Did you know that - long before they built great buildings accommodating spas, the remains of which we still admire today - ancient Romans had bathrooms in their homes? They were initially supplied only with cold water, but soon the water was heated and increasingly used for supplementary purposes: saunas, massages, and general relaxation. Did you know that advances in modern chemistry pioneered by the University of Bologna were crucial in identifying the composition of mineral water and developing the science of hydrology? Since ancient times water has been associated with major symbolic and cultural meanings. Springs continue to be linked with health pilgrimages and worship of holy or godly figures. To an even greater degree than in the past, staying at a spa is a typical way to pursue mental and spiritual well-being. The author accompanies the reader along an itinerary that blends the sacred and the profane and includes destination such as the Baths of Caracalla, Bagni di Lucca, Salsomaggiore, and Ischia's thermal parks.
This book is part of a new series hosting distinguished authors who transform Italian travel itineraries into passageways full of meaning. A visit to a museum, a historic city, or a natural park should not be a mere review of masterpieces or monuments, but rather a historically and culturally harmonious journey, or better yet a set of potentially parallel voyages, giving substance to stones, meaning to maps, colour to the past. Readers will feel like main characters participating in Italy's long history.
Annunziata Berrino teaches Contemporary History at the Federico II University in Naples.