Written by barbara on 16 Dec, 2001
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,…Read More
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 American spas. They play a major part in the Italian healthcare system. They aren't into aromatherapy, and the point is to heal, rather than just relax.
The attendant who entered my room with me--dressed head-to-toe in white--was all smiles. She did not speak much English, but she was able to communicate that she wanted me to undress. I looked around for the bathrobe, the towel, the sheet, the anything to protect my small town sense of girl-next-door modesty. All I came up with was a very small, very thin, very paper pair of "underwear" that I soon learned is the almost across-the-board spa uniform in Italy.
Well, what the hell. When in Tuscany....
After I climbed onto the metal table for my treatment, the very kind attendant seemed to understand that I was cold. She immediately got me a towel which I used as a blanket during the course of a mini-facial. Fango, a type of mud that has been soaked in special spring waters, was used to liven my skin. Upon rinsing, I was led to a bathtub with jets for a relaxing soak in thermal water to the tunes of none other than Tina Turner!
A tour of the spa afterwards and its many different types of treatment facilities was very educational. Thermal spring waters have been used for healing for thousands of years. The Terme Di Chianciano incorporates water into most treatments. We walked around the spa and were shown where part of a spring had been tapped by employees to move water back to the building. As we were walking I noticed a beautiful tree with orange fruit blossoming near the water. I don't know if the tree was benefitting from some special properties in the water or not, but it was bright and beautiful in the gray light of a winter afternoon.
When visiting Terme Di Chianciano, you must plan on going to a park to drink of the waters yourself. I visited Parco Acquasanta. While there is a heavy smell of sulphur at most parks and spas, the grounds here are quite lovely. People get prescriptions from their doctors to ingest a certain amount of the waters during a spa/park visit to help heal liver and gall bladder ailments. The water has a distinct taste that is difficult to describe, but a bottle of it costs less than two American dollars. There is also a small entrance fee to the park. I would highly suggest visiting one of these parks to taste the water and partake in a part of a centuries-old form of natural healing if you want to have the full spa experience in Italy.
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…Read More
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 there is a fully stocked bar where one may get a mixed drink, nuts, or coffee. The furniture in the room has a generic feel, but then there are glass cases in which jewelry and purses are displayed for shopping. I quickly learned there is a "wellness" section of the spa that has services more similar to those experienced in American spas and a "healthcare" section of the spa which treats clients in much the same way American hospitals treat patients.
On the day of my visit to Terme Di Montepulciano, I had a very nice massage in the wellness center. While the room was plainly decorated, there was a regular massage table available for my treatment. My attendant also spoke some English and was exceptionally accommodating. She was careful to use only sweet smelling creams that would not irritate my sensitive skin. The music playing through a speaker on the wall was soothing with some Enya thrown in.
One word of caution: Europeans in general are less modest than Americans about their bodies. While there was certainly more of an effort at this spa to have a sheet covering at least part of my body at most times than at others, hands came close to places that even my husband hasn't seen in a while! Nevertheless, I left the spa with my muscles much more relaxed than they had been before my arrival.
A friend also took advantage of water therapy offered at the spa in the large PT gym. She walked up and down partitioned rows of water--temperatures switching as she moved from section to section. This treatment is meant to increase circulation, and she said it left her feeling quite wonderful and invigorated.
While Americans might not use an Italian spa as much for health treatment while on vacation, others travelers might, so the huge medical facilities at Terme Di Montepulciano deserve mention.
I learned during my spa experience that thermal waters are used to cure many things. Sinus ailments are cleared up by sitting in booths that spray a thermal water mist into your face. Cubicles with equipment that resembles pulmonary function machines in the US are set up to deal with other respiratory problems. Rooms full of steam are available for group treatments though a doctor must decide whether or not a client must be isolated due to any contagions. There is even a special treatment available for asthmatics who can apply to have the state pay for a good portion of their stay at the spa. Clinics are open on Mondays to receive as many as 400 patients to have treatments prescribed by a team of doctors who work at the spa. The thermal spring water upon which most therapy is based is tested by the regional health department four times a year, but Terme Di Montepulciano is a privately owned business. It is closed to the public from November 15-January 15.
If you visit the Terme Di Montepulciano, be sure to walk around the beautiful grounds. They are full of cyprus trees and seemed quite peaceful the day of my visit.
Montepulciano is also a lovely town. You should not leave Tuscany without a trip to this beautiful place. And if you are in the area, and you want to see how Italian spas are different from American spas, I would highly suggest getting a treatment in this establishment's wellness center. I greatly enjoyed my massage.
Say hello to Rosanna for me!
Written by barbara on 19 Dec, 2001
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…Read More
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 Nazionale). Ride an old elevator to the second floor to check in. My single room was very narrow with a tiny bathroom and a giant water stain on one wall. My television did not work either. But my bed was comfortable. The room was clean. The location was good. A small breakfast was included. And my bill was less than $50 for the night. If you're on a budget, you're not going to do much better than this. One friend ended up in a double room which had a musty smell but was HUGE compared to the space in which I slept. Telephone is 06-4828355-4870919.
The entire day I spent in Rome was one of aimless but wonder-filled walking. I started out my self-directed tour with a friend moving toward the Pantheon. I loved walking through the busy sidewalks, the small mopeds zooming by like so many locusts on the streets. We wandered into an ancient church. We stopped by the International Pasta Museum. We stood back in wonder at the many relics of Roman civilization that seemed to just pop up out of no-where. We ate incrediable gelatto at a place very near the Pantheon called Della de Palma. I defy you to stop there and not fall in love with this Italian dessert. We shopped at the kiosks set up in the Piazza Navona where I bought the most wonderful Roman uniform for my son for Christmas. We ate lunch at a small cafe.
My friend and I parted ways, wanting to go in different directions.
I sat on a bench and marveled at everything around me in the Piazza Venezia. An Italian man who realized from the first word out of my mouth that I was an American asked me about my country, how everyone felt after September 11. Again and again I found great empathy from the Italians for the US on this trip in every city I visited. I was very touched by the concern demonstrated. I enjoyed chatting about world politics with my new friend until he directed me to the Roman Forum, no longer the epicenter of a vast empire, but still a place of visual power and grandeur.
I watched cats slink over fallen columns, wondering which was named Caesar, which were the senators lurking in the shadows. I wound my way around the Colosseum, past the Arch of Constantine, and back to my hotel room, breathless with all there was left to see and do in a place I'd have to leave too soon.
That evening I ate at a lovely Italian restaurant called Grappolo D'Oro (within a block or two of the Lush Italia--a great place to buy specialty soaps--on Via Dei Baullari). Then I was walking again, watching starlight twinkle on the domed ceiling of the Pantheon, looking in store windows of a city going to sleep, though I was too enchanted to join it....
Written by barbara on 18 Dec, 2001
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.…Read More
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 feature, however, that truly disturbed me.
I always light candles in Catholic churches for my grandmother. When I went to do this here, I was bemused by the "candles" I found near the altar. You put your money in the box. Then you screw a lightbulb "flame" to make your modern candle glow. Kills the whole romance of the Catholic faith for me....
There is also a side room in the church at which you may pay a small entry fee to see the tomb of a saint and Ilaria del Carretto's sarcophagus. An elderly Italian gentleman in a long gray coat and bowler-type hat explained Illaria Del Carretto was married to a very important citizen in Lucca hundreds of years ago. She was much loved, and when she died in childbirth, she was greatly mourned. The dog carved at her feet signified her great loyalty and fidelity as a wife. Her body is not in the tomb having been buried before the sarcophagus was carved.
Look for the Volto Santo or Holy Face in the main Cathedral, too. This wooden crucifix was said to have been carved by a friend of Jesus--so is Jesus' actual face. It has been carbon dated to the 1st century. (Thank you, Guide Dawn, for pointing out this important religious artifact that I almost missed!)
After leaving the Cathedral, I found it very pleasant to wander aimlessly down the narrow streets of Lucca. I do not know if it is true, but one of my friends told me that at one point in Lucca's history there was a contest among the aristocracy to build the most beautiful tower. Numerous towers are all over the city. I paid a small fee (L.6.000) and climbed to the top of one of them (Torre Guinigi) for a magnificent view of Lucca. Pale orange roofs stretched beneath me, squares of green from gardens fitted neatly into the patchwork of color in the city.
Walking around looking in shops and churches and museums worked up my appetite. I ate a capricciosa pizza full of pomodoro, mozarella, prosciuto, artichokes, and mushrooms, at the Fuori di Piazza--Via Fillungo, 39--telephone 0583467673. I wondered at first why there were so many teenagers---most smoking, in trendy outfits, with face piercings (Ahh, the rebellion of youth knows no nationality!)---until one of my friends pointed out that there was a high school nearby. A fat, red dog wandered in from the street as we were eating. Several people fed him. A girl explained to me as the dog licked sauce off my fingertips that the dog belonged to the city. The city took care of the dog.
At another point in my walk I detoured into Loggia dei Mercanti Cafe where I enjoyed a wonderful scoop of Niccolo Gelato (mocha flavored) and coffee. A friend ordered a pasta dish as well as a light rain sprinkled outside the window. We wondered why the coffee and gelato were so expensive until someone remembered Italians tack-on a service fee if you stay at a table.
If you shop in Lucca, you will notice a lot of the stores are high-end. This is a good place to find those leather, Italian shoes! IgoUgo Guide Dawn also wrote to me and told me about a wonderful antique market held in the Piazza S. Martino in Lucca on the 3rd weekend of each month. Lace tablecloths and other unique items can be found for bargain prices at this time. Guide Dawn said the last time she was in Lucca, she found a morning glory gramaphone in a wood case for just $108 US at this antique market. I wish I had been able to take advantage of the lace maker she said sometimes appears to sell his wares!
Whatever you choose to do, if you are in Tuscany, do take the time to explore this quaint and lovely town.
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…Read More
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 I was told the mud would actually aggravate this condition, dry my skin more. And, anyway, I was too young to truly benefit from an all-body fango application. Aches and pains are more apparent for people over 35, thus it is a treatment reserved more for this age group. Still, a special type of fango (like the kind used for a mask on my face at a different spa) is available for beauty uses in the wellness center.
I also noticed in the Terme Di Casciana's Turkish Bath (place where you go from steam to sauna to cold shower), the shower stalls had doors for privacy. The director told us when enjoying a Roman bath by yourself, clothing is not necessary. When with a group, however, bathing suits are worn. While my sense of modesty applauded at this policy, the most impressive feature of this spa is actually the outside thermal pool. The water in the pool is near body temperature and is naturally circulated through its underground source and filled each night with fresh water. With the pool, the spa actually uses 6,000,000 liters of fresh thermal water per day! One of my friends took a swim in the pool and enjoyed the warm waters and the pretty grounds around the area.
The morning I had treatments at Terme Di Casciana, however, I did not go swimming. Instead, I experienced hydrotherapy in a tub in a blue tiled room. First, I soaked in thermal water. I had been told the water had a brackish appearance because of the oxidation process that occurs when the water is exposed to the air. After a few minutes, an attendant used a hose to run a high pressure stream of water up and down my body.
By this point of my trip, a little bit of the European attitude about modesty had rubbed off on me for I no longer cared that I was almost completely naked barring the (tiny) paper underwear the spa provided for cover!
After the tub, I was taken into a small room and wrapped tightly with warm towels. I was told to close my eyes and relax. I started to drift off, listening to the beautiful Italian words to an unfamiliar song floating in over a speaker mounted on the wall--at least I was drifting off until the male singer switched from his native tongue to an English chorus.
"You've lit a fire under me. Suck my balls. Suck my balls."
Okay. Not the normal, spa mood music.
After all of this, I needed a drink in the spa's cafe!
The Gran Caffe delle Terme is located to one side of the spa's main building, and it is frequented by both spa visitors taking a break between treatments and people from the town. It is a charming and beautiful place for a snack, drink or cappuccino. See separate dining entry for details.
For more details about the spa, visit www.termedicasciana.it or e-mail email@example.com.
Written by barbara on 17 Dec, 2001
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…Read More
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 Bath.
Modesty is not the necessity in Europe. Nonetheless I was provided with a sheet for cover in the non-gender-specific Turkish Bath.
First, I went into a steam room where I sat with several other people--all men. There was a basin full of cold water in the middle. I poured water from this basin over my head periodically as my body temperature rose higher. After some time spent in this steam room, I switched to sitting in a stifling sauna. Sauna's are full of dry heat, thus this room felt completely different from the steam. The next step was to hop into one of two cold showers. This was a little tricky.
Did I mention Europeans aren't especially modest?
There were no doors on the shower stalls. Not being quite as bold as the naked Italian I saw in one stall, I wrapped my sheet extra tight and let the cool water run from the shower nozzle over me. I would have to say, this felt rather refreshing. The point of this treatment is to help poor circulation, and it can, supposedly, lower high blood pressure. It is also good for the skin.
After my Turkish Bath, I had a facial. A special type of fango--mud that has been soaked in thermal waters--was painted with a brush onto my face. While the room was private, chatter could be heard over the walls that did not reach the ceiling. The music of leaky pipes accompanied this experience. My attendant did not speak English, but we gestured back and forth to communicate. The mask was left for ten minutes to dry on my skin. It felt different from other masks that I experienced in Italy. It tingled as it dried. It went from a dark color to a light gray. It was supposed to have a hydrating effect. After it was removed, my spa companions said my skin was glowing.
If you visit the Terme Di San Giuliano spa, you will have an interesting but different experience from that bought in an American establishment. I'd suggest wearing a bathing suit in the Turkish Bath! The hotel also offers incredible rates for a night's stay with board. (See separate hotel entry.) The staff is very friendly. The area is lovely.
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…Read More
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 section of the wall near the grotto that contained bricks laid hundreds of years ago.
This place seems small and has a quaint feel about it. The same medical treatments that can be found at all Italian spas are readily available here. There are two doctors on staff along with fifteen other employees. The spa is closed in the winter, so I did not get a treatment at Terme Jean Varraud. However, I would have liked to have sat in the grotto and then experienced a massage in the "beauty" section of the facility.
While it was hard to picture the time when Bagni di Lucca was the center of spa-dom for much of the European aristocracy attracting famous writers, artists, and politicians, I liked the 2001 atmosphere I encountered: the black and white tiles on the floor, the welcoming bar in the lobby. It felt, well, uh, Italian to me.
Another attraction to this spa is the town of Bagni Di Lucca. The city itself is part of an old English community; therefore many residents speak English. A large portion of the spa's clientelle are English. The locals get treatments most often in the morning--tourists in the afternoon. There are lots of places to stay, small stores to shop and restaurants to enjoy good cuisine. There also interesting sites such as the Devil's Bridge sprinkled around the area.
The Devil's Bridge is a beautifully, multi-arched bridge spanning the river. Legend goes the devil made a deal with the architect. He helped with the building, ensuring that the bridge with its arches would stand. The deal was the first soul to cross the bridge would then belong to the devil. The architect sent across a dog which taught the devil to make more specific contracts!
To contact the Terme Jean Varraud call 0583 87221 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Spa's address is: 55021 Bagni di Lucca/Piazza S. Martino, 11. Website is www.bagnidilucca.it.
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…Read More
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.
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.…Read More
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 long-time tradition in Montecatini Terme. While most of the structure we visited was built in 1925, we found an entrance to the park that was erected in the 1700s.
The Termi Di Montecatini has an equally long history of treating the public. It is housed in several buildings, but in the slow winter months, only one of these buildings is open. I did not receive a treatment at the Montecatini Terme, but I did have a chance to look around.
On the top floors of the center are the medical facilities that I have learned are common to Italian spas. The average client who uses these facilities is 58 years old. The rooms look just like hospital rooms: medical equipment sits on sterile, metal tables.
The Wellness Floor of the spa is much different. The average client who comes to the spa for relaxation at Terme Di Montecatini is 30-35 years old. Approximately 60% of the clients are female; 40% are male. The treatment rooms have brightly colored tiles: aqua and white in the Turkish Baths. Tables are equipped with hydrotherapy devices: water will spray clients to massage away tension in the muscles. Different types of massages are readily had as well as facials and other, typical spa treatments. There are four major types of water used by this spa, all for different ailments. Rinfresco is the lightest water and is drunk to soothe the stomach. Visit www.termemontecatini.it for further details.
Written by Ozzy-Dave on 23 Mar, 2002
Travels in Tuscany – No Licence Required
By Dave Underwood
To drive or not to drive. That’s the question when planning a trip to Tuscany. How to visit those medieval villages and explore the vast landscape. Faced with this dilemma on a recent journey through Italy we…Read More
Travels in Tuscany – No Licence Required
By Dave Underwood
To drive or not to drive.
Florence is Tuscany’s largest and most famous city. Writers, painters, sculptors and architects conspired during the Medici reign to produce an awe-inspiring monument to the Renaissance – a living museum. Today it’s also the region’s road and rail network hub and an ideal base for exploring.
Relax to a plan, plan to relax
Despite the city’s size, its centre is compact, mostly traffic-free and a delight to explore. Dozens of pensiones offer cheap and authentic lodging, and conveniently located public transport options make visiting the countryside a breeze. You’ll have no trouble planning excursions from a wide range of publications available from helpful Tourist Offices.
Florence was our Tuscan headquarters for twelve unforgettable days. The city seduced us as we adopted bars and little trattorias as our own, made new friends, and feasted on a smorgasbord of cosmopolitan culture and art. We relaxed, under no pressure to move on or conform to sightseeing schedules.
Half the time was spent exploring the countryside. On these days we’d gather picnic supplies at the bustling Mercato Centrale, then cross the road to the bus or train station and choose our destination.
Both stations issue simple schedules and provide regular, comprehensive services throughout the region. Anywhere in Tuscany is accessible in less than two hours and you'll never pay more than US$15 for a return ticket. We didn’t have to drive, park, change accommodation, or join any tour groups. We didn’t even have to worry about how much luscious Chianti Classico we drank! And we did it at our own pace – independently, easily and cheaply.
This journal includes some of our favourite day trips from Florence. Each destination entry has been designed to provide a mix of facts and personal insights from our travel diaries, hopefully conjuring some sense of place – what it was like to visit these fascinating and beautiful places, that sort of thing. Hope you enjoy the journey. We sure did.
One last thing. This one’s for the avid planner. Here’s a transport summary for the trips in this journal.
DAY TRIPS FROM FLORENCE - A SUMMARY
SIENA by direct rapid bus. Around 20 services a day taking about 70 minutes. L24.000 return (12 euros/US$11).
SAN GIMIGNANO by bus via Poggibonsi. Around 20 services a day taking 80 minutes. L20.000 return.
VALLOMBROSA by bus. Around 8 services a day taking about 80 minutes. L10.000 return.
PISA by second class train. Around 20 services a day taking about one hour. L16.000 return.
GREVE-IN-CHIANTI by bus. More than 20 services a day taking less than one hour. L10.000 return.
FIESOLE by local bus (number 7), taking around 30 minutes. L3.500 return.