Montecatini Terme - Italy
An early morning walk through the elegant Art Noveau streets and landscaped parks of Montecatini Terme, not far from Florence, will reveal the routine that visitors to the spa undertake for their internal health. Part of the ritual of the spa is to drink the waters from the prescribed source, early in the morning, and to take some gentle exercise in the vicinity of the spa. The sources are housed in the magnificent Terme Tettucio complete with shops and a dance hall, built in the 19th century.
It’s thought that the Romans knew about the waters and their benefits but it wasn’t’ until Ugolino Simoni, a famous physician, and founder of Italian hydrology, studied the properties of the springs. In the 18th century, the Grand Duke of Tuscany, Pietro Leopoldo, planned the first works for the canalization of the spring waters and the building of the spas for thermal treatments. By the beginning of the 19th century, when scientists started to accumulate knowledge about the waters, there were several buildings dedicated to thermal treatments, supported by new hotels, tourist facilities, the casino and other civic buildings. Thousands of visitors flocked to Montecatini Terme including the celebrities of the day, such as Verdi, and Puccini who composed part of La Boheme here. The slightly saline waters, which have three different strengths have varying effects on the intestines, stomach and liver, and are therefore used to treat a number of internal disorders. The waters are also used at the spa for mud treatments and thermal showers.
Visitors to Montecatini Terme can also take the funicular railway to the spectacular original hilltop town of Montecatini Alto (built when Montecatini Terme was just a muddy swamp), but no visit is complete without a tour of the star-studded pavements, commemorating legendary visitors especially the Italian and Hollywood film stars and directors, who made Montecatini fashionable in the 50s and 60s, such as Grace Kelly, Audrey Hepburn, Christian Dior , Totò and many of the kings and queens of Europe. Today Montecatini Terme is a great destination for young people, who enjoy the fine shopping, good food and lively night-life, as well as traditional spa visitors. Finally, don’t forget to take home a distinctive circular tin of Montecatini wafers – just delicious!