A Tuscan Treasure
Luxury hotel and spa in the heart of Tuscany

 


 
A TUSCAN TREASURE

It was not by accident that I discovered this elegant four-star hotel, formerly the 19th century villa of the Italian poet, Giuseppe Giusti. I had planned a trip to Europe and wanting to return to Tuscany for Spring, I decided to catch up on some much-needed spa time too. Like any switched on 21st century grandmother, I researched European spas on the Internet and discovered this jewel…in the heart of Tuscany. Online response was courteous, informative and immediate…a sign of the excellent service to come.  Oh joy!! aroma-therapy massages AND day trips to famous Tuscan wineries and villages…what could be better?

Arriving on a lovely April day, my joy meter went up just experiencing the trees and hills covered in Spring green, poppies and daisies dancing everywhere. I had rented a car in Florence, so the drive west to Monsummano Terme was brief and scenic. I was greeted by Anna, one of the very capable concierge staff, and given a tour of the hotel and facilities: pool, dining room, spa, lounges. State of the art technology opened my door and invited me into a beautiful and spacious room with a sunny view of the garden and a bathroom, which included in its tub fresh water as well as special thermal waters from the grotto.  

 I settled easily into the room, walked around the grounds, checked in to book some spa treatments…then was taken to the grotto. This is where it all began over a hundred and fifty years ago…the deep caverns and waters of the natural thermal springs. Taken from level I to level II as the body gradually heated up, I finally relaxed into a lounge chair in the deepest part and let the magic of the soft, moist heat infuse my bones. I was in a deeply meditative state when someone gently guided me back to terra firma. Time for hydrotherapy, a blast from a water hose that both rejuvenates and makes for ‘squeaky-clean’. I was ready for a week of this!

And a week I did…enjoying a vast array of therapies: aqua gym, various massages, lymph drainage, anti-aging and de-stressing techniques, masks, anti-cellulite  toning, skin balancing, rehydrating, inhalation. I also met with Dr. Giacomelli, a staff dermatologist for a skin evaluation and recommendations. I was particularly interested in erasing some facial scars and years of tropical sun damage. The peel, microdermabrasion, vitamin C and hydrating follow-up treatments were remarkably effective. To say I am happy with the results is an understatement! My personal spa attendant, Rafaella, was an angel in assisting me with every question and treatment, and just to see her beautiful face each morning brightened my days.

Programs consist of spa only or half and full meal plans at the four star hotel. I had opted for the latter in order to do lunches and picnics in the Tuscan countryside with my grown son, who accompanied me from Venice. He enjoyed golf, tennis, hiking and hanging at the pool, sunning, but also took advantage of many of the grotto therapies.

We now eagerly awaited our first dinner at the hotel restaurant, La Veranda. It was pure Italian gourmet!  The maitre d', waiters and chefs dazzled us with fresh, beautifully plated and presented cuisine…and a wonderful wine list of Italy’s finest. Our first meal included an appetizer of fresh grilled salmon over asparagus with raspberry/dill vinaigrette, risotto with Brunello wine and fois gras, and a stuffed veal filet with wild herbs and mushrooms. Fresh berry charlotte with crème and a lovely cappuccino finished us. Still we slept like babies.

Lest one think it is all calories, options exist for every palate or discipline… vegetarian, low fat, and special dietary needs. The casualness of breakfast is appreciated as some are coming in from a jog or hike on the training trail or off to spa appointments after breakfast, so running outfits and spa robes are dress code. Breakfast is an abundant buffet, or one may order cooked foods from the waiters. ...Italian hunks, all.

Recently purchased and upgraded by a wealthy Italian industrialist, the hotel has undergone extensive renovations, and additions are being made to the spa facilities as well. A new swimming pool is under construction at the far end of the spa, though  one already floats in the gardens on the other side, and a thermal pool is used in the spa for water aerobics and other therapies. “He’s a nut for spas”, I’m told, hence his purchase of another in Northern Italy, the goal being to improve each to set the standard for world-class spas and have these become the number one and two spas in Europe. I have no doubt he’ll reach this goal.

Historically Italians, but more and more Europeans and Americans are finding their way to Grota Giusti, lured by its famous grotto, the superb hotel and employees who know the meaning of true Tuscan hospitality. A staff of over one hundred is tuned to each guest, giving warm, personal service, which goes beyond the call. During my stay Anna and Laura provided directions and suggestions for day trips and evening events around the Tuscan region, took care of laundry, train tickets and further reservations, and looked after my every need.

Another trend is evident in the number of men availing themselves of the treatments and anti-stress programs. Tennis courts and hiking trails and a nearby golf course increase the fun during a longer stay. Golf is discounted for spa guests, and a Courtesy Card, given at arrival, also offers savings on purchases at nearby shops in the charming Monsummano and Montecaterme towns.

Probably as profound as the spa, the cuisine and the warm professionalism of each employee is the sheer beauty of the hotel and its surrounding countryside. To immerse in spring wisteria, dripping lilac color off old stone walls, green pathways and sunny flowers, is healing. Delicious sleep fell each night, surrounded by silence. Deep deep sleep, healing sleep, invigorating sleep. Then there was the day trip to the seaside town of Portovenere, and another to the medieval town of Lucca. Tuscan hillsides, alive with wildflowers and pampered service which nurtured well-being from the heart …treasures from Tuscany…oh Joy!!

Take a virtual tour and contact information at: http://www.grottagiustispa.com

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