Soft living and slow food Tuscan style

Badia a Passignano, Castiglione della Pescaia, Casciano dei Bagni, Chianciano Terme-with Tuscan villages titled so enticing, it is no surprise this comforting corner of Italy seduces all the senses.

We walked to and through some of these dots on the map (including a trek to Campigloia d’Orcia for organic cuisine) while based at Bagno Vignoni, home to one of the newest spa resorts on the radar screen, the Adler Thermae.

My travel weary brain resounded with a “yes” once we glimpsed the magnificent indoor and outdoor thermal swimming pools of the Adler. And with breakneck speed, I was in my swimsuit and within 10 minutes comforted in inimitable dense clouds of steam rising from the outdoor pools.

The slow pace of life in this pristine corner of Tuscany validated all the promises of the Adler’s Web site. This is a world of natural travertine grottos, saunas, salt steam baths and abundant olive oil. The region’s glorious Tuscan heritage can be experienced with the artistic “Mouth of Truth” (Bocca della Verita), which doubles as a source of crushed ice for those meandering through the spa. This is just another blast to the past designed to gently remind spa goers of an authentic spa experience. After taking in the fragranced vapors in the “Salino” salt steambath, a splash of crushed ice is the perfect ending. The spa complex is conveniently located in the middle of the hotel with all guestrooms within walking distance. Guests are issued robes, slippers and a tote bag for the duration of their stay and informality prevails. Families flock to this spa, and while children are not allowed in the private treatment areas, they flock to the thermal pools, along with a constant flow of honeymooners.

Dr. Thomas Platzer , the resident physician, told me the spa reinforces the philosophy of vital aging. He preferred this term to age intervention or anti-aging, vigorously. I didn’t quite get it until I followed his directions for a few days and felt more like 36 years old than my true age, 63, on the day I checked out.

However, it took more than a Bach Flower Remedy rescue bath each evening and the Vichy thermal shower to make that happen. The success rate here is high because the ambiance is designed to reduce stress, aches and pains, and even calories. The scene is set, but the question is can you disconnect? Although there are phones, cable television, Internet stations and all you need to stay connected, a true “cure” requires total concentration. And, as the others here can testify, the precious moments spent are better spent on the principle of “inner harmony and contentment.”


If that means more than the smooth as silk tiramisu served at dinner, than you are ready for, as they say, the “good things on the doorstep.” In this corner of Val d’Orcia, blessed by the sun, the abundance of olives means an exfoliation with cream made from wine and olive pits, a glass of local red wine at dinner, and 20 minutes alone or with a partner in the ethereal travertine grotto, floating in silence in the warm saltwater.

Fitness training with Coach Jacopo Fantucci is more meaningful with the Check-Fit program; this includes a medical visit, Lifestyle Analysis, Bio Impedance and treadmill test. The Adler has a comprehensive program, so don’t think you’re going to steep in the healing waters exclusively. Guided walks and mountain bike trips are part of the “active meditation” cure and these guided programs reveal the soul of Tuscan living.

If you plan to be in Rome and can fit in a few days at the Adler, consider a package such as a Thousand and One Nights, which includes a variety of treatments from the remarkable Liftosome Facial to two mudwraps in the waterbed.

As one spa goer nicknamed it, the “sauna crawl” is an experience itself, between heating your body with fragranced steam to cooling off in the jet propulsion of the thermal pools you are sure to feel “born again.”

We concluded a four-day program at the Adler by toasting to Vital Aging at the Contucci Winery in nearby Montepulciano.

The owner showed us their family-owned and operated Contucci Suite within the winery, where two stunning 18th century four-poster beds in the middle of the vast high ceiling suite greets travel weary guests. This historical residence overlooking the Piazza Grande is as close to the Renaissance you may ever experience. The cost: $150 a night and $100 for the following nights. Traveling by car is the best way to navigate these meandering roads There are too many stops along the journey to even consider cruise control.


Adler Thermae: 212.860.5566;

Contucci Winery:

Autonoleggio (rental cars with or without a driver): contact Roberto at

Lo Spicchio, aziebda agricola biologica (organic cuisine):

Italian Government Tourist Board:; 310.820.1898

Pamela Price is the co author of “Fun with the Family in Southern CA” (

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