A Day in Tuscany’s Montecatini Terme
Ellie Hargreaves suggests ways to treat yourself to a day of relaxation in this pastoral pocket of southern Italy.
Nestled in the heart of Tuscany between the art mecca of Florence and the walled city of Lucca is Montecatini Terme – the largest and most famous spa town in the region. It has been celebrated for its therapeutic waters since at least the 16th century, when the first baths were built here. But beyond the spas, Montecatini Terme is well worth a visit for its elegant buildings, leafy parks and great selection of restaurants. Here are our hot tips on how to spend a day in this laid-back Italian spa town when you are on our 9 Day Italian Explorer trip.
Soak in the thermal waters at Terme Montecatini
Montecatini is famous for its restorative thermal waters and so it would be rude not to indulge in a spa visit while you’re here. From massages to mud baths and saunas to beauty treatments, there’s no shortage of ways to pamper yourself in this Tuscan town. One place that should be on everyone’s list is Terme Tettuccio, a historic spa that offers treatments based on drinking thermal water for its curative properties. The lavish interiors are reason enough to visit and there’s also a pretty park outside – the perfect place for a stroll after your treatment.
Ride the Montecatini Alto Funicular
For those looking to soak up the views of Tuscany’s Nievole Valley, a historic funicular railway runs from Montecatini Terme up to the picturesque medieval hill town of Montecatini Alto. The journey takes just 10 minutes and boasts beautiful views of the Tuscan countryside. After stepping off the funicular, go for a wander through town and discover the Romanesque church and convent dating back to the 12th century. There’s also a small castle and ruins of the ancient walls which once protected Montecatini.
Tempt your tastebuds with a Tuscan sweet
In the heart of town you’ll find Bargilli bakery, a must-visit for anyone looking to satisfy their sweet tooth. Since 1936, the Bargilli family have perfected the art of creating delicious homemade ice cream, biscotti and wafer biscuits. They are most known for their artisan wafer biscuit – the ‘Cialde’. The original recipe for this delicate wafer has been kept in the family for 80 years and hasn’t changed. Pick up some delicious goodies and head to the Parco delle Terme for a picnic and a spot of people-watching.
Dine al fresco at Piazza del Popolo
Piazza del Popolo is the town’s main square and is home to a number of great cafes and bars, as well as a beautiful fountain which makes for a perfect photo spot. Grab a table outside at one of the many restaurants and enjoy a glass of wine with some Italian cuisine as you watch the world go by. If you are looking to pick up some gifts to take home, this is also a great place to do some shopping.