A shot by Gaia G. Pengo takes us to Bormio, a town in the Alta Valtellina in the heart of the Stelvio National Park, one of the Italian pearls of winter tourism. In fact, its name is linked to winter sports and alpine skiing – the World Championships have been hosted here twice – but it is also known for its thermal baths, renowned in olden days. In fact, in the Alpine resort there are three thermal spas: the Baths of Bormio, the Bagni Nuovi and the Bagni Vecchi.
Bormio extends into a basin, dug by glaciers and streams, completely surrounded by mountains, and preserves the legacy of its ancient splendor when it had up to 32 towers and when it was called “Magnifica Terra”.
In the historic center, in Piazza Cavour, stands the Torre delle Ore, built in the Middle Ages, while further up stands the De Simoni Castle, which now houses the Municipality. From here the so-called “Quadrilatero degli Alberti” opens up, a fortified complex of buildings belonging to the noble Alberti family. Only a few traces remain of the towers that stood out in this neighborhood, as well as a small private chapel bearing the noble coat of arms they belonged to.
Exploring the town you can visit the Collegiata built in 803 but rebuilt in 1621 after the destruction by the Spaniards, the Oratory of San Vitale, which dates back to 1196, characterized by the Romanesque style and a frescoed façade with the emblems of the guilds crafts; and the Kuerc, the place where meetings were held and justice was administered. In addition, in the village you can see the deconsecrated church of Santa Barbara, and the Ponte di Combo, stretched over the river Frodolfo.
The Gabinat is still in existence here – a term deriving from the German word, meaning “night of gifts” – an ancient tradition established on 6th January, the Epiphany, which consists of a race between all the inhabitants of Bormio who, when meeting, must launch the motto “Gabinat”, in fact, forcing others to offer sweets or to drink until 17th January.
The Bagni Vecchi date back to the Roman era, to be precise the 1st century BC, and they take advantage of water at temperatures between 36 and 43° (which flow between 1250 and 1480 meters) with detoxifying and relaxing properties. The Bagni Nuovi were repaired in 1835, while the Bagni di Bormio are located in a nearby village in the municipality of Valdidentro. The Baths are also known as “Baths of Women”, thanks to the special beneficial qualities for female physiology and skin care.