Wednesday, August 8, 2012

A Tuscan thermal spa just a train ride from Florence

Grotta Giusti was discovered by chance in the mid 1800’s while miners were digging on the grounds where today stands a prized resort in the Tuscan countryside.  The spa is only a 45 minute train ride from the Florence city center station.  One or two days here is a relaxing vacation treat after a long plane ride or busy city tour.

The Giusti family is related to the Italian patriotic poet Giuseppe Giusti who was considered a genius noting his poem called La Ghigliottina (the guillotine) that established him in literary circles. "The eighth wonder of the world", it was referred to by Giuseppe Verdi during his frequent visits to the thermal spas. 

Because of wanting to preserve it in its natural state the grounds were maintained with the grotto and mineral waters along with the stalactites and stalagmites in a vision shared by the family to market natural healing and longevity.  There is no real need to have to rent a car in this town unless you want to explore Lucca or the ski town of Pistoia that hosts an annual Blues festival. The town is small enough to walk around in a couple of hours and there are several good restaurants including a fancy hotel spa restaurant with a bar and tearoom.

Grotta Giusti waters contain healing minerals of bicarbonate, sulphate, chloride, magnesium and calcium with temperatures ranging from 34-35°C. There are three levels or so called zones to visit during your stay that are suitably called "Paradise", "Purgatory" (Limbo), and "Hell". The humidity in the air serves as the strongest healing property in the grotto besides the heat. Common ailments can be treated here including degenerative arthritis, chronic rheumatism, gout, bronchitis and inflammatory diseases of the upper and lower respiratory tract, even if caused by allergy, diseases of the skin (chronic eczema, sebaceous dermatitis, psoriasis). 

In addition to the healing waters and grotto is a menu of healing treats that include nutrition consultation, Asian massage disciplines, face and body treatments, and skin care products. There is also a walking trail, gym with equipment, tennis court, outdoor swimming pool with 750 square meters of thermal water, waterfalls, massage pressure showers, and underwater hydro-massages.  An 18 hole golf course is just a few kilometers away. As Giuseppe Giusti believed it is truly a natural wonder being right in the heart of Italy where a traveler can go to enjoy the Italian life like the locals.

Tours available tailored to your travel needs by Hither & Thither Adventures

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Italy in Summer and flowers!

Italy in Summer (click for more photos)

Mopheads (Hydrangea macrophylla)

Hydrangeas are the Italian flowers that besides the sunflower have been widely photographed for travel memories, wedding planning, festivals, botany, and more. Used often in bouquets they are as versatile as roses and other locally grown Italian flowers. You'll find them next to a garden trellis, down a meandering path, in flower boxes and centerpieces. Hotels, restaurants, estates and spas have them in gardens growing heartily. If you love hydrangeas there is even an Italian Hydrangea festival in late June every year that takes place in Bolsena, Italy. Another city on the bucket list!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Assisi Firenze, Roma, Naples & Sorrento - May/June 2012 Slideshow | TripAdvisor™

Assisi Firenze, Roma, Naples & Sorrento - May/June 2012 Slideshow | TripAdvisor™: TripAdvisor™ TripWow ★ Assisi Firenze, Roma, Naples & Sorrento - May/June 2012 Slideshow Slideshow ★ to Assisi, Madrid and Rome. Stunning free travel slideshows on TripAdvisor

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Italy for the love of summer frills

Italian market - tomato varieties

There are places in Italy that have small town charm ever inviting travelers back with memorable warm hospitality. This is a guaranteed travel frill that can not be found in a brochure or redesigned any time of year. And then there are the tomatoes that have been the thread of Italian culture and cuisine forever. Once when travel was less cumbersome you could bring back a tomato with the vine attached. You could even pick a token of fennel growing wild on the side of the road where the cows wandered outside of their pasture. The Mama Leone Italian tomato is as authentic as it gets. A great tomato used mostly for fresh summer sauces and making paste for the rest of the year. It is an heirloom tomato that was brought from Italy to New York. With this recipe below you can create a popular Tuscan salad known for its use of tomatoes.  
Panzanella*, is a Tuscan salad combining oil, basil, vinegar, tomatoes, cucumber, minced onion, and stale Italian bread soaked in water, then squeezed dry. Mamma mia!
*Italian, from pane ‘bread’ + zanella ‘small basket’

Monday, March 12, 2012

The Famous "Oyster Bar"

If you are looking for a place with some famous Big Apple history, rustic ambiance and reasonable seafood prices this is definitely one to add to a day tour of NYC. Established in 1959 and run by the same family since day one when its doors opened. Here you will find yourself hanging with the locals in true NYC fashion.

The selection of oysters here is impressive. If you like surf and turf they have it! A lobster dinner promo was $28.95 in March during the weekend of the New York Times Travel Show.

I spotted this restaurant relic in its own right on my way back from MOMA about 10 minutes away. If you want a great museum to check out on a city trek be sure to stop here. The Google Art Project is featured on their website where you can create a virtual album of your own favorites from museums around the world.

Happy travels!

Oyster Bar 
842 7th Ave
New York, NY 10019
Neighborhood: Midtown West
Phone: (212) 586-6525
Serves Lunch and Dinner

by Thither