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History

Santa Caterina has always been a village rich in history.

In the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries Valfurva was an important transit point that connected the Republic of Venice and the county of Bormio through the valley of the Gavia, encouraging the development of profitable business relationships.

Over the centuries Valfurva followed the history and the fate of the "Magnifica Terra", the small autonomous republic of Bormio that succeeded in preserving and enhancing a flourishing business during the years.

In the seventeenth century Santa Caterina became a famous thermal town thanks to the ferruginous water spings discovered in 1698 by the priest Don Baldassare Bellotti.

Two were the springs that gushed out from underground. The first was a spring of sulphurous water, which was rich in sulfur while the second was the so called "akua forta", rich in iron and characterized by a sour and spicy taste.

These waters became well known for their considerable therapeutic properties and their fame soon crossed the borders of our valley. Many people came here from the Mortirolo and Gavia passes, especially members of noble families and aristocrats on their stage coaches.

Slowly the town started to change and became more hospitable. The area that hosted the spring was decorated and a wooden pavilion roof was built to protect it. The roof was quite unusual and unique because of its style which is Gothic and therefore very different from the typical alpine one.

In 1835 a factory to bottle the prodigious "akua forta" was built in Santa Caterina. The water  became so famous that it soon was exported abroad.

During the years between World War 1 and World War 2 the thermal tourism faced a period of decrease. The beautiful pavilions that had been expanded in the early twentieth century were now converted into barns and finally demolished in 1952, after suffering serious damage.

The "akua forta" lost its prestige and its spring progressively died away in the subsoil.

Currently, a small museum of the water that deliberately recalls the form of the nineteenth century building is about to be finished at the arrival of the ski slope "Cevedale", just a short walk from where the old pavilion once stood. Inside there will be a fountain with two jets, one for the "akua forta" and the other one for the sulphurous water. Vintage photos and descriptions will explain the therapeutic properties of those waters.

 

INFO: http://www.altavaltellina.eu/Molte_opportunita/arte_cultura.cfm

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