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San Pellegrino Terme is a commune in the province of Bergamo, Lombardy, Italy. It’s known for its fine quality natural mineral water.
A Natural Occurrence
World-famous for its bottled water, this quaint town offers more than just its (now extended) range of beverages. According to local legend, the ancient springs have healing properties, and it is said that Leonardo da Vinci himself ventured here in 1509 to savour this "miraculous" water.
Along the winding riverbanks, you'll discover a collection of Art Nouveau buildings, some of which have been thoughtfully restored, while others have been left to the whims of time. The Grand Hotel, though closed since 1979, retains an air of faded grandeur, its exterior adorned with enduring features that, though worn, still capture the eye.
The Casino, meticulously restored to its former glory, invites you to step inside and envisage its former opulence. Once the playground of the aristocracy, reminiscent of the Great Gatsby I should imagine, this venue can now be hired for your wedding.
I was slightly shocked to see the state of the original Acqua S Pellegrino site, it looks slightly forlorn and forgotten on the corner of the crossroad.
For nature enthusiasts, an extensive network of hiking trails awaits (check out a guide here). These trails lead to various viewpoints and abandoned structures, providing ample opportunities for panoramic vistas. With various options, there’s sure to be a route suitable for all fitness levels.
Even a brief ascent to the Cappella della Madrera or Chiesa della Madonna Assunta alla Vetta rewards you with sweeping views of the Brembana Valley. While the Funicolare di San Pellegrino was closed during my visit, you might have the fortune of catching it open. It certainly makes for an easier ascent.
If hiking isn’t for you, consider cycling. If you’d rather relax, grab a cake (I recommend Pasticceria Giuliano) and find a bench. If people watching doesn't entertain you, there are ample opportunities to bird watch, even just a short distance from the main street. Avid twitchers will find there is a wealth of variety in this region.
If you're looking to explore beyond the town, consider a day trip. For history buffs, don't miss a visit to the ancient town of Clusone, with its unique planetary clock, the "Orologio Planetario. Dating from 1583, it was designed by local mathematician Pietro Fanzago, and still runs on its original mechanism.
Grotte Del Sogno is worth a look but do double-check their opening times (usually weekends only) and be prepared for potential parking challenges.
After a day of exploration, you'll cherish a well-deserved spa experience. This is where QC Terme comes in. Exquisitely cultivated to harness the essence of the ‘healing waters’, it has been rejuvenated and offers everything from indoor waterfalls to aromatherapy in a bid to restore and maintain your wellbeing.
Throughout the year, San Pellegrino Terme hosts a variety of cultural events and festivals that provide a window into the town's rich heritage. Keep an eye out when you’re in town, you may be lucky enough to catch a show. Check out Eventbrite for what’s on.
Don’t forget to peruse the local shops, you may just find the perfect souvenir. Here is a link to one of my favourites; Bottega di Agy.
Travel and Accommodation
San Pellegrino Terme is easily accessible by car and has the fortune to be fairly close to the Bergamo Orio airport, Have a look at Rome2rio to check your options.
A Taste of Italy
So not only do you get the opportunity to visit the birthplace of the most famous sparkling water, you can sample the natural mineral water itself from one of the many free drinking fountains. Whilst not fully restored to its former resplendent glory, San Pellegrino Terme still has a certain charm about it. Even with the moody weather, I thoroughly enjoyed my pit stop.