A Sensational Spa Day

Today was a nice long, memorable day. And I’m gonna tell ya all about it while I chill out with my hot broth…

I had discovered a few weeks ago that one of the next towns over, Montecatini Terme, is famous for their thermal hot springs. The town has built up an entire tourist industry around spa treatments and I haven’t been able to get it out of my mind. Especially now that I have a cold.

Honestly, one of the things I truly miss the most is my deep Jacuzzi bathtub in my Hampton House and barely a day goes by that I don’t wish for a hot, hot bath.

So I had tried to book a trip to the spa with the tourist office, but the company they use is being screwy. They have been more trouble than they are worth to deal with so I finally told them to cancel it and I’ll take care of it myself. I sent an email to the spa, and within hours I had an appointment for a pedicure, a massage and directions to the other spa with the thermal pool. Hot dog! Steaming water, here I come!

Of course that meant taking the train again, but how hard can it be to go a few stops? So I checked the schedules, made explicit notes, and took off about 8:30 am this morning.

ImageFirst stop was another al taglio pizzeria I wanted to try. They have an onion bread that looks yummy and lots of cookies to choose from. But when I got there, it was still early and the only savory thing in the case was unrecognizable. When I asked, I was told it was ham, cheese and tomato between two layers of bread. Sounded good for the train.

ImageThis thing was thin as a pancake and quite tasty. I ate half on the train platform. And one of these cookies, which I thought were chocolate chip. They’re actually shortbread and a bit dry, but good enough.

It was a short trip to Montecatini Terme and I had a map, so I walked straight to the spa where the pool is. And since I didn’t get lost, I was an hour early! So I walked around and found a cafe for a cappuccino. My goodness, but the barista made me the most gorgeous cup o’ joe! The milk was perfectly foamy and then he sprinkled cocoa on top. I took it to an outside table and admired it before taking a sip!

Then it was back to the pool. There was a bit of a language barrier, but I muddled through and got in the pool. The water is about 90 degrees, which is warm but not hot, and it was delicious to sink down into. It was also very salty. And thankfully there weren’t many people there because the pool wasn’t all that big.

On one side of the pool were two giant faucets. You could paddle over and push a button and the water would come out of them like a fire-hose! It is hydro-therapy massage. You have to make an effort to stand under them due to the force, but it is terrific beating down on your neck and shoulders. I took a couple turns and loved it. But you are only allowed to stay in the pool for 1 hour because of the water temperature. So it was time to get a shower and go. I was pink as a rosebud and happily water-logged.

The Excelsior Spa was a couple blocks away and I was early again, so I found a place to get a glass of wine and eat the rest of my sandwich. And when I got back, they were ready for me.

ImageWhat a beautiful place! Very historic and this particular area of town was quite grand. It was nice to see because my impression of the town overall is that it is a bit shabby and dated. I was glad I was only there for the day.

But this spa has served some celebrity clientele – like the one and only Princess Grace in 1957…

Well, it was my turn to be princess for a day and I was looking forward to it. I do regularly get pedicures – my feet need pampering and attention. But the massage… well, I’ve had them before, but not so much, so I was a bit hesitant. This IS Europe…

Sure enough, I was shown to a very nice wooden cupboard (not a metal locker!) and given a key to it. Then I was handed a packet containing a big white terry robe, a pair of disposable slippers, and… disposable paper undies. Not granny undies. Thong undies. String things. Oh boy. Well, we won’t go into that too much, but we can safely say that Mrs. P has now had that experience and is still not a convert. She has always firmly believed that there are certain areas you do your best to keep things OUT of and she is once again convinced she is right.

Anyway, I shuffled out into the hall to meet Carmen, a thin girl with a firm handshake, wildly red hair and a husky voice. “We do massage first,” she said throatily. “OK,” I agreed. And we went to a darkened room with a massage table prepared. Before I could discreetly get on the table she held our her right arm and said “give me!” – meaning my robe. Well, that was that. Off it came. “Face up!” she commanded. Okey, dokey.

The little voice in my head just said roll with it so I did. And even though she did use a couple of large towels as drapes, it was not nearly so strategic as in the States. Much more casual with the exposure here. But no big deal – it was a wonderful massage for a whole hour. The music that played in the background was some sort of Indian-Oriental blend that was quite soothing. And by the end I was a fragrant oiled puddle of a thing. Fabulous.

Then we headed to a different room for the pedicure (which they all pronounce ped-i-curr) and to my surprise, Carmen was doing that as well. And let me tell you, this girl can work on feet!

I tried to explain how much my feet have hurt from walking in Italy and she examined them closely under a lighted magnifying mirror. “No problem with your feet,” she pronounced. “It’s your shoes.”

“But I bought special shoes for this trip,” I protested.

“You buy wrong shoes,” she insisted. The she crushed two of my toes on my left foot together in her hand and pushed in on the end of my middle toe. I about jumped out of the chair. “That’s how your shoes feel, no?” she asked.

Well, I was stunned. That is the EXACT pain I have in that foot when walking!

“Toe box on your shoe too narrow, ” said Carmen. “Crushing your toes. You need shoe with wider toe box.” And she hadn’t even seen my shoes, but I think she’s right.

For the next hour she seriously worked on my feet. I think she even did a bit of minor surgery. She had these special little knife blades she got out of paper packets and put in a holder. Then she would carefully trim areas that were rubbing where they shouldn’t. It really was amazing and it relieved a lot of pain and pressure. She suggested I ride a bike instead of walk so much – and I said oh no, that doesn’t work with my knees. Then she looked at my knees and said they aren’t helping my feet any, either. “No,” she said, “swimming is for you!” And I agree.

ImageFinally, when she was finished, she insisted I sit in the Solarium for a while and she would bring a cup of tea. It was another beautiful place with a wonderful view of a park below. And when she brought the steaming drink she handed it to me and said, “no sugar. remove toxins. you like.”

ImageWell, it was so enjoyable sitting there in robe and slippers with fresh new feet that I just had to sneak to the locker and get my camera. And when I did leave to walk back to the train station, I felt like I was walking on air – for a short time anyway.

Montecatini Terme was a bit prettier at dusk. It was a mild evening and lots of people were out walking in the glow of street and shop lights. I enjoyed making my way back to the train and was early enough to stop for one more glass of wine before heading home. I sat and watched people for a while and reflected on what a nice day it had been. Nothing like a swim in a thermal pool and a couple spa treatments to bring out one’s inner princess.

But then there was the train trip back…

3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. bdauby
    Nov 20, 2012 @ 22:04:17

    What a way to relax for a day – and your spa specialist certainly knew her stuff and did good work, have to admire that!

    You have a lot of creativity going on in Italy, I think I figured out how to capitalize: Paper Thong Origami Monkeys + Etsy Shop and/or Trader’s World. Think about that over your next caffe!

    Well hope the train ride back wasn’t too traumatic!


  2. Ellyn
    Nov 20, 2012 @ 22:54:34

    Of all the things you took pictures of, you didn’t get one of the paper thong panties! I MUST see them! But that’s okay. I googled it and saw some pics on ebay of a very attractive model wearing them. They were hideous. I don’t even want to imagine what they would look like on a normal person.

    Ugh. Too late. I’ll be bleaching my brain if anyone needs me…


    • Paula!
      Nov 21, 2012 @ 15:34:18

      I’ll take your word for it Ellyn! Brain bleaching!!!? That’s a new one! That was a beautiful building and sounds like the treatments were as well. Oh you are still hilarious! Okie dokie is what I’d say if I had to roll over with a paper thong (of all things). But your feet did look very pretty! What a day well, worth the trip and euros, I’m sure! On to the next blog!


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