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 in one of the many sitting rooms, giving great thanks to the spa's director, Anna Benedetti.
Next to good service, the spa is probably the most famous for its natural, underground grotto. Discovered in 1849, this unique cave provides visitors with a natural steam bath. When I first walked down to the grotto, I did not know what to expect. To be honest, I felt a little like I was visiting a surreal attraction at Disney World. I followed my friends, all in matching robes and white burlap-like gowns, down, down, down until we found a tall Italian attendant sitting in a chair waiting for us like Charon on the River Styx. With gestures he had us remove our robes and hang them on a metal rod. Then we were free to wander the grotto, albeit quietly.
I let my fingers run across the rock walls with naturally swirling patterns and damp surfaces. I walked up to Paradiso where the stalactites and stalagmites were colored a light shade of beige. Finding no singing angels, however, it was time to take the steep walk down to the Lago del Limbo where I could see a blue-green body of water beneath me. The final stop in the grotto is the Inferno, the warmest section, where the walls are a deeper yellow tinged softly orange and red. The high humidity (98%)was immeidiately evident as I took a seat on one of the plastic chairs and wiped dripping water from my forehead. Then it was a matter of letting the naturally occuring minerals in the 34 degree Celcius air make me as relaxed as the Italian gentleman I saw, so sprawled out where he sat that his missing underwear was readily apparent.
This steam treatment is supposed to be wonderful for people who suffer with ailments such as arthritis and rheumatism, and I will say it proved to be relaxing.
After remaining underground for approximately forty minutes, it was time to get a new gown from the silent keeper of the grotto so as to resurface to the main section of the spa.
Here my experience at Grotta Giusti got a little touchy. It was time for the hydromassage. Well, let me tell you, I wasn't quite ready for the experience. I was escorted into a plain, concrete room where I undressed. I then stood up against a wall as a rather bored looking attendant sprayed my back down with water from a hose! The idea of this form of hydrotherapy is to increase circulation with the water after time spent in the grotto, as well as to work the tension out of muscles with the pressure from the water spray. But, horror of horrors. As I was just thinking up a pitch to introduce this as a new attraction at San Fran's Alcatraz, the attendant asked me to turn around so she could spray my front, too! Well... Hmmm... This was just too much for me. I found my robe as quickly as possible and exited the room where I found a friend who had just had the same treatment standing around in the hallway. She liked hydrotherapy. Me? Not so much.
More to my liking was a traditional massage. The Grotta Giusti offers Shiatsu and relaxation massage. Rooms are private and my attendant did a wonderful job working out all the stress I had somehow picked up during my "relaxing" water treatment! This service was wonderful, and I felt relaxed and invigorated after leaving the room.
Many other services are also available at this spa. I also had the pleasure of getting a facial. Hydrating milk, then tonic, acidic cream (for acne), PH balancer, Fleur Termale (tonic with nutrients), fruit mask and cold mud mask were all applied at different stages to my skin, mixed-in with a series of facial massages to relieve tension.
All-in-all, my experience in the spa of Grotta Giusti was a positive one, and I would readily recommend it to a weary traveller looking for some respite in Europe.