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Monumental Grand Hotel: rationalist and Roman-inspired elements Grand Hotel Terme della Fratta (formerly: Terme INFPS), Giambattista Giocoli, 1934-1935

Photo: ATRIUM Archive

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Interiors of the Grand Hotel. Luxury for the masses: Fascist consensus building.

Photo: ATRIUM Archive

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Hot spring embellished with Roman-inspired decorations.

Photo: ATRIUM Archive

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Hot spring immersed in the lush park of the spa resort.

Photo: ATRIUM Archive

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Former Casa del Fascio: reminder of a an unpalatable past (Dino Bissi, 1932-1933)

Photo: ATRIUM Archive

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The characteristic balcony of the Fascist party building: symbol of Fascist propaganda.

Photo: ATRIUM Archive

Bertinoro and Fratta Terme, Italy

Thermal town between rationalism and Roman inspiration

Rationalist and Roman-inspired elements characterise the monumental architecture of the Grand Hotel, clearly reflecting the Fascist rhetoric. Once a place of Fascist consensus building, today the relaxing spa resort of Fratta Terme offers the opportunity to experience a piece of European 20th century history.

Spa resort with Roman origins

Important members of the intellectual elite of the time visited the mineral springs of Fratta Terme to benefit from the healthy spring waters. However, in 1927, there were still no bathing facilities. To draw attention to the locality, Benito Mussolini commissioned a campaign of excavations to confirm the ancient Roman origins of the site. Between 1934 and 1935, Giambattista Giocoli built the imposing structure of the Grand Hotel, including thermal baths and a hotel. The impressive building is a perfect fusion between “rational” and Roman-inspired elements.

Affirming the Fascist regime

During the excavations, the small thermal town had become quite well-known. The Fascist regime therefore planned the construction of the Casa del Fascio (Fascist party building) as a tangible presence and symbol of the regime.

Mussolini myth

Fratta Terme and Castrocaro Terme are the only hot spring resorts built under the Fascist regime in Italy. It is not by chance that they were built in Romagna, the place of Mussolini’s origins. The valorisation of the two spa resorts (part of the tourism programme) served the construction of the Mussolini myth in the Forlì area.

Consensus building

The thermal complex of Fratta Terme was also part of the Fascist leader’s social and health programme, supposed to regenerate the Italian population, but also to build consensus among the masses. In fact, it was designed for workers of lower classes, offering access to thermal treatments to the masses. In contrast, the facilities of Castrocaro Terme were desegined for an international clientele of the aristocracy and high bourgeoisie.