WELLNESS UNDER THE TUSCAN SUN
Wellness Under The Tuscan Sun
The Tuscan countryside in Italy evoke bucolic images of golden rolling hills dotted with pointed cypress trees, centuries-old villages, vibrant fields of poppies and sunflowers, and vineyards ripe with Sangiovese grapes. As renowned as the region is for its wines, I have come for the waters. Since Etruscan times, Tuscan spa towns have attracted those seeking the healing and rejuvenating benefits of its natural hot springs and thermal waters.
The Adler Thermae Resort & Spa is a short stroll from the medieval spa village of Bagno Vignoni - an UNESCO World Heritage Cultural site in the San Quirico Val d’Orcia region, 30 miles south of Siena. Opened in 2004, this five-star retreat redefines the art of wellness with its naturally-heated indoor and outdoor thermal pools, and a comprehensive spa program of Tuscan and global treatments dedicated to physical well-being and inner tranquility. The thermal waters at the Adler Thermae are rich with bicarbonate, sulphur and volcanic minerals providing an array of health benefits such as improving circulation, boosting metabolism, and strengthening the immune system.
Designed as a Tuscan villa on the exterior, the 90 modern and upscale guestrooms at the Adler Thermae are spacious, and look out onto the gardens and outdoor thermal pools with panoramic views of ancient abbeys atop picturesque hills beyond. The two room types – double superior for 2-3 people, and family suite for 3 to 4 people (children over 4 years old are welcome) – are both outfitted with rich wood paneling and furnishings, floor to ceiling windows that bathe the room with natural light, private terraces or balconies, bio air-conditioning with temperature and humidity individually adjustable, and a sitting area. The
bathroom in earth tones features a marble bathtub, huge walk-in-showers with rainfall showerheads and bespoke bath toiletries made from local grapes and honey. There is free Wi-Fi and satellite TV although my favorite thing to watch from the room was the steam coming off the pool in the early morning as the sun rises over the horizon in an amber glow.
THERMAL POOLS & SPA
Mineral-laden water from nearby Bagno Vignoni comes out of the ground at 122°F (50°C) and cooled to 98°F (37°C) for the resort’s indoor and outdoor thermal pools. Spread across the manicured lawns are pools with various temperatures and strength of jets, waterfalls, a freshwater swimming pool with underwater hydro bikes, a children’s pool, and a Wild River channel with a flowing current feature.
Guests have unlimited complimentary access to the thermal circuit which includes salt and herbs-infused steam rooms to relax the muscles and purify the skin, a Grotto steam bath and relaxation cave, an outdoor Watsu pool, a Finnish bio-sauna over the resort’s travertine lake, a “Panoramica” forest sauna with a view of the Tuscan hills, and cold plunge pools to regulate your body temperature. At an extra cost, there is a Rasul bath with curative mud, or you can float in calming stillness at the therapeutic Grotta Salina – a shallow warm water pool filled with Dead Sea salts and flanked by a bronze pair of mythical griffons. There relaxation area has two stories with lounge chairs overlooking the lake and waterbeds for napping.
The resort’s extensive menu of spa and beauty treatments incorporate the latest in wellness technology with modern western medicine, Asian healing disciplines such as Ayurveda and Adler’s own bi-cosmetics line for both men and women. In the past few years, as more men are interesting in coming for the curative powers of the thermal waters, the resort offers anti-aging and detox programs tailored specifically for their male clientele. The Adler Medical has a team of doctors trained in laboratory and aesthetic medicine as well as homeopathy, herbal medicine and nutrition. Guests can arrange for a medical consultation and check-ups, have a food intolerance test and blood analysis at the inhouse laboratory.
As befitting a spa retreat in Tuscany’s wine growing region, the Adler Thermae features signature vinotherapy treatments incorporating red Brunello wine. My favorite is the Dionysus-worthy, Brunello Ritual where couples soak by side-by-side in wine-infused, whirlpool baths followed by massages with grape seed oil before lounging on a waterbed for two while indulging in wine and eating the region’s cheeses.
Their newest exclusive treatment is the Water Sensation Massage Therapy in thermal water that combines Ayurveda with Asian massage techniques. Performed in the hotel’s 96°F pool surrounded by foliage for privacy, guests wear floatation weights to help them stay near the water’s surface as their bodies are gently guided and stretched by a therapist. The emphasis is on the head, neck, shoulders, spine and hips and one devotee likens the experience to “water ballet combined with yoga elements”. The treatment is also available in a couples’ session.
The courtyard dining room at the Adler Thermae is built around a large olive tree with an open retractable roof and arched windows overlooking lush gardens. During the day, bring your sunglasses, and in the evening, the room is romantically lit up with candlelight as the stars above sparkle in the Tuscan sky. The resort’s inclusive half-board program includes breakfast and dinner with an extensive breakfast buffet spread with an egg station for made-to-order omelets, warm pastries (yes, cake for breakfast!), multiple loaves of fresh-baked organic breads including gluten-free, local charcuterie, freshly squeezed fruit and vegetable juices, yogurts, cereals, a huge selection of fresh fruit and local honeys. A light lunch is available at extra cost in the dining room or at the cozy Osteria in the park.
For dinner, the cuisine by Chef Gaetano Vaccaro features light Mediterranean dishes as well gourmet Tuscan specialties incorporating organic herbs and produce sourced from local farms Start with the scrumptious antipasto buffet with charcuterie meats, cheeses, canapés and salads before selecting à la carte courses such as the regional Pici pasta or the classic Chianina beef Fiorentina. The wait staff is attentive and the kitchen can cater to a variety of dietary requirements. Save room for the extensive offerings at the dessert buffet especially the delectable chocolate fountain which beckons me every evening. For the health and waistline conscious, guests can opt for the Adler Balance menu consisting low-calorie selections.
Pair your meal with bio-dynamic Sangiovese wines from the resort’s Tenuta Sanoner Winery which opened in September 2016. With 30 hectares consisting of vineyards and olive trees built on the Bagno Vignoni hillside, the winery currently produces a 2015 Rosé which is 100% Sangiovese with strawberry flavors, a 2015 Aetos Rosé Sparkling made up mostly of Sangiovese with a bit of Chardonnay and Triebbiano added, and the 2014 Rosso which is 100% Sangiovese that is aged 12 months in both new French oak barrels and stainless steel barrels.
ACTIVITIES & EXCURSIONS
To work off all those delicious calories, the fitness facilities are well-equipped with a gym studio and outdoor sportsground, and classes range from Nordic walking to pilates, hydro biking, yoga (both in studio and in water), TRX resistance training, Tai Chi, and many more. You can also enjoy a personalized fitness program with a personal trainer, and there is a full-day kids program. Check out the Hotel Adler daily newsletter at breakfast which outlines all of the day’s activities and classes.
For hiking and biking enthusiasts, there are guided tours or GPS self-guided treks of various lengths to discover the scenic countryside. You can venture through 280 miles of sign-posted hiking trails, or cycle through over 600 miles of bike tracks past olive groves, vineyards and Benedictine monasteries. The resort has complimentary mountain bikes and e-bikes, with race bikes available to rent. Horseback riding can also be arranged. Guided hikes in San Quirico d’Orcia are offered several times a week stopping at a winery and an organic cheese farm where you can sample the excellent local Percorino cheese.
Well worth an excursion are Pienza, Montepulciano and Montalcino in and around Val d’Orcia. The Adler Thermae has mini vans and chauffeured cars for visits to these medieval hilltop towns. Pienza is the largest of the three villages and filled with 15th-century stone buildings such as the summer residence of Pope Pius II, and boutiques selling local handicrafts and Tuscan leather goods, wine and cheese shops. During the summer months, there are evening music concerts in the Duomo di Pienza. Montalcino is well-known for its Brunello wine and there are numerous wineries surrounding the town to sample the vintages at their source. Montepulciano, with its clock tower and Renaissance palazzos, has appeared in numerous films and TV dramas such The Medicis: Masters of Florence, The Twilight Saga - New Moon, Under the Tuscan Sun and The English Patient.
Bagno Vignoni is the closest village and a short walk away from the Adler Thermae Resort & Spa. In the past, Bagno Vignoni was a resting and healing point for Christian
pilgrims traveling the Via Francigena on their way to Rome. Past illustrious visitors have included St. Catherine of Siena and Lorenzo the Magnificent. Instead of a traditional town square, there is a rectangular hot springs pool which is the original source of thermal water from a subterranean aquifer. You can’t swim there but you can enjoy a drink or a gelato at the numerous cafes that surround the pool. Then head back to the Adler Thermae Resort & Spa for another blissful day of healing, relaxation and wellness under the Tuscan sun.
Adler Thermae Resort & Spa Strada di Bagno Vignoni 1 53027 San Quirico d’Orcia
Tel: +39 0577 889 000 Fax: +39 0577 889 999
Rates start at €198 per person, per night, including half-board. Access to the thermal circuit, pools, fitness area and classes is complimentary. Spa treatments cost extra. Depending on the time of the year, a 3 or 4 night minimum stay may apply.