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Postcards - A Visit to Fonte Verde Spa
N. Winkel (aztraveler)
Relaxation Tuscan Style in San Casciano dei Bagni
Even at a slow travel pace, touring Tuscany can be a tiring experience. What better way to re-invigorate one's vacation than taking a break to visit the thermal pools. Twice now, we've enjoyed the warm Tuscan waters at Fonte Verde, a day spa and hotel in San Casciano dei Bagni in Southern Tuscany.
Before we visited for the day the first time, we drove there to check it out and see what it would be like. It was a short drive from our home base of Sarteano, over a windy road through the countryside. Upon arrival we were greeted by a very friendly staff at the front desk who spoke excellent English. One of the staff was actually there both times we visited, 18 months apart! They explained the various options, invited us to go to the pool area to look around and scheduled our appointment times on the way out.
Both visits (June and October) we chose the package advertised on the door. It included day-long access to the thermal pool (including bathrobe, slippers and a towel), one hour in the Bioaquam (more on that later) and one hour in the sauna/Turkish bath circuit (more on that later too!). In June 2004 the package was 45 euro, and in October 2005 it was 50 euro. They also have dozens of other spa treatments available, however we found the package quite relaxing in and of itself.
Both visits we spent about half a day at the pool, which was just right. We ate lunch before going and enjoyed a coffee from the snack bar in the afternoon. Afterward, we were hungry and enjoyed a nice hearty meal on the way home.
When you check in you receive your pool items and a locker key that can snap on to your swimsuit strap (if you want to keep it with you). There are changing areas in the locker room. All you'll need is your swimsuit, robe, towel, slippers and bag to tote everything around in. The rest of your belongings can be safely tucked into your locker.
The pool area has tables, chairs and chaise lounges (which must be reserved). The thermal pool itself is quite large. The water is wonderfully warm and soothing. You can actually feel the mineral qualities! Along one side are four funnels that shoot water out, which makes a nice back and neck massage. There is also a small indoor area if you want to get out of the sun for a bit. One relaxing trick is to put your feet on the edge of the pool and just let the rest of your body float.
The centerpiece of the pool is the waterfall. You can sit behind it for a surreal experience or under it for a massaging experience (be warned though that even though you can't see them, everyone out there can still see you through the water!) We enjoyed relaxing and swimming around for a while until it was our scheduled time for our other two spa experiences.
The waterfall, pool, and countryside beyond
The Bioaquam is fantastic. It is kind of like a giant Jacuzzi tub with different jet "stations". The water is the same thermal water from the pool. Various areas of the Bioaquam have jets to massage your back, arms and legs. You swim about at your leisure visiting whatever you like; just find the little black button at each station to start the jets. The best part though is the view. Set above the pool (which doesn't have an expansive view), the Bioaquam sports giant paneled windows and a passage to an outside area with more jets. The best though? An area with four stone "beds", all with neck and back jets. You can lay there being massaged with bubbles while looking over the gorgeous countryside.
After an hour in the Bioaquam, we headed to the sauna/Turkish bath circuit. There are three areas. The first is a hot plate room that looks like a small stone lined cave. We didn't find this room to be very relaxing. Then there is a traditional sauna, which is very hot! We stayed there only a short time. Our favorite of all is the Turkish Bath.
Prior to visiting Fonte Verde, we had never been in a Turkish Bath. What a fantastic invention! The bath itself is a small room, covered on all surfaces by beautiful blue and white mosaics made up of tiny tiles. There are benches and small fountains sprouting water, as well as a shower in the corner. The bath itself is a very warm and soothing steam bath. The small fountains serve two purposes. One is there are small bowls that you can fill with water and pour over yourself to cool off and two the water that runs off creates more steam.
Two refreshing options include standing under the shower set on cool water, then stepping back into the hot steam or going just outside the bath to a pool of very cold water with steps leading into it. A dunk and quick return to the Turkish bath feels fantastic.
When you've had enough of steaming, there is a relaxation room right outside, including chaise lounges, low light, soothing music and a fountain. They also serve a cleansing tea with a licorice flavor. Just sit back and relax.
After the Turkish Bath, we opted for another swim in the twilight. At one point, we were the only people left in the pool. We watched a beautiful sunset before heading inside to shower and get ready for dinner at our favorite restaurant in Sarteano. We left relaxed and ready to resume our Tuscan adventures!
Twilight view from the pool
www.fonteverdespa.com: Fonte Verde spa in San Casciano dei Bagni, Tuscany
© N. Winkel, 2005
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