Montecatini Terme is a happy Tuscan mix of art, culture, and legendary spa scene.
Belle Époque is the graceful era between 1890 and 1914 when Montecatini developed its elegant spa-style. Art Nouveau bathhouses set in a verdant, landscaped parks offered thermal baths, massage and full-body mud treatments — fangotherapy.
Celebrities like Giuseppe Verdi and Giacomo Puccini flocked to Montecatini’s healthful waters, and like me, were soon captivated by the natural charms of this Tuscan treasure.
Theater Boy and I practice our far niente skills over lunch in high style at the grand Hotel Tettuccio whose old-fashioned, courtly service transports us back to a graceful era.
Being something of an Italian chocolate scholar, I head to nearby Cioccolato e Company. I begin my research with an immodest trifecta of nut bark in three shades of delicious.
Followed by Mojito and Puccini bonbons, and a few swoon-worthy silky truffles.
Twirling a dark chocolate spoon through hot cappuccino is a sweet recharge. I assemble a scholarly selection for David. I doubt they will survive until he arrives. Peccato!
Such a sweet way to fill an hour (or two) — highly recommended!
I walk off my chocolate buzz at Montecatini Contemporary Art (MoCA), which occupies two floors of the historic town hall and houses an impressive collection. Best of all, it is free and open to the public.
Joan Mirò’s Woman Entangled in a Flight of Birds is one of MoCA’s best-known and most striking works. Locals say it expresses Miro’s frustration with the confinement of illness. I say it also expresses the joy of making a beautiful mess — note the freeform coffee stains.
Romeo Marchetti’s delizioso caricature illustrates the popularity of both Giuseppe Verdi and thermal baths in the early 1900s. Look closely and you will glimpse the reflected parade of celebrities visiting Montecatini throughout the last century.
MoCA’s current exhibition, Montecatini: Garden Spa of Europe, tells the story in painting, photography and graphic design (through April 2020).
Art. Design. History. Slow food. Silky chocolate. Montecatini Terme has it all. •
Next up … Montecatini Alto, Ferrara, Vicenza, a week in Padova and sunny seafood lunch in Venice.