Pisa, Italy: A haven of wellness with ancient thermal baths, historic Italian villas and deliciously healthy cuisine


The terms of Pisa have long been the retreat of royalty and the famous, attracting kings, queens and a good number of romantic writers. Alexandra Fraser has gone to explore healing waters and discover what makes this quiet corner of the world the ultimate wellness destination.

Quietly located on the Tuscan coast, Pisa is best known for the sloping architecture of its city center. And yet, there is so much more to this Italian region than its main draw.

Inspired by salus by aquam (health through water), Pisa has a plethora of great estates built around healing thermal springs, many of which have been turned into wellness retreats.

With a singular focus on healing and wellness, Pisa is a fantastic escape from the rat race, where one can relax in the healing water during the day and enjoy delicious (and yet healthy) food on the evening, while being surrounded by an elegant story.

Where to stay to immerse yourself in history

Bagni Di Pisa is dripping with romance, sitting at the foot of rolling mountains with stunning views over Pisa. It is not surprising that such a place inspired Byron and Shelley to produce some of their most famous works; it is widely believed that Shelley Frankenstein was inspired by a doctor Andrea Vaccà Berlinghieri, whom she met in what is now called the “Shelley Lounge”.

The Shelley Lounge in Bagni di Pisa.

Once an 18th century castle, Bagni di Pisa gives a nod to its history and natural gifts while embracing all the comforts and luxuries of modern living. Ancient mud wraps put modern technological remedies aside on their treatment list, while natural sources that first drew royalty to build on the property at the center of everything from traditional thermal pools to inhaling water. medically beneficial vapor.

The “Equilibrium” approach is at the heart of everything Bagni Di Pisa does. Their treatments, rooms and menus are based on the basic principle of maintaining a happy and healthy lifestyle, in moderation. The philosophy revolves around the release of stress, exercise, nutrition and, of course, thermal water and its healing properties. Fortunately, it is also accompanied by a good dose of fine Italian red wine.

The rooms on the second floor (the first, which previously served as an entrance for horses and carriages, has been nicely transformed into the hotel reception and extends between the two thermal wings) remain roughly as they are. would have been in Shelley’s day, with beautiful boarded up ceilings, tiled floors, and sprawling beds.

The gallery that runs the length of the property has benefited from the addition of glass and leads to a magnificent hike up the hill to the Queen’s Tea Room, a colonnade with wide views over the city. .

Nightly rates in Bagni di Pisa start from € 150 (approx £ 137) per person per night in a Comfort room on a B&B basis. The rates also include Wi-Fi, access to the spa, thermal pools and fitness facilities. For more information or to book, please send an email to [email protected] Click here to visit the site.

Where to stay to immerse yourself in well-being

Grotta Giusti takes a practical, medicinal approach to curative therapies, all without compromising its beautiful surroundings and magnificent property.

The best example is their crown jewel; the largest underground cave in Europe, which lies under the property and is 130 million years old.

The natural “chambers” all stay at different temperatures, depending on their position in the cave. Walking around the “paradiso” is pleasantly warm and very beautiful. ‘Purgatorio’ can sound a bit cloying and once you’ve reached ‘hell’ sit back in a relaxing lounge chair and look no further.

Above ground, the hotel is a perfect and archetypal Italian country residence. The living room ceiling is beautifully painted and offers a wonderful place to rehydrate before dinner, after an afternoon in the thermal pools and the cave.

Nightly rates at Grotta Giusti start from € 144 (approx £ 132) per person per night in a Comfort room on a B&B basis. The rates also include wi-fi, access to the spa and fitness facilities. For more information or to book, please send an email to [email protected] VSclick here to visit the site.

Things to do

  • For the literary fanatics of our number, Bagni Di Pisa has concocted a ‘Time travel experience‘designed so that guests can truly delve into the roots of the author’s most famous work. The package includes a theatrical experience with actors playing the roles of Shelley and the Good Doctor, as well as a dinner with 19th century dishes.

  • Eat at the 5 star Dei Lorena restaurant; the delicate fish menu can only be beaten by the “Shelley” menu, a collection of perfectly cooked meat dishes that, in true Italian style, will make you cry “more” then quickly reach for the dessert spoon. The waiters promise the tiramisu is the best in the world, after trying it it can be hard to argue. Duck risotto with orange is life changing.
  • “In Italy, the wine is red”. Make sure to try the recommended wine to accompany your dish in both terms. After all, grapes are fruit.
  • Visit the Hammam dei Granduchi in Bagni Di Pisa, a small natural cave perfect for one or two people to relax in the warm water, listening to the sound of the natural waterfall flowing continuously.

The underground thermal lake of Grotta Giusti.

  • Take a cocktail class at Grotta Giusti’s Poeta Bar – try learning something that calls for a little finesse, like a pisco sour or a negroni.
  • Not for the faint of heart it is possible to go dive into the vast underwater tunnels which extend under the caves of the Grotto Giusti.
  • Hot yoga is all the rage in UK cities right now. Go back in time and try thermal yoga in the cave itself on Sunday mornings – a tonic start to the day, like any spa outing, it is important to hydrate afterwards.
  • If you’ve made it this far, you’ll be impressed that we’ve come this far without even mentioning the The Leaning Tower of Pisa. It truly is a wonder, started in the 12th century but not completed in 200 years, even its own website describes it as “a huge wedding cake tossed precariously by a giant clumsy guest.” Wonderful.

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