Italy: Fonteverde, Tuscany


A former Medici palace set in the medieval village of San Casciano dei Bagni, Fonteverde is a grand, 17th Century property overlooking the lush Tuscan hills, and a Leading Hotel of the World. Designed to reflect the style and art of the Renaissance period – think wrought iron balconies, rich red fabrics, antique furniture and marble floors – the beautiful Fonteverde boasts 78 elegant rooms and suites, four restaurants – including one for fine dining – meeting rooms and immaculate gardens. Did I mention the views?

What's on offer

The award-winning, modern 5,000-square metre La Spa spaciously occupies three levels, with natural light flooding throughout via floor-to-ceiling windows.

Pools are the central focus here with an envious seven on offer, although not all of them are available to spa guests – stay in the hotel and you can avail yourself of them all. We loved the fact that one is dedicated to four-legged friends.

Fed by natural springs bubbling out of the ground at 42 degrees, the mineral-rich, medicinal waters have been used for millennia by everyone from the Romans and Medicis, to modern-day spa-goers.

Fonteverde

The large circular ‘Bioaquam’ pool is a must-try, with bubble seats, a whirlpool and a walkway with air jets. There’s also a large outdoor infinity pool offering lovely hillside views, a pool for spa day guests, a children’s pool and two indoor pools used for treatments such as ‘Thalaquam Massage’ and the ‘Bath of Light’.

Pools aside, other facilities include a Turkish bath, a thermal cave, a sauna, a steam room and a fitness area with gym and cardio studios.

Try the ‘Etruscan circuit’: steam room, sauna, plunge pool… repeat.

Fonteverde

Tell us about the treatments

Fonteverde offers a traditional spa programme of massages and facials alongside fuller, health-based treatments such as the Equilibrium programme, designed – literally – to bring you back into equilibrium using four basic principles: reduce stress, eat well, exercise and participate in spa treatments.

On arrival, Equilibrium guests undergo a medical check-up – height, weight, blood and urine test – and talk to both a nutritionist and a treatment specialist to determine the therapies from which they would derive the most benefit. Staff then put together a personalised diet, exercise and treatment plan for your stay: in my case mud therapies, massages, healthy amounts of exercise, and even healthier food.

A typical day could start with a 3km walk followed by a wrap treatment, a lunchtime aqua-fitness class and an afternoon with a personal trainer, concluding with a spot of early evening meditation.

A key element of the Equilibrium programme is mud: natural clay mixed with water from the hot springs heated to 47 degrees and piped directly into your treatment cabin. My therapist covered my whole body in gauze before coating it in the warm medicinal mud; she then left the room to allow the heat to relax my muscles and unwind my mind, tip-toeing back in every now and again to wipe the sweat from my forehead (my hands were wrapped up).

I was then asked to lie in a bath of hot spring water to wash off the mud. After a few minutes, I felt ready to take on the world.

Equilibrium guests leave Fonteverde with a printout of suggestions to concentrate on at home, including lifestyle, nutrition and recommended relaxation techniques.

Other treatments at La Spa include physiotherapy, oriental disciplines such as Ayurvedic and Dipu massages and a full range of aesthetic medicine – think peels, fillers and eye contouring.
Products come from La Spa’s own creation, Eteria – an exclusive cosmetics line designed by the hotel’s medical team to fight the ageing process. Sold in the spa’s boutique, the range includes cleaners, masks and serums.

Fonteverde

Food facts

On the Equilibrium programme, there is a personalised meal plan based on recommended calories and taste. I ate vegetable soups, salads with toasted nuts and chia seeds, and buckwheat. The combination of herbs and spices, such as cumin and turmeric, and the visually-attractive presentation, meant that my senses were satisfied after each meal. Despite being on 1,000 calories a day, I never felt hungry; indeed, over the course of the three-days programme, I lost two kilos.

Tuscan and Mediterranean flavours dominate all the menus here, with local, organic ingredients used to create healthy, colourful plates, complemented by a wine cellar replete with Tuscan wines. Try the signature ricotta and buffalo mozzarella cheese braids using local cheeses.

We also enjoyed a cooking lesson led by master chef Salvatore Quatro, who showed us how to prepare fresh ingredients quickly and simply – arming us with recipes to try
at home.

Fonteverde

Who would like it?

Anyone who wants to take control of their physical and mental health and live longer – we arrived home more informed and ‘mindful’ towards diet and exercise.

There are some challenges along the way, so some support from a partner or friend throughout the Equilibrium programme is recommended.

Don't miss

  • The morning walks through the local landscape and village – this is a great way to add a burst of fresh air to your day without over-doing it.
  • The Bioaquam circuit – a large hot pool where you can move from one massage jet to another; sit in the warm bubbling water and you watch the sun go down over the cypress trees.

Find out more. The Equilibrium programme runs for three or seven days; seven-days stays are from €2,705 per person

Single_Spa_Spy
  • Author

    Single Spy

  • Age Young at heart. Oh, alright then, 50s.
  • Skin type As therapists like to say: "mature".

Spa Likes

"Warm floors when you put your bare feet upon them; heated treatment beds; soft towels; attention to detail, so that your treatment room looks and smells beautiful when you arrive in it."

Spa Dislikes

"Cold floors when you put your bare feet upon them; therapists who use your treatment time to write up a list of product "recommendations" that they hope you will purchase."