History of Italian spas
There are lots of spas and thermal sources in Italy. Italian spa facilities offer different beauty treatments to distress or alleviate serious problems. The tradition of spas date back to ancient times and even Greek physician Hippocrates strongly advocated the therapeutic benefits of the ancient spa facilities.
The Romans built many hot air baths and used oil, massage and exfoliation treatments. During medieval times the popes used the cures of the therapeutic water. Edwardian royalty, aristocracy and artists loved to visit the great spas of Europe.
Mineral water contains dissolved mineral salts from the soil and terrain which have curative properties. The heat of the water which comes from far beneath the earth before it gushes forth as a spring also adds to its healing qualities. Thermal waters are good for many conditions, including skin problems, nose, ear and throat troubles, such as sinus, and arthritis. Increasingly, women are using the very popular beauty treatments available at many spas. These include anti-cellulite treatments, body masks with mud or seaweed, ex-foliation, and delightful massages.
Ways of using thermal waters
Ways in which the water is used include sipping the mineral waters, having relaxing baths and showers to stimulate the skin and get rid of toxins, and hydro massages, i.e. showering underwater so that the spray of the water has less force.
Famous Italian spas
Well-known spas in Italy worth visiting include Abano Terme, Saturnia, Viterbo and Ischia.
- Abano Terme. This spa near Venice was used by the ancient Romans and features extremely hot water – 87 degree Celsius – which contains sodium chloride, sodium bromide and sodium iodide. There are107 hotels here to choose from and there are many beauty treatments available, including phytotherapy and fangotherapy, i.e. mud therapy. This area is famous for its fangotherapy, which consists of placing radioactive mud poultices on the skin for 15 to 30 minutes, bathing the mud off in a mineral bath, and a bracing massage. Mud therapy is also good for arthritis and sports injuries, and may stimulate beta- endorphins – the body’s natural pain killers.
- Saturnia. The area around this ancient hillside town in Tuscany is famous for its hot sulphurous waters from underground springs. Near the town there is a large waterfall which forms many natural rock pools in which the ancient Romans and Etruscans liked to bathe. The waters here are also famous for their thermal plankton, which is believed to have a moisturizing and rejuvenating effect on the skin.
- Ischia. Ischia is a beautiful, volcanic island near Naples nicknamed ‘the green island’ because of its very green vegetation. Famous for its mineral springs which are very hot and radioactive, many treatments are available at the spas here. These include mud baths, in which argilla, i.e. volcanic mud, is mixed with water and spread on the body for about half an hour; cave therapy, i.e. spending a short time in the hot caves nearby to help the heart and breathing; thermal baths; and massages. These treatments all help skin problems, help to get rid of stress, and have a rejuvenating effect.