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Spa country - Monsummano Terme & Montecatini Terme

  • Spa country - Monsummano Terme & Montecatini Terme

    Pistoia Province is truly diverse, sandwiched between Lucca and Florence, which both make great day trips. Pistoia is bordered by spa country to the south and by mountain country to the north. As the rugged Apennines and the mountain resort of Abetone are a ninety-minute drive from Pistoia, it’s best to focus on sybaritic spa country.

    Monsummano Terme, just 18 km south-west of Pistoia, represents a twenty-minute drive to a day’s pampering in thermal waters. Monsummano is the birthplace of the poet Giuseppe Giusti (1809–50) and the site of a particularly wonderful spa, Grotta Giusti Spa Resort, where you can bathe in thermal pools or sweat it out in a bizarre steamy grotto in the grounds of a gorgeous villa. Grotta Giusti manages to combine gracious 19th-century living with superb pampering treatments, thermal pools and sprawling grounds. Book a day spa session, ideally including several treatments, and prepare to be amazed. This upmarket but individualistic spa won `World’s Best Thermal Grotto Spa’ in the latest World Spa Awards, along with `Best Medical Spa’.

    The spa’s strange-looking steamy grottoes were dubbed ‘the eighth wonder of the world’ by the operatic Giuseppe Verdi. Spa-goers don bizarre boiler-suits to follow the Dante-esque route into ‘Inferno’, where grottoes named Purgatory, Paradise and Hell induce a surreal detox. After sweating in Hell, there’s floating under the thermal jets in the giant pool, Ayurvedic massage or even a golf session. You might just want to linger over lunch or dinner in this splendid villa, especially as both the bar and restaurant have just been revamped. There’s also a lovely `Saturday evening in the spa’ session.

    Neighbouring Montecatini Terme, also south-west of Pistoia, is a twenty-five-minute drive away, and represents the grandest of the old-school Tuscan spa resorts, at least in architectural terms. The whole town is devoted to spa-going. Where Grotta Giusti has moved with the times in some respects, Montecatini remains a dowager resort, somewhat stuck in a time-warp. The resort was rebuilt by Grand Duke Leopold of Tuscany in the 18th century and has since become a company town. Endless avenues of spa buildings dispense health-giving waters to drink and offer treatments ranging from thermal baths and inhalation to the famous mud-baths. You can stroll through the magnificent parks, or sip the waters in marble pavilions – or, of course, you could contemplate a complete cure.

    For more on these spa towns, beyond the spa experience see our guide to Montecatini Terme.
    Address: Grotta Giusti Spa Resort, Via Grotta Giusti 1411, 51015 Monsummano Terme
    Tel: 0572 90771

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