Fantastic journey: we have left the City of Consumption but are squarely within it. We have emerged above the City of Italian Pop Music, alive in the Montecatini Terme evenings with screaming voices and the loud and obnoxious cure for idle hands: toy boxes bulging with Tinny Things to Bang On Like a Madman.
Inside the compound, the lush vibrations from a violin envelop us like a cocoon.
We are clearly in the City of Shuffling Gray-hairs, glass mugs tightly clasped in bony fingers, held occasionally under the glass spigots from which flow the warm and sulfurous waters doctors have proscribed.
As we settle in, a man at the next table removes papers from a manila envelope and we can see the steady beat of his heart graphed in blue.
Tables and chairs are very neatly arranged. Later they will be scattered. Trees have been pruned to look like column drums. For shade. Not many computers; the man in front of us reads from a book—loudly. In the background a workman wrestling with a huge hose sends a backlit plume of water over the lawn around the marble statues.
RAI television cameras are here, resting on the lawn while a blonde, spaghetti-legged ragazza is getting greased up and her eyes charcoaled. They must not like her much. Perhaps she is too beautiful for them in her natural state.
The quest for Miss Italia is being held here.
Terme Tettuccio, an anachronism in Liberty style. Participatory time travel: 14 Euros a day. Thus paid, you become not a tourist gawking at the past but a participant in it. Money well spent.
Sniff the waters. There are four: Rinfresco, Leopoldina, Regina, Tettuccio. Of these, Leopoldina is the most vile; stinking of sulfur, warm and salty. No wonder it works its magic on the bowels. It is at one with them.
All the waters are diuretic. The number of toilets is amazing. There is a small City of Toilets.
Does it all work, you might ask? The National Health Service thinks so; it pays for treatments.
You should go when you have a chance: Taking the waters in Mantecatini Terme