Spa resorts in Italy
There are many natural hot springs in Italy, visited for reasons health and relaxation for hundreds of years. Nowadays many of these sites have developed full-scale resort facilities for a
relaxing holiday. If you prefer to go it alone though, there are quite a few spots where you can just turn up with a towel. Among the more adventurous options are the mud baths of Vulcano in the Aeolian Islands, where you simply pay an admission fee then dunk yourself in hot radioactive mud.
Visiting spas and hot springs (terme) is a popular leisure pastime in Italy, and it is the way that many people choose to spend a relaxing weekend break. As benessere - wellbeing - becomes big business in Italy, historic spas are upgrading their facilities, and luxury hotels compete to offer a spectrum of therapeutic treatments. From clay holes in the middle of fields, fed by natural hot springs, to luxury spa hotels offering every kind of
beauty treatment, Italy offers a full range of spa experiences.
Acqui Terme, on the Piemonte wine trail, dates back to Roman times and the Bollente, a hot sulphuric spring, is still a tourist attraction, along with the mud baths and mineral treatments on offer.
Abano Terme, close to Padua in the Veneto, is one of Italy's leading spa resorts. The hot springs in this small town - nearest budget airline destinations: Treviso, Venice, Verona - were recommended by the ancient Romans and these days a large number of hotels offer health and beauty treatments and their own thermal swimming pools.
There is also a ballet festival in the summer.
One of Italy's smartest spa leisure complexes can be found at Saturnia, in Tuscany. In the same region are Montecatini Terme, in the north of the region, and Chianciano Terme, a spa town set among pretty Tuscan scenery close to Siena and Montepulciano.
Close to Rome, in the Lazio region there are natural hot springs near Tivoli (at Bagni di Tivoli) and Viterbo as well as at the spa town of Fiuggi. The Terme dei Papi, at Viterbo, were known and used by the Etruscans and then the Romans, who built baths here. The name means 'thermal springs of the popes', since by Medieval times it was they who came to 'take the cure'.
Also around Viterbo are several open-air pools in the countryside, where locals drive at night
to strip off and relax in the hot waters.
German tourists, in particular, flock to the thermal springs of Ischia, an attractive island in the Campania region close to Naples. If you're looking to combine an enjoyable sightseeing holiday with spa relaxation, Ischia is one of the best places to choose.
Within easy reach of Naples, Capri and the Amalfi Coast, green and hilly Ischia has fine beaches as well as hot mineral springs. Some of the volcanic springs are radioactive; they're supposed to cure all sorts of ills.
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