History of the Mineral Waters of San CandidoHistory of the Mineral Waters of San Candido

Grand Thermal Hotel Wildbad

The ancient historian Josephus Plaseller says of these springs: "Natura in valle foro Inticae vicina acquis soteriis provocandis prodigior erat quam in aliis locis", i.e. "The nature in the valley near the town of San Candido (whose ancient name was first "Inthia" and then "Intica") was much richer than that of other areas thanks to the presence of healing waters".

This statement fully grasps and defines precisely the healing powers of the mineral water of San Candido. These waters were already known and used for healing purposes in pre-Roman and Roman times.
Ancient amphorae of the Illyrians, the ancient people native of the area, were found near the springs.
Coins and statues ranging from the period of the Roman emperor Vespasian (69 - 79 A.D.) to that of Antoninus Pius (138 - 161 A.D.) were found as well.
A beautiful bronze statue, which is now exhibited at the museum of Innsbruck, is an important testimony because Zeus was considered by the ancient Romans as being the protector of baths. Nearby stood a Roman castrum called "Littamum", which according to some historians is believed to be the ancient settlement located in the territory of San Candido (near the site of the springs).This castrum was a place where the Roman troops traveling from the stronghold of Aquileia to the borders of the Empire along the Danube River could stop to rest during their journey on the narrow and uncomfortable wagons of those times and to have restoring bath in the nearby sulphurous waters of San Candido.

These mineral waters were used for their healing properties also during the Middle Ages.

In 769 A.D. the Benedictine monks started the construction of a marvelous basilica in pure Romanesque style in San Candido to convert the Illyrian pagans to the Christian faith.
This basilica, excellently restored on the occasion of its 1200th anniversary, is one of the most ancient and interesting of its kind in the eastern Alps.

The Benedictines ran the thermal baths in San Candido until 1500. In the XVI century the fame of the thermal baths had spread to the point that in 1591, near the place where the five springs gush, Dean Hyeronimus Schüsser ordered the construction of a chapel for the votive offerings of the many personalities of the time that had benefited from the healing effects of the springs and were healed by the waters of the thermal baths. One of these personalities, Margareth, baroness of von Spaur, and others left funds for the celebration of masses in the Chapel of the Baths on the occasion of religious feasts so that all the ill people being cured at the thermal baths did not have to go all the way down to the Collegiate Church in San Candido for the religious services.

From 1600 to 1800 the thermal baths of San Candido were run by lay people who had rented them from the Benedictine monks. The documents of the rent registry prove that the thermal baths were kept as natural as possible. For this reason the place was called Wildbad, i.e. wild bath, to prove that the beneficial therapeutic effects were ascribable to the waters and not to the other cures and treatments.

The first chemical analyses and modern scientific tests on the waters of San Candido were carried out by Prof. Zehenter in 1869 at the University of Innsbruck. Documents in the imperial archives of Innsbruck show that the results of these analyses and tests "were beyond all expectations and that according to the honorable opinion of the Director of the Faculty of Medicine, Prof. Schaepfer, these waters were declared to have excellent qualities superior to all those of the other areas famous at the time."

In 1854 the area and the license were bought by Count Scheiber, a doctor of Hungarian origin, who built a hotel, the Grand Thermal Hotel Wildbad. It was enormous and the thermal baths became an extremely luxurious and modern place for those times. It was frequented by the high society of Central Europe and especially by the imperial families of Austria and Germany and their courts.

World War I saw the destruction of most part of the Hotel Wildbad. All that remains of it today are its ruins.

In 1947 professors Betti and Bonino of the University of Bologna carried out new chemical and physical analyses on the spring water of San Candido. They confirmed that both its composition and properties had remained unaltered over the centuries.

In 1962 Prof. Giovanni Malagó coordinated a series of studies that led in 1968 to the construction of the San Candido bottling facility and to the marketing of the Kaiserwasser and Lavaredo natural mineral waters.

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