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!