Travel to Italy this year promises a blend of the old and new with four destinations, covering traditional, hip, rustic and romantic.
The 246-room Exedra Hotel is a historic, 19th century building located between two landmarks, Michelangelo’s Basilica of the Angels and the Roman Diocletian Thermal baths. The Exedra has luxurious touches, such as a rooftop swimming pool with magnificent city views and a new spa that pays homage to the ancient Roman thermal baths. La Frusta is the hotel’s signature restaurant. Adam D. Tihany designed it with inspiration from the Federico Fellini masterpiece film, “Otto e Mezzo”.
Tihany’s design is seen at Tazio, the lobby-level restaurant named in honor of Tazio Secciaroli, the forefather of paparazzi. His photography is the inspiration for this sensuous restaurant, opening to the piazza.
The interior of the hotel is softly lit with warm, golden hues. Flowers are arranged in the most unexpected fashion, and they delight the eye. Marble bathrooms brim with scented amenities. The concierge can arrange for a private sightseeing tour of Rome with a few hours notice. The Exedra manages to link the past to the present effortlessly.
Rolling out the red carpet is the 99-room Aleph, a hip hotel defying conventional modes of hospitality. The theme is a “frenetic dance of contrasts,” to quote the Boscolo Hotel group. In order to decipher the design, it must first be said that this is where “Dante’s Inferno” meets Downtown Rome. It is the stage for Heaven and Hell. As you enter, the radiant red interior engulfs you, right down to the restaurant with servings of red caviar. But heaven isn’t too far away.
The Aleph’s spa can be reached by elevator just below the lobby level. Although small and compact, with an exercise room and rather tiny treatment room, the impact reinforces the theme of ‘heaven and hell’ to perfection. It all comes together in the minimalist relaxation chamber, which once served as a vault. Dramatic to an extreme, as a result of the surrealistic lighting and curvaceous white divan, this spa takes relaxation to a higher level than those found in conventional hotels. But just wait until you discover the hotel’s reading room with no books.
Two hours from Rome by train takes you to the Tuscan countryside, where the Fonteverde Terme and Hotel in the Village of San Casciano dei Bagni welcomes spa guests with enough choices for watery pleasures to fill a 20-page spa catalog. The innovative spa includes diagnostic services, facials, body treatments, oriental-inspired treatments and fitness classes.
Taking the waters at the spa can be done as a hotel guest or as a day-spa experience.
General Manager Mauro Bonacini says, “The properties of the pure spa waters, comprised of sulfate, calcium fluoride and magnesium have a stress-reducing effect on spa goers.”
The menu includes tea with a healthy spin, such as Digestive Infusion number six, bitter orange, rhubarb and mint. Described as being good for digestion, it is to be sipped slowly. For those who want to linger here, there are weekly programs with medical consultations, Etruscan baths, fitness programs and a “four-hand massage.” This renaissance inspired resort is the epitome of living under the Tuscan sun, with the addition of healing waters in the midst of rolling hills, stunning décor and a caring staff.
RELAIS LA VITRICHINA
A farmhouse in tucked away in the hills of San Casciano dei Bagni, owned by Milvio and Marina Riccardi. This cozy farmhouse has all the ingredients of a perfect Tuscan holiday. This is the place to savor organic dining, spacious accommodations and a marvelous swimming pool in a setting that inspires poetry. Of course, don’t expect a perfectly paved road to paradise! This is the real Tuscany, complete with owners who make you feel right at home the moment you arrive. Staying at a conventional hotel will never be the same after a few days “on the farm” with Milvio and Marina!
n Boscolo hotels (888.626.7265) for reservations and rates. (The Exedra and Aleph) www.boscolohotels.com.
n LaVitrichina (338.985.1183) www.vetrichina.it.
n Fonteverde Terme & Hotel. 800.223.6800
n British Airways (1.800.AIRWAYS) www.britishairways.com
n San Casciano dei Bagni (general information on the region) www.commune.sancascianodeibagni.siena.it
n Tuscan inspired art with a twist www.robertlarkin.com
Pamela Price is the coauthor of 100 Best Spas of the World