much more with a final launch of blue balloons.
Tips and info
Do you want to live this experience? The web site of the Grand Hotel Terme La Fratta, http://www.termedellafratta.it/en/index.html, offers you all the informations on the waters, the spa and the history. If you want to book a special week end, download their app, which will let you have special discount (http://www.termedellafratta.it/it/offerte-speciali/scarica-la-nuova-app-nellapple-store/promozioni-agosto-per-chi-prenota-tramite-app.html).
How to get to the place: Follow the indications on the Google Map you can find on the website (http://www.termedellafratta.it/en/how-to-find-us.html), in any case, if you are coming from Northboud, follow the A1 and then A14 towards Ancona, exit Forlì. The place is 20 minutes far. The same if you ae coming from the South, A1 until Bologna and then A14, exit Forlì.
Disclosure: thank to Gian Marco Rossi, Manuela Weissteiner, Fabio Testori and to all the staff of Grand Hotel Terme La Fratta who allowed me to live a true and emotional experience, helping me in all the three days and giving me the chance to write this post.