There’s a famous quote that says, “Traveling is the ruin of all happiness! There’s no looking at a building after seeing Italy.” I tend to agree.
I found it hard to resist the emotional pull of the wondrous Duomo in Florence, Rome’s ancient Coliseum or the colorful row of houses on the tiny island of Burano. Italy’s towering mountains, sunny landscapes and rustic charms accompanied by fabulous food and wine and Italian hospitality make it one of the finest travel destinations anywhere. The abundance of Renaissance art alone made my head spin. I found myself mesmerized by my surroundings, adoring the sights, sounds and smells, but becoming glassy-eyed. I needed to slow down, unwind and simply bask in the Italian culture.
So, I decided to take my overloaded mind, weary feet and aching back to the Adler Thermae Spa Resort. I’d have a massage and soak my cares away in the warm mineral-rich waters. In retrospect, I could not have made a better choice.
The drive to the Adler alone began to relieve travel fatigue. As I passed along the pastoral acres of Val d’Orcia, I began to breathe clean, crisp air and absorb the splendor of nature instead of man-made beauty. The rolling hills unfolded like the pages of a coffee table book: stone farmhouses tucked behind swaying grasses, rows of tall Italian Cypress trees and fields divided like a layout of a checkerboard quilt. I pinched myself and wanted to stop my driver to savor the moment and snap photos to remember the details.
The Adler sits about 40 minutes from Sienna where I’d started. The Sanoner family, who opened their first resort in the Dolomites in the 1800s, created the Tuscan getaway and are recognized as pioneers in the wellness industry.
The Adler Resort is the result of a careful merging of the traditional thermal spa and a modern fitness resort with a UNESCO World Heritage site. That’s an unbeatable combination. The concept is to enjoy good health, good food and service while exploring treatments and fitness in a natural and remarkably beautiful environment. I guarantee they succeed.
Once I reached the Adler, I slipped into my bathing suit and robe and headed for the lagoon-size pool. Stepping into the naturally heated pool became a carefree moment of bliss. These are the same waters whose healing powers the ancient Romans and Etruscans fancied. I scooted among warm water-jets strategically placed around the pool to relieve aching muscles. I meandered toward the center fountain where powerful streams of pulsating liquid massaged my tightened back, head and entire body simultaneously.
Napping is encouraged on the comfortable lounge chairs surrounding the pool, in hammock chairs or on posh circular couches in the serenity salons. These rest rooms are a haven of relaxation. I settled down feeling like a contented animal curled up in a soft nest. The atmosphere radiates peace and calmness that seeps in and satiates your brain.
Ease is encouraged, and guests may wear their robe into breakfast or lunch if they desire. I found it fun to wear comfort at breakfast! However, everyone gets a bit dressed up for dinner. Meals at the Adler present Tuscan flavors and specialties, such as superior local cheese and honey, cured meats and charcuterie, fresh vegetables, fruits, and herbs, plus outstanding wine. You order your gourmet entrée but help yourself at the buffet, which features a smorgasbord of culinary treats. (Many guests choose the American plan fees that include breakfast and the scrumptious dinner extravaganza.)
Spa treatments are the therapeutic goal of the resort, and the aestheticians and therapists come highly trained. There is little turn over among the staff, guaranteeing that a true professional provides your session. I learned that 90% of the staff has been with the hotel since it opened 12 years ago. The percentage of guests who return is also extremely high for the hotel industry. It seems everyone is happy here.
I sampled the Vino Therapy Anti-aging Facial that left my skin silken fresh and feeling years younger. The session included a gentle peeling and draining with active agents from red Sangiovese grapes. My indulgent massage included oils from local olive trees, sheep’s milk and honey from a line of Tuscan spa products found only at Adler. Tuscan herbs, salt and other natural ingredients also spice up the resort’s exotic saunas and steam baths.
While guests certainly don’t need to leave the Adler Thermae, the resort’s guided hiking, biking and van tours are a fun way to explore. Outings take guests to nearby historic towns such as Montepulciano, Montalcino, Pienza and Siena, and traditional wineries and farms that helped earn the region its designation as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Depending on the day, guests might join a hike that leads to a farmhouse for a tasting of fresh-pressed olive oils and wines or choose a truffle hunting expedition followed by a truffle-tasting lunch.
The Adler sits along the Via Francigena, or pilgrimage trail, a town-to-town hiking route created in the Middle Ages for pilgrims heading from Canterbury to Rome. I took a walk up to the hamlet of Bagno Vignoni to see the source of the thermal water and for a closer view of the castle or Castiglione d’Orcia that tops the mountain summit. The views are spectacular and well worth the hike.
For guests interested in mountain biking, the resort maintains a website and free smartphone app with downloadable maps and suggested biking and walking itineraries developed in collaboration with the Val d’Orcia Association.
I have never stayed at a spa resort where I have felt more relaxed and at ease. The atmosphere is friendly and welcoming, not haughty. The array of treatments, fitness options, and location are all first class. I am not the only one who feels this way because the Adler runs near full occupancy. Book as far in advance as possible, but I encourage you to go soon.
For more information visit www.adler-thermae.com.