Destination: Tuscany

By Mary Bemis / September 12, 2011

“Go to the sea, watch the waves. Go alone, just you and nobody else.” So advises the good doctor who is giving me a lecture on balance and wellbeing. After a serious consultation, he has given my lifestyle habits his stamp of approval, and says, with some surprise, that although I live in New York City, he finds me to be a very balanced person. But living in the city equals stress, and he is suggesting that in order to remain mentally fit and stress-free, I should take the train every so often to the sea. He suggests Montauk.

But neither I, nor Dr. Thomas Platzer, are in New York. We are in Tuscany, where I have traveled to try out the new Balance Program at Adler Thermae Spa Resort where Platzer is the resident physician. An elegant and ideal blend of traditional thermal spa and modern resort, the 90-room property is one of the best European spas I’ve experienced. To put it simply, Adler Thermae has it all: the waters, the air, the spa treatments and fitness options, the cuisine and wine, the culture and history—and an immense natural beauty and quietude capable of calming even the most harried.

Located in the Orcia Valley, in the impossibly romantic and dreamlike province of Siena, Adler Thermae is especially popular with couples who come seeking weekend respite from Rome, a two-hour drive away. The Orcia Valley, deemed a World Heritage site in 2004, has for centuries attracted the Etruscans, Romans, and Italian nobility who traveled to this region to take the waters, the wine, and to revel in the countryside. The spa resort is a short and scenic walk to the main square of Bagno Vignoni, a medieval village with thermal pools that date back to Roman times.

The waters here reign. I spent the majority of my four-day visit serenely moving from one bath and sauna experience to the next. I loved the large indoor/outdoor thermal pool where I lost myself in the beauty of the surrounding Tuscan hills—visible from every direction. This thermal pool, fed from the springs of Bagno Vignoni, is the heart of the property with healing water that bubbles out at 125 degrees Fahrenheit from the earth. Rich in calcium, magnesium, sulphate, and bicarbonate, it is especially good for bones and joints.

I also enjoyed the Artemisia, or herbal steam room, that is centrally heated with herbs and stones to aid in relaxation, and spent a brief time in the comfortably cool Grotto del Filosofo, or the Philosopher’s Cave. An actual grotto, I felt I had gone back in time when I sat underneath the stalactites and stalagmites. This cave is where you’ll find the entrance to the Turkish Bath. I did some of my best detoxifying in the beautifully designed Olivae, a Finnish sauna made of olive wood and terracotta. The Salino, an Etruscan bath with steam salt, helped to purify and cleanse my skin, but one of my favorite spots of all was the Grotta Salina, the underground salt bath. I experienced this at night, and floated and soaked alone in the immense cave.

My stay also included some very good spa treatments: a Vital Age massage; a Milk and Honey body wrap; and the Excellence Anti-Aging facial, using Adler Spa Bio Cosmetics, the spa’s signature organic line. This new line is made with ingredients from the surrounding countryside, and my moisturizing facial included an ingredient called “phyto-melatonin” that is derived from mountain plants. There is a breadth of interesting spa options to choose from, from classic beauty to alternative therapies, and the Ayurvedic options here are very popular with guests, as well.

The relaxation area, spread out over two floors, has lovely lake views, a silent area, and waterbeds that envelope. Actually, the entire resort envelopes you in the most comforting way. Perhaps Anton Pichler, the gracious general manager, explained it best. At tea one day, we were discussing the design and flow of the property. “It’s designed in a ‘U’ shape,” he said. “It sort of hugs you.”

Mary Bemis
Mary Bemis

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