Imagine yourself in gentler times, a glass in your hand, a stringed quartet playing as you stroll through a forest of columns. Imagine the tension gently ebbing from your body as you sip the water in your glass, a glass full of promises to enhance your well-being. You're likely enjoying Terme Tettuccio, just one of the spas in Montecatini Terme in the heart of northern Tuscany, between Lucca and Florence. The healing waters that gush from the earth in Montecatini are drunk, soaked in, and talked about all around town.
I should remind you that spa vacations in Italy aren't just for the rich and famous, despite what you may have picked up from those old Italian black and white movies. For years Italian corporations sent their employees to spas like those found in Montecatini Terme for relaxation, revitalization and even for some health issues.
Yet the elegance of Montecatini shows in every spa, another reason you might think all of this is going to break your budget. Rest assured that what delights your eyes is a democratic elegance, made for the people. There are many, many hotels in Montecatini--and the competition drives prices down, especially in the off and shoulder seasons. There's a train station in Montecatini, so you don't even need a car.
Our Montecatini Terme map shows the best hotels, spas and attractions in Montecatini Terme. You might have to zoom in to the map using the controls on the upper left to see the markers separately. Click or tap the map markers to see what they represent. You'll notice that the area of spas like Tettucio are inside a park where natural, mineral spring waters rise to the surface. The park is laced with strolling trails, as you can see on the map. Relaxing in nature is all a part of the cures the spas promote.
It's not just the waters that make Montecatini one of the best spa towns in Italy, it's the city planning that made it all very accessible. As you can see from the map, the autostrada and rail access is superb.
Essentially, the rivers and springs are underground in Montecatini, surfacing in what's now a park in which the spas marked on the map are built. These spring fed waters have been known since at least Etruscan times for their curative powers--and modern science proves them correct.
Recommended Places to Stay and Eat in Montecatini Terme
There are over 40,000 beds available in Montecatini Terme, so prices are moderated by the ample supply. Try searching for a hotel with our booking box, or try the hotels below; they're highly recommended.
Grand Hotel & La Pace Spa is one of the oldest and most prestigious hotels in Montecatini Terme, a five star hotel with spa facilities inside (It was the first European hotel in 1975 to have spa facilities). You'll enjoy the Liberty architecture (Italy's Art Nouveau) in the common rooms. The spa offers many treatments for both health and beauty. For romantics, there's "Un Amore de Spa", which offers a couple's suite in the spa with hot tub containing therapeutic water, and an aromatic massage for two. It's all a splurge, but take your honey there, ok?
Grand Hotel Tettucio is a top-rated four star hotel named after the spring and spa called "Tettucio". It's a four star hotel, but prices are usually quite reasonable for a place close to the spas.
Parma e Oriente Hotel is the three star budget choice, very highly rated by visitors--and centrally located near the spas.
Of course, with all this luxury, you might want to compliment it by staying in a villa or apartment in Montecatini Terme:
There are lots of restaurants in Montecatini Terme. We liked Osteria di Poneta for its evocative interior, fresh pasta, and fine ingredients from their farm in Chianti.
Top Montecatini Spas and Sights
Tettuccio Spa - in my mind the top spa in Montecatini Terme in terms of its lavish architecture. You've got to see it to believe it. Tettuccio Spa is essentially about drinking the waters and relaxing to relieve stress.
Easy to access, the spa offers fountains spewing all of the waters of Montecatini's 4 springs--Leopoldina, Regina, Tettuccio, and Rinfresco--plus lots of free therapies while you're there: shopping therapy (yes, shopping is said to increase Serotonin among women--and, unfortunately, adrenaline among men...), there's live music playing all day (music therapy). Guests are advised to stroll the lush grounds after partaking of the waters.
Tettuccio is a classic spa. You pay a day rate (15 euro per day at time of writing) and use the facilities and drink the waters, each of which have different health properties. No messages, baths, or beauty treatments. An onsite doctor can tailor a program for you if you have a specific health issue which might be treated by drinking the waters. Here is a list of what the waters can do.
Excelsior Spa has a variety of health and beauty treatments available. Terme Excelsior was once a casino. On the ground floor, there is a large hall for hydroponic therapies; at the first floor you'll find the Wellness Centre and the other two floors house the equipment for mud, bath and inhalation treatments.
Terme Leopoldine is currently undergoing a massive restoration and remodel, and will be open "soon" according to the literature.
Terme Redi has lots of very modern equipment for various physical therapies; you'll find 66 rooms for mud and bath treatments, hydro-massages, ozonated bath therapy, masso-therapy and physiotherapy.
Montecatini Alto - The original hilltop Montecatini, which you can reach by a funky 1898 funicular from the station near the spas. Lots of restaurants and cafes in Piazza Giusti. This is the historic center of Montecatini, so there are churches and other older monuments to visit here that aren't found in the lower town.
Viator offers many tours and cooking classes from Montecatini, so you can make it a Tuscany hub if you wish.
The four springs which surface in Montecatini Terme are Leopolidina (taken for constapation), Regina (restores bile flow from liver to bowels; hepatic and bladder disorders) Tettuccio (liver; lower cholesteral levels), and Rinfresco (diuretic; restoration of mineral levels after excercise).
The best way to get treatments is to ask at your hotel or ask hotels that you're considering. There are often package "wellness" deals. For a taste of the experience, you can enter the Tettuccio Spa for an afternoon as a walk-on. Below are the fountains from which the waters flow.
If you are looking for a specific cure, you will want to schedule a visit to a doctor at the spa. A doctor's visit is not absolutely necessary for casual visits. A twelve day cycle twice a year is recommended.
The procedure is simple, whether you're just trying it out or have a doctor's orders. You enter and pay the fee at the spa. They'll give you a glass and you'll take the waters in the morning, and follow with a walk around the grounds of the spa. You should eat lightly during the cure stage. Music is a part of the therapy as it lowers stress, allowing the body to heal. There is even shopping therapy available (yes, a rise in serotonin is seen in women as they shop, and unfortunately, a rise of adrenalin is seen in men). You can go sighseeing in the day, and return later in the afternoon.
If you just want to see what it's all about, there is an afternoon tourist visit available for around 6 euro. The whole day pass is 15 euro, which is what we did in Terme Tettuccio: Taking the Waters