Tuscany Journals

Spas in Tuscany

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A December 2001 trip to Tuscany by barbara

Beautiful Italy Photo, Tuscany, Italy More Photos
Quote: Tuscany is a beautiful land of rolling hills, rich foods, and friendly people. Healthcare is tied into the land; therefore the Italian government actually helps fund annual trips to thermal spas for its many citizens!

Spas in Tuscany

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Overview

Beautiful Italy Photo, Tuscany, Italy
Quote:
Tuscany is an absolutely beautiful section of Italy. Who could not be enchanted by the natural colors that paint the hills? The small towns and old churches? The exuberantly friendly Italians who serve wine like water as they enjoy your company over long, delcious meals? My mouth waters thinking about the pastas, polenta with porcini mushrooms, lamb chops, strong coffee and desserts.... Buon appetito!Find time to spend in ancient towns like Lucca. Wander the narrow streets of Montepulciano. By all means visit Florence. Go to at least one, genuine Italian spa. Eat Tuscan meals. Pour the Chianti and enjoy a slower pace of life. Quick Tips: Tuscany is a big area. Try to plan a trip...Read More

Grotta Giusti Terme Hotel

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Hotel

Grotta Giusti Terme Hotel Photo, Tuscany, Italy
Quote:
The hotel at the Grotta Giusti Terme was recently refurbished. All work on new suites should be complete a few months into 2002. The rooms are spacious with large and comfortable beds. The heavy drapes in my room opened to reveal a small balcony with a nice view of the front grounds. The color schemes are gold and green. Wood the color of walnut is found in the sizable closets. The suites are absolutely beautiful and exceptionally large. All of the expected ammenities are to be found: minibars, hairdryers, good-sized bathrooms with bidets, televisions in the large armoirs that include English CNN. A driving range, tennis court and pool are on the grounds. A golf course with r...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on December 17, 2001

Grotta Giusti Terme Hotel
Via Grotta Giusti 1411-51015 Monsummano Terme
Tuscany, Italy
0572/90771

Terme Di San Giuliano Hotel

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Hotel

Terme Di San Giuliano Hotel Photo, Tuscany, Italy
Quote:
The Terme Di San Giuliano Hotel is steeped in history. The building was first constructed for the Medicis. It later became the official residence of the Hapsburg Grand Dukes of Tuscany. Some of the rooms were converted into individual apartment houses to accomodate royal visitors. Mary Shelley wrote Frankenstein in the hotel. It''s worth noting, too, that the area has a very mild climate. In December, I saw oranges hanging on the trees, no frost withering the fruit. The hotel is nicely located for a several-days stay in the Pisa area of Tuscany. Pisa is so closeby, one could go for a short run to see the leaning tower. Lucca and Montecatini are nearby, too. The Mediterranean Sea is just past...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on December 17, 2001

Terme Di San Giuliano Hotel
Largo Shelley 18
Tuscany, Italy
39 050 818047

Hotel Moderno

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Hotel

Hotel Moderno Photo, Tuscany, Italy
Quote:
The Hotel Moderno is a comfortable establishment located within easy walking distance of several places to eat and shop. The rooms are sparsely decorated--no pictures, plain brown carpet with roses, white closets and walls--but the double bed upon which I slept felt like heaven after twenty hours of travel on a plane from the States. My window opened to a view of a large pool that the hotel keeps heated through October. The small television in my room provided several channels including CNN in English. There was a nice area downstairs by the lobby in which to sit and talk. The restaurant provided breakfast as well. The staff was very friendly though most did not speak English. The morning befor...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on December 16, 2001

Hotel Moderno
Viale Biaccelli, 10
Tuscany, Italy
0578/63754

Villa San Marco

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Hotel

Quote:
In 855 A.D., a church stood on the same ground as Villa San Marco today. By 1819 (after a long series of renovations, collapses, changed hands, etc...), the building had evolved into a bishop''s house. As the twentieth century unfolded, it was owned by one Professor Rachah who turned the premises into a trade school for orphans displaced by WWII. Finally, it was purchased by the San Marco Company for the purpose of providing lodging to weary travellers wanting to enjoy the beautiful hills of Tuscany. Renovation took more than nine years, but the result is a modern retreat with a medieval charm. There is evidence throughout Villa San Marco of its ancient history. The original foundation from t...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on December 18, 2001

Villa San Marco
Loc. San Marco, 13-56030
Tuscany, Italy
0587654054

Grand Hotel San Marco

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Hotel

Grand Hotel San Marco Photo, Tuscany, Italy
Quote:
The Grand Hotel San Marco has an imposing entrance. The tall, mustard yellow building has two lions on either side of the concrete stairs leading to the front door. The comfortable lobby is full of green and yellow striped furniture. To one side is a small restaurant with a large balcony onto which you may walk to enjoy views of the surrounding hills. The rooms are spacious and comfortable, decorated in the same golden yellow you see throughout the hotel''s motif. The bathrooms are full of carrara marble. Basic amenities such as hair dryer, TV with CNN, minibar, etc... are all available for use. Specials rates run during the hotel''s off season (winter). A main attraction to the hotel is the T...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on December 18, 2001

Grand Hotel San Marco
Via Lischi 65034
Tuscany, Italy
0587/64421

Ristorante La Grotta Montepulciano

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Restaurant

Ristorante La Grotta Montepulciano Photo, Tuscany, Italy
Quote:
I had lunch one bright and sunny afternoon at La Grotta after a wonderful walk in Montepulciano whet my appetite. The meals here are expensive but the food is exquisite. We began with an incredible spinach with sheep's cheese in a light crepe appetizer after toasting good health with proseco: Italian champagne. The main entree was a marinated flank steak so tender I cut it with my fork. Each dish tasted was wonderfully prepared, and Montepulciano wines accompanied the meal--including Aleatico, a sweet dessert wine served with the pear pie. The atmosphere was also very pleasing. The pale colored bricks and table cloths gave the rooms a light and airy feel. The bar is located at the front of...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on December 17, 2001

Ristorante La Grotta Montepulciano
Tempio di San Biagio
Tuscany, Italy
0578 757479

La Veranda Restaurant

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Restaurant

La Veranda Restaurant Photo, Tuscany, Italy
Quote:
The Veranda Restaurant at the Grotta Giusti Terme is a large room decorated in greens and pale butter yellow. Ink drawings of various Italian villages line the walls. There is a formal feel about the place--the chairs and curtains are made of green velvet--even though some of the menu is served buffet style on tables at the front of the restaurant. The service is quick and considerate though I did notice a resounding lack of background music that made the quiet atmosphere LOUD as I ate my dinner one evening and sipped my Le Rime Chardonnay. This is the type of restaurant that should have softly played piano to lend it an undercurrent of life and sound. Still, the menu offered something I had not ...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on December 17, 2001

La Veranda Restaurant
Within Grotta Giusti Terme
Tuscany, Italy
0572/90771

Ristorante Al Casale

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Restaurant

Quote:
The Ristorante Al Casale is an absolutely wonderful restaurant for good Tuscan fare. It is set in a beautiful building that looks like a welcoming villa: gray stone, arched windows, landscaped grounds.... The interior is warm and inviting with dark wood beams on the ceiling and cozy rooms full of tables covered in cloth. The menu is vast, filled with hearty Italian dishes that are served slowly with several bottles of Tuscan wine. The night I ate at the Ristorante Al Casale, I was with a large group of people including several wonderfully engaging Italians. Service began with a series of foods to sample: breads and cheeses and meat. These included a cured but raw sausage and various forms ...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on December 16, 2001

Ristorante Al Casale
Via Cavine e Valli, 36
Tuscany, Italy
0578 60501

Gran Caffe delle Terme

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Restaurant

Gran Caffe delle Terme Photo, Tuscany, Italy
Quote:
The Gran Caffe delle Terme was my favorite part of the Terme Di Casciana spa. Located within the spa's building, it is a narrow, high room, with a pale blue and yellow fresco on the ceiling. Bottles line one wall on dark wood shelves. The marble counter tops match the black and white tiles on the floor. Glass cases reveal baked goods like cookies and biscotti, biscuits and croissants customers may buy for breakfast. I enjoyed a small, toasted pannini with ham and a cappuccino late one morning after a visit to the spa. I sat at a small table and listened to the chatter of the Italians reading their papers and enjoying snacks around me. I bought Italian chocolate at the counter to take home to...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on December 18, 2001

Gran Caffe delle Terme
Terme Di Casciana
Tuscany, Italy
0587/644603

Villa San Marco Restaurant

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Restaurant

Quote:
The restaurant of the Villa San Marco is located in the historical section of the building. One may find pieces of the wall that are hundreds of years old as well as look through an area of the floor in a small dining room to see the remains of an ancient (and empty) crypt. In one dining room, salmon brick ceilings are beautifully arched with white columns lending support. Candles are in heavy, slanted holders on the walls of the main dining hall. The tables and chairs are made from a heavy and dark wood. Pale blue and white cloth lighten the room. When guests staying at the Villa San Marco first enter the dining area for dinner, they will first stop in a small room with a blazing fire lit in...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on December 18, 2001

Villa San Marco Restaurant
San Marco, 13-56030 Soaina
Tuscany, Italy
0587654054

Montepulciano (Medieval and Renaissance hill town)

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Attraction | "A Walk through Historic Montepulciano"

Montepulciano (Medieval and Renaissance hill town) Photo, Tuscany, Italy
Quote:
Montepulciano is an ancient city steeped in religious history. While there is some evidence of inhabitance as early as 319 B.C., the city did not reach its present-day size until the end of the 13th or 14th century. When I visited Montepulciano in 2001, my group parked in the Piazza Grande, which is the center of the city. The Palazzo Communale constructed between 1300 and 1400 and designed by architect Michelozzo is an imposing, blocky structure of heavy white-gray stone. It reminded me of a castle. Near this is the Cathedral built upon the old site of the church of Santa Maria, a church built in the 12th century. The Santa Maria bell tower still stands near the newer cathedral. I advise ta...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on December 17, 2001

Montepulciano (Medieval and Renaissance hill town)
City Center
Tuscany, Italy

Tempio di San Biagio

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Attraction

Tempio di San Biagio Photo, Tuscany, Italy
Quote:
This famous church is considered the masterpiece of architect Antonio da Sangallo il Vecchio. Construction was begun in 1518 and completed in 1533. It is Montepulciano's most famous structure, and it is a significant monument of the Italian Renaissance. It stands almost completely by itself away from the rest of the city, thus it seems elevated in stature and beauty. The interior is vast with an intricate and lovely high altar carved by Giannozzo and Lisandro, finished in 1584. Apparently two peasant girls witnessed the Madonna speaking here. There are other instances of religious miracles in the area, thus the church became a great place of pilgrimmage. The views surrounding the church are also...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on December 17, 2001

Tempio di San Biagio
Montepulciano
Tuscany, Italy

City Archaeological Museum of Thermal Waters Photo, Tuscany, Italy
Quote:
This small but delightful museum is worth a look if in Chianciano Terme. It is located in the old town center in a large, square building. Upon entering the museum in December 2001, I found a wonderful collection of paintings by a local Tuscan artist. The hills of the area were presented in different seasons. The collection was large and most enjoyable to see. I do not think the paintings I saw were part of the museum's permanent collection; however, I derived that the museum does show work like this often. Chianciano Terme is an ancient town. There is evidence that it was inhabited by people in prehistoric times. The museum's curator is also a university professor and extremely knowledgeab...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on December 17, 2001

City Archaeological Museum of Thermal Waters
Viale Dante
Tuscany, Italy

Terme Di Montecatini (Italian Spa)

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Story/Tip

Main Building of Spa Photo, Tuscany, Italy
Quote:
Montecatini Terme is a city of spas. With several springs flowing with four different types of healing waters, there are beautiful parks in the area to visit. We entered the tall iron gates of one that is normally closed for the winter. Apart from the groomed grounds, vast neoclassic columns support an amphitheater-like structure in which Italians gather from April-October to drink thermal spring waters for their health. Large paintings of cherubs and healthy men and women rise behind the faucets from which water is dispensed. I closed my eyes and could easily imagine the sounds of music from the live bands invited to play in the park in the warmer months. I know drinking of the waters is a lo...Read More

Grotta Giusti Terme (Italian Spa)

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Story/Tip

Grotta Giusti  Photo, Tuscany, Italy
Quote:
The Grotto Giusti Spa is a unique and luxurious place that has many features to please the more discriminating spa goer. Once the home of poet Giuseppe Guiusti in the 19th century, the villa in which the Grotta spa and hotel (see separate entry for accomodations review) are housed is rich and luxuriously furnished. Exercise is a must on the pretty grounds nestled in the hills of Tuscany. A golf driving range is available for guests, as well as tennis court and swimming pool. While still combining some healthcare aspects of Italian treatment into the center, relaxation is a prime objective of any Grotta Giusti visit. Just ask American actress Kirstie Alley who signed the guest book on the piano...Read More
Quote:
Despite the cold chill in the air, upon entry to Terme Jean Varraud, my group was met with much warmth and hospitality. Paolo Mazzei runs the spa, and we were shown around with the help of his English speaking daughter. The terme has a natural grotto within that gets as warm as 45 degrees Celcius. It looked much different from the grotto I experienced at Grotta Giusti. It was much smaller and more gray, the color of cool stone. There were wooden cots in a stone room for clients to lie on after treatment. Water from natural springs was evident everywhere. We were shown ancient baths thought to have once been used by the Romans that are in the process of being restored. We were shown a sectio...Read More

Terme Di San Giuliano (Italian Spa)

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Story/Tip

Place for a Facial Photo, Tuscany, Italy
Quote:
The charismatic spa director, Sergio Parenti, who wore a gray suit with a US lapel pin, blue-framed glasses, and had devilish sparkle in his brown eyes, showed us around his spa as he chain smoked on the grounds and told animated stories about the area's history in both Italian and English. His enthuisiasm was infectious. As in other Italian spas, Terme Di San Giuliano has a large medical center. The thermal waters are considered extremely beneficial for the treatment of a number of ailments. In fact, the spa was one of the most famous in Europe in the 1800s because of the medicinal uses of the spring waters and fango. It was in the Terme Di San Giuliano spa that I first experienced a Turkish ...Read More

Terme Di Casciana (Italian Spa)

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Story/Tip

Swimmer in Thermal Pool Photo, Tuscany, Italy
Quote:
At the Terme Di Casciana, our hostess, Miriam, reminded me of a spa director I might meet in Atlanta. She wore black from head-to-toe, trendy boots, and a belt studded with silver. A doctor from the clinic--smoking as all Italian spa directors seem to do--gave us a tour of the facilities that are open year round. As with other Italian spas, Terme Di Casciana concentrates on the medical well being of clients. There are several doctors on staff who assess client needs before prescribing assorted treatments. It was at Terme Di Casciana that I learned that the application of hot fango mud is most often used to treat rheumatism and arthritis, not skin ailments. I suffer from atopic dermatitis, and...Read More

A Walk Through Historic Lucca

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Story/Tip

View from a Tower Photo, Tuscany, Italy
Quote:
Inhabited since the Paleolithic Era, Lucca gets its name from the Ligurian Celts. The word "Luk" means "area of marshes." In the 3rd century B.C., the Romans made Lucca into a piazza, and it began to grow in stature from that point on. Surrounded by walls, the structure is Roman-medieval, and the city is well suited to explore via foot.When I wandered Lucca I first found The San Martino Cathedral, the largest and oldest church in town. It was first built in the 6th century--and rebuilt and changed several times over the course of hundreds of years. The entrance with its carved arches and huge doors is impossible to miss. Upon entry, the church is large, Gothic and wondrous. I found a modern ...Read More

A Word on Rome

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Story/Tip

Looked Over by Ancient Monuments Photo, Tuscany, Italy
Quote:
When planning to vacation in Tuscany, you might find yourself flying into Rome. Don't miss the opportunity to spend a day (or two or three or...) in this provocative and ancient city. It is completely different from the rolling countryside of Tuscany, but it is a powerful and beautiful place worthy of a visit. I did not have nearly enough time there, but I made sure to throw a coin in the Trevi Fountain with wishes to visit Rome again soon. If you want an inexpensive place to stay in Rome, check out the Hotel Italia near the Colosseum. This small hotel is within walking distance of the train station that will take you from the city back to the airport. It is located at Via Venezia, 18 (Via Na...Read More

Terme Di Montepulciano (Italian Spa)

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Story/Tip

Large Spa Photo, Tuscany, Italy
Quote:
The Terme Di Montepulciano is run by an absolutely delightful and expressive director named Dr. Rosanna Cresti Turchi. While she does not speak much English, her mannerisms and quick smiles make a wonderfully warm impression. Her spa is large and gives over 4,000 treatments to clients a day. Many of these treatments are healthcare related. Upon entering the Terme Di Montepulciano, I immediately saw an interesting mix between the types of health and wellness services you may get at the spa spelled out in the different types of things I saw in the lobby. To one side of the lobby there is a reception area that closely resembles those seen in American hospitals. To the other side of the lobby the...Read More

Terme Di Chianciano (Italian Spa)

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Story/Tip

Quote:
My first experience with an Italian spa was at the Terme Di Chianciano. It was an experience I won't soon forget. The spa building itself resembles an American hospital. You enter the big glass doors to a tiled lobby full of non-descript, blue furniture. There is a video playing on a television describing the healing powers of the springs upon which most spa services rely. Chianciano Terme is the best known for having springs that cure liver ailments. When it was time for my treatments, I was led to a brown and gray tiled room that had a metal table with paper on top. I felt like I was at the OB/GYN for all the warmth, but then I had to remember that Italian spas are much different from Amer...Read More

Example of Thermal Park (Montecatini)

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Story/Tip

Grand Setting to Drink Thermal Water Photo, Tuscany, Italy
Quote:
Pictures of park in Montecatini where people come to drink thermal waters. See full description in Montecatini Spa entry. Much of this park was built in the 1920s. It is alive with people at the height of the spa season in warmer months. I also visited a lovely thermal park in Chianciano.

Terme di Saturnia (Italian Spa)

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Story/Tip

Thermal Pool at Sunset Photo, Tuscany, Italy
Quote:
The Terme di Saturnia was by far the busiest spa I visited while in Italy. Despite on-going construction and renovation on the grounds (To be completed by Spring 2002--Golf Course in 2003), it is also one of the most luxurious spas in Tuscany. While waiting in the reception area for check-in, I watched a group of tall Italian men in fluffy white robes and Saturnia slippers gather around chatting. A friend in a suit walked through the front door, and the robed men erupted in loud sounds of enthuisiastic greeting, slapping the newcomer on the back, using Italian words so full and warm that I could hear fond emotion in their mere inflection. This group of men summed up the mood of most of t...Read More

Meeting Travel Writer, Tony Perrottet

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Story/Tip

Quote:
I first met Tony Perrottet (pronounced pear-o-tay) in the airport in Rome. Just off the plane from New York, he was wearing jeans and wire-rimmed glasses, wondering aloud if there was a cappuccino stand near baggage claim. His thin face broke into an easy smile when we shook hands. Tall with boyish good looks, he seemed to me to be a slightly older, Australian version of Hugh Grant, the kind of guy you automatically like, whether or not you've spent a lot of time with him. I quickly learned Perrottet hails from Sydney, lives in New York, is married to Les (Short for Lesley, but he pronounces it Liz, a main character in his book, ...Read More

The Book, Route 66 A.D.

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Story/Tip

Quote:
What would it be like to explore the Mediterranean like an ancient Roman tourist? Tony Perrottet wanted to find out, so he flew to Italy to start a personal "Grand Tour" of his own. Soon the modern tourist discovers he has a lot in common with the first leisure travelers of Rome. A keen desire to see the world, susceptibility to price gouging, frustration at inadequate accommodations, and an unexplained desire to buy the occasional chintzy souvenir along the Appian Way culminate in a marvelously entertaining travel memoir, Route 66 A.D., released by Random House in April, 20...Read More