Milan and surrounding areas

ROMAN THERMAL SPA REVISITED: SALICE TERME, LOMBARDY

Salice Terme, once the seat on an ancient Roman thermal spring and spa, is now a small town in the hilly region of Oltrepo Pavese, at the foot of the Apennine Mountains.

Intersection of Lombardy, Piedmont, Liguria, Emiglia Romagna

Just about a 90 minute drive south of Milan, the Oltrepo is an area South the Po River, at the crossroad of three regions: Piedmont, Lombardy, Emilia Romagna and Liguria.

Influences from these four regions are reflected in the local dialects but above all in the cuisine, where one can find recipes featuring fish from the Mediterranean Sea (i.e. bagna cauda, a warm olive oil-based sauce with anchovies), and Piedmont inspired meat-stuffed pasta (i.e. ravioli di brasato, stuffed with slow cooked beef filling), beside great wines, cheeses and salami.

The Oltrepo is famous for its vineyards and delicious wines, such as Bonarda, Gavi di Gavi, Prosecco and the sparkling whites of Santa Maria La Versa.

A thermal location known since Roman time for its spring water (there are still the ruins of an ancient Roman spring), Salice Terme and the nearby village of Rivanazzano boast spa pools feed by natural thermal spring water containing selenium, bromide and iodine, ideal for relaxing massages, mud wraps / scrubs, other healing and wellness body treatments.

As witnessed by surviving local local villas and palaces, Salice Terme was until a few decades ago the sought after destination for long summer vacations and wellness retreats of the upper class, who stayed at several prestigious local hotels to enjoy daily trips to the baths and the spa and relax in the natural beauty of the surrounding hills.

Vineyards around Salice Terme, Lombardy

While the ancient luxury of the ‘thirties and ‘forties belongs to the past, nowadays Salice Terme enjoys a renewed popularity for its closeness to large cities such as Milan and Turin, to art and historical destinations such as Pavia and Volpedo, and to the Mediterrannean Coast, as well as for its great food and wines.

In the summertime visitors can play golf in the local 18 hole golf course, splash in the large outdoor swimming pools, hike on the nearby Appennine Mountains trails, bike on the footsteps of famous biking champions such as Bartali and Coppi, taste wine in the local cellars, savor local cheeses, ravioli or salami, or simply relax in nature.

Proximity to the Salt Path Trails and the Apennine Mountain paths, make Salice Terme ideal for nature lovers, hikers, bikers, “foodies” as well as off-road motorcycling aficionados.

Shoppers will not want to miss a trip to the nearby large shopping Oulet of Serravalle Scrivia, where they can enjoy major discounts on Italian and international fashion brands such as Hugo Boss, Prada, Versace, Gucci and many, many others. At the Serravalle Scrivia outlet shopper will not only find famous clothing and fashion brands but also shoes, home accessories, watches and jewelry, cosmetics and perfumes, fine food, coffee shops and restaurants.

Beyond Milan Expo 2015: trendy spots in the city.

Milan is the main industrial, commercial, and financial center of Italy and a leading global city. Its business district hosts the Borsa Italiana (Italy’s main stock exchange) and the headquarters of the largest national banks and companies. The city is a major world fashion and design capital.

Milan’s museums, theaters and landmarks (including the Milan Cathedral, the Duomo, the fifth largest cathedral in the world)

Milan, the Cathedral (Duomo)

Milan, the Cathedral (Duomo)

and the Basilica of Santa Maria Delle Grazie, decorated with the famous Leonardo da Vinci’ painting, the Last Supper, a UNESCO World Heritage Site) attract over 8 million annual visitors.

Milan hosts numerous cultural institutions and universities and is also well known for several international events and fairs, including Milan Fashion Week and the Milan Furniture Fair, the largest of its kind in the world.

But Milan has much more to offer: great international restaurants, galleries, exhibits, shows, concerts, world class entertainment, opera at the famous theater La Scala, and the Basilica of San Lorenzo, built on the site of an ancient Roman temple.

Milan, the Basilica of San Lorenzo

Milan, the Basilica of San Lorenzo

 

Here are recommendation for a visit that includes elements beyond the “classical” touristy itineraries.

The big thing going on in Milan right now is Expo 2015.  From May to October 2015 Milan is hosting for the second time an Universal Exposition, the Expo 2015, whose theme is food sustainability. If you go, make sure not to miss the Expo and buy tickets in advance.

 

There are interesting ongoing exhibits at the Prada foundation.

Not to miss: Bar Luce inside the foundation. Designed by film director Wes Anderson, Bar Luce recreates the atmosphere of a typical Milanese cafè.

Fondazione Prada - Bar Luce (Courtesy of The Prada Foundation)

Fondazione Prada – Bar Luce (Courtesy of The Prada Foundation)

Worth seeing: a large farmer’s market under the stars: Mercato Metropolitano.

Not to miss: the Darsena, the area of ancient canals & port crossing Milan (designed by Leonardo da Vinci & recently restored) which used to connect Milan to the Ocean through a network of rivers and canals. Now you can stroll past art galleries, cafes, restaurants, boutiques and more.

Nearby you can eat a delicious meal at an old and traditional Milanese restaurant: El Brellin restaurant.

If you prefer to eat Vegan, try restaurant Alhambra.

Visit the interesting Italian photography exhibit at Palazzo della Ragione.

For a quick bite to eat while shopping downtown, go to Mercato del Duomo or grab a seat at another interesting & swanky restaurant: Asola.

Lastly, you can get free admission to Expo Milano 2015 when you purchase on your overseas air ticket on www.alitalia.com. Check all the Alitalia promotions to Milan!

If you go in the coming months you will find the city of Milan more alive and vibrant than ever!