We’re already at the half of August: let’s face it, summer is almost over. How are you feeling? Are you relaxed and ready to start over?
Or maybe – just maybe – you feel almost more tired than before, with all this early awakenings to see the city and late night times to enjoy the parties, and all the random food and the walking and the biking…?
Maybe you might want to enjoy some extra relax time, and this time only true and pure sweet doing nothing?
Well, we know what is best for you: a day at the Terme. Italy is full of thermal stations, raw or super-accessorized SPAs, you just have to check out which suits you best!
Between Latium and Tuscany there’s plenty of wonderful thermal stations. Ancient Rome almost invented the modern SPAs: Mens sana in corpore sano, a strong body supports a strong mind. Let’s follow the roman traces so, and let’s check out where to recharge our body & mind.
First things first, though. The most famous of all Terme in Italy are the “Terme di Caracalla” and the “Terme di Diocleziano”, near Rome. Named after two emperors, the well known Diocleziano and the less popular (almost infamous, actually) Caracalla, these places are monuments and of course it’s not possible to bathe in it: but you can start from there and imagine the greatness of the empire, before leaving for an actual wellness center nearby. You will find plenty near Tivoli, Stigliano, and Rome itself.
Going a bit further, in the lands between Latium and Tuscany (the so-called Maremma) you’ll find some little treasure. All the zone is full of SPAs and thermal stations: the most famouse is near Grosseto, and it’s called “Saturnia”. They are more than just a resort center, all the town is infact conceived to be one! You don’t necessarily have to pay a ticket to bath, because you will find a pool just wandering a bit ’round. A pool, and a creek, and some cascades too! Why do they have this strange name?
“Saturnia” comes exactly from Saturn: the legend wants the ancient (roman, indeed) god to get upset by the continuous wars in mankind. So upset that, one day, the god of weather and the time – Jupiter’s father! – took his most powerful thunder and threw it down to Earth. Being Saturn the god of agriculture and richness of Earth, though, he did not destroy the whole land: from the cracks on the ground sprung the hot water, and… here we are!
Leaving Maremma you have two choices: you can go near the Siena area, in the countryside with all the winery and small stone towns and going to the center of Italy, or you can follow the Mar Tirreno coast and go north.
In the beautiful Val D’Orcia, near Siena, you’ll find plenty of thermal stations – we can say that all the place boils with sulfuric water down there: find one, relax and smell the peculiar perfume of boiled egg – so healty…
Don’t forget to pay a visit – it’s quick and small, I promise – to the beautiful borgo of Bagno Vignoni: a small town in the Siena area, literally surrounded by thermal water!
There are also a lot of free thermal spots around there – no buildings, no masseurs, no towels: just stones and water (be careful, it’s slippery!): just ask the locals… If you want to keep moving, you’ll find thermal stations also in the Arezzo/Perugia zone, between Tuscany and Umbria. The landscape is pretty different: from the gold of the straw fields and the elegance of the cypressus to the dark green of the oaks and the woods. Quite amazing, as well!
If you decided instead to follow the sea, you will arrive in the very heart of those who invented the “Terme”. Earlier on I mentioned Romans, saying that they were almost the parents of this wonderful baths, but the originals are right there, between Maremma and Versilia, and they are one of the most ancient and misterious civilization in Italy: the “Etruschi”. With their not-well deciphered alphabet, almost forgotten after the Roman Empire, the Etruschi found out that bathing in this stinky water was not that bad, and started to grow buildings around there, and proper stations.
Then the Romans gave order to everything, and it is not by chance that one of the most famous thermal stations there is called “Calidario”, near Venturina (Livorno): it evokes the 3 steps program in the ancient Rome. Bathing in warm water (calidarium), in medium water (tepidarium) and in cool water (frigidarium) was supposed to be the most tonifying cure for body and mind – and it actually is, considering that we are still doing that!
You can go further, up near the Appennini or the Alpi Apuane – behold the white marble in Carrara while bathing a bit more, pass the mountains and enjoy the Emilia-Romagna…
Then you’ll be relaxed enough to dive again in your work life – waiting for next year to come back!