While ‘taking the waters’ has long been a tradition in Europe, it can be a somewhat unusual (albeit it fabulous) experience for most Australians. Even if you have enjoyed the hot springs in New Zealand, they don’t really prepare you for a European spa holiday. If you are heading to Tuscany, one of the world’s most famous spa regions, the following tips will help you feel right at home even if it is your very first European spa holiday. Here are my top five tips for how to spa in Tuscany.
Free spas in Tuscany
Beautiful Tuscan spa hotels like Terme di Saturnia Resort abound – and you should definitely try at least one – but there is no need to pay for an authentic spa experience. When you spot cars and campervans parked in a seemingly random spot there will almost certainly be a natural thermal spring nearby. Top picks include the cascading pools of Le Cascate del Mulino and Le Cascate del Gorello around the spa town of Saturnia where the water is a constant 37.5 degrees Celsius.
Drinks plenty of water in Tuscany
Remember to drink plenty of water and stay hydrated as the thermal waters are hot, hot, hot. Bring your own large bottle if you are visiting one of the natural spas as there might not be anywhere within walking distance to buy a drink.
How to spa in Tuscany
Most spa hotels have a dazzling array of pools to choose from. There are narrow steaming channels you can walk through while holding onto a railing, waterfalls that pummel your shoulders and deep thermal pools that are ideal for floating and looking at the stars. While it might look like the Europeans are following a set pattern when they use the pools, often with a very serious expression, there is no ‘right’ way to take the waters. Don’t feel compelled to follow their lead, just choose the pools that feel right for you. While many of Tuscany’s fancy spa hotels don’t look like the kind of places that cater for children, your kids will receive a typically warm Italian welcome here. Some spa hotels even have cute kiddie-sized spa robes and slippers.
Tuscany with children
However, one thing is important if you are taking your kids to a Tuscan spa hotel. Check the pool rules before you book as some pools are considered too deep (or, in some cases, too hot) for children to use safely. While your hotel will almost certainly have a pool area allocated to children and/or families, confining an Aussie kid who is a strong swimmer to the ‘babies area’ is unlikely to go down well. If you are travelling with under tens, Fonteverde Natural Spa Resort, half-way between Florence and Rome has some shallow pools that are suitable for all ages as well as a lovely kiddie spa pool for toddlers. It’s quite upmarket but still family friendly.
Tuscany spa tip
Even though it can be tempting to soak in Tuscany’s thermal springs for ages because they feel so good, you should limit your time to 20 minutes, especially when you are just starting out. The water is hotter than it seems and often makes people feel lightheaded, especially when they leave the pools. Enjoy a lovely 20 minute soak then get out, take a break, and hop back in again to achieve the maximum benefit and leave feeling great.
Disclosure: The writer was hosted at the above hotels. She paid for everything else or got it from Mother Nature for free.
If you are passing through Rome while you’re in Italy and looking for things to do, we enjoyed touring the Colosseum and also our food tours around Campo di Fiore and Trasevere. If you want something a little different, check out these Rome hidden secrets.