San Pellegrino (in English)

San Pellegrino is one of the foremost brands of bottled sparkling water not only throughout Italy, but also throughout the world.  Since 1395, San Pellegrino Terme in the province of Bergamo (Lombardy) has been the source of the iconic waters that in the past were called “miraculous.”  Even Leonardo da Vinci visited the town in 1509 and later wrote a treatise on water.  Over the centuries, doctors recommended the waters for people with kidney, urinary tract and other diseases.

The journey of S. Pellegrino mineral water starts at 700 meters (2,300 feet) below the surface.  It flows from natural springs in the foothills of the Italian Alps.  It takes a total of 30 years to reach the surface.  This long journey makes the water naturally rich in mineral salts, calcium and magnesium.  When the water reaches the bottling plant in San Pellegrino Terme, it is not naturally carbonated.  At the beginning of the 20th century, carbon dioxide was added to prevent the development of bacteria, especially during long overseas travels.

The San Pellegrino company was founded in 1899, and the spa opened the following year.  Soon thereafter the Grand Hotel and the Casinò, two architectural gems that are still standing, were built on opposite sides of the river Brembo.  And so, the heyday of San Pellegrino Terme began.  The European bourgeoisie flocked to the town for fun and entertainment, to sample the water, and to mix with the aristocracy.  Guests at the hotel included Queen Margherita of Savoy, the family of the Tsar of Russia, an entourage of King Farouk of Egypt and, in the 1960s, Federico Fellini and Giulietta Massina.

Both the Casinò and the Grand Hotel, designed by architect Romolo Squadrelli, represent magnificent examples of Art Nouveau (or Belle-Epoque) style.  The Casinò presents an imposing, yet graceful façade; inside it features a grand lobby with a massive split staircase, columns and intricate statues and frescoes.  Gambling operations ceased in 1946, and today the structure hosts theatrical and other cultural events, wedding receptions, gala evenings, business conventions and exhibitions.  The Grand Hotel is a huge 7-story building with 250 rooms; both the façade and furnishings are lavish with statues, caryatids, deities and garlands.  However, the high cost to maintain and renovate the hotel forced it closure in 1979.  It still awaits a savior.

Both the 20th and 21st century have seen many changes to the company.  Machinery introduced and upgraded since the 1930s increased productivity.  Beginning with Aranciata (orange), new flavors have been introduced.  In 1997 the company Sanpellegrino was bought by Perrier Vittel, a division of the Swiss-based Nestlé.  However, the brand is still sourced and bottled at San Pellegrino Terme.  In fact, 50,000 bottles of water are produced every hour in the San Pellegrino plant, for a total of one million bottles a day, which includes sparkling water and flavored soft drinks.

A plastic version of the bottle was introduced in 2012, but the shape of both glass and plastic has remained the same since its origin in 1899.  The packaging has maintained the original references to the territory: On the neck is a representation of the Casinò with the date of the founding below.  The label has a white and blue watermark reminiscent of the Belle Epoque style.  And the red star was a symbol of high-quality products exported from Italy between the 1800s and the 1900s.

Different versions of the label have been created for collaborations, such as the recent one with Stanley Tucci, American actor and host of the CNN food and travel documentary titled Stanley Tucci: Searching for Italy. Tucci is featured in a commercial for the water brand that was filmed at the Casinò.  The company also issued a “Stan Pellegrino” gift box that includes autographed copies of the iconic water.

Construction is currently under way on the San Pellegrino Factory of the Future, which will be both a sourcing, preparation and bottling facility, as well as a visitor’s center.  The design features archways and glass for views of the gorgeous surroundings, including the Alps and the Brembo river.  The Danish designers, the Bjarke Ingels Group, said that they are seeking to create “a framework for the purity and clarity of the mineral water in an environment characterized by lightness, openness and transparency.”

This entry was posted in Alpe, Architecture, English, Foto, Italia, Lombardia, Storia. Bookmark the permalink.

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