The Bagni Misteriosi, Milan's most exclusive swimming pool-theatre, an oasis in the urban summer
26 August 2022
A redevelopment project faithful to the original spirit
"The swimming pool was the soul of this place and was crying out to find its unity again," declared Andrée Ruth Shammah, theatre director and artistic director of the redevelopment of the Mysterious Baths, but above all the soul of the Franco Parenti Theatre, a Milanese institution intimately connected to the Baths.
The block of which they are both a part, behind Porta Romana, was in fact already designed in the 1930s as a single multifunctional space in the purest rationalist style, with rooms for fencing, boxing, a doctor's surgery and a library. Reconnecting the activities of the theatre to those of the Baths was a way to restore this ancient link.
Thanks to crowdfunding and a creative call-to-action involving famous Milanese citizens and professionals, the Pier Lombardo Foundation, which manages these premises and the theatre, has redeveloped the 9,600 square metre open-air space by combining its functions with those of the indoor hall and bringing back to its original unity an architectural, historical and cultural public heritage that had been disassembled in the post-war period.
A solarium stage
The visionary renovation has fully preserved the pools, a listed monumental asset, which now boast crystal-clear, odourless and tasteless water thanks to the use of UV rays that preserve the balance of the skin, health and the environment.
In the centre of the large pool, which measures 50 metres by 25 metres and is up to 1.70 metres deep, is a movable wooden platform that is used as a solarium during the day and becomes a stage in the evening.
The smaller pool, measuring 25 by 25 metres, has a maximum depth of 90 centimetres and turns into an ice skating rink in winter. In the shade of the trees and among the rose bushes, a continuous wooden seat allows people to rest in the shade.
With the arrival of the warmer weather, the Foundation opens its doors and pools to all those who want to fight the city's heat with a refreshing dip in the pool or have a chat by the water's edge: through a system of reservations and differentiated tickets, it is possible to enjoy a memorable leisure experience in the pearl of Milan's pools.
An aperitif in flip-flops
From the changing rooms to the common areas, every detail is refined and functional.
In the city that invented the happy hour, it is the sophisticated bar and restaurant chain Gud Milano, which has locations in the city's most iconic spots, that runs the bar and restaurant, offering elegant, fresh and light recipes.
Accompanied by a decidedly cool and unobtrusive soundtrack, in the shade of the pergola and along the rose garden, you can enjoy a sumptuous aperitif by the pool, savouring the wide selection of classic and original cocktails and excellent wines, all wearing flip-flops, while waiting for the sunset to descend on this exclusive Milanese garden.
Scenic water shows
In summer, the Bagni Misteriosi also become a magical venue for live performances: dramatic, choreographic and children's shows are staged here every year.
The inimitable 'liquid stage' allows artists to construct their stories using the floating stage in the large pool and around the entire perimeter of the pool.
The originality of the stage has attracted the curiosity of both the public and the performers: it is no wonder that the best artists on the scene put on new productions here every year.
In addition to performances, the Bagni Misteriosi often serve as a venue for festivals, exhibitions, fashion shows and social events.
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Photo credits: Teatro Franco Parenti