Italy

The Rome Cavalieri continues healthy traditions

It all started in the Middle Ages when knights would stop here before journeying to the Vatican. A stop to relax and to  be fed and watered, to breathe in the oxygenated air in the hills with Rome at their feet. Today, the Rome Cavalieri continues the tradition for travellers and guests, sitting in its enviable location looking out over Rome’s monuments.

The resort overflows with Italian elegance, a showcase of masterpieces, from Andy Warhol to Venetian masters, original antiques and bejewelled costumes worn by Nureyev, all on display.  Swarovski crystal taps and a Karl Lagerfeld couture couch accessorize the penthouse suites. The Rome Cavalieri, A Waldorf Astoria hotel, stands nobly as a private museum of art with an original collection of artefacts which adorn all areas – marble statues lighting up corners, French handmade clocks marking time, rare pieces of furniture and Tiepolo’s masterpiece tapestries draped proudly as centre pieces in the lobby to be enjoyed by guests and visitors alike. The hotel conducts private art tours to show off the 1,100 pieces of art around the property. Italian classical opulence at its best, fit for any Emperor.

Just 15 minutes from the centre of Rome itself, a testament to grand architectural statements, Michelangelo’s brushstrokes, fountains and statues galore with pieces of history around every corner on fine display.  Rome wasn’t built in a day, as they say, so leave plenty of time to appreciate the magnitude of buildings from the grandeur of the Vatican City, the smallest independent state in the world, protected by the Swiss Guard, the Colosseum, a Flavian amphitheatre and symbol of Imperialism and the Pantheon, the oldest domed temple in the city. Rome, the seat of the Roman Empire, a city of clashes, battles and revolts, chariot racing and gladiators all laced by avenues of trees like stilted broccoli florets on guard while operatic performances delight audiences in hidden churches.

The Great Imperial Thermal Baths of Caracalla with its sequence of thermal rooms demonstrate the significance of bathing in Roman times. A public bath was built around three principal rooms: a warm one called the tepidarium, a hot one called the caldarium, where slaves would rub their masters with perfumed oil and a big cold bath called the frigidarium for swimming. Bathing played a major part in ancient Roman culture and society, practiced across all social classes. It was also regarded a medical practice due to the curative powers of the thermal water.

Such practises are continued at the Rome Cavalieri’s Grand Spa, a welcome retreat after roaming Rome. Here, bathing like a Roman is encouraged. The Turkish bath is so spacious you can easily imagine Romans lying over the marble surfaces, plunging in and out of hot and cold pools, cleansing and socialising, retreating into saunas and reclining in the relaxation areas on cushioned divans. The 2,500 square metre spa is impressive and mimics the ancient bathing practises. of spa, with 10 treatments, a spacious Turkish bath, all adorned with elements of original roman baths, framed with columns and patterned with mosaics.

The treatment rooms are very stylish, subtly lit in contemporary, artistic design, emanating a relaxing ambience with contoured walls, seemingly reflecting the rhythmic massage strokes of the therapist. A hydrating facial using La Prairie products is one of their signature treatments resulting in the desired effect. The menu list is extensive and focuses on treatments for both men and women.

There are 345 rooms and 25 suites all enjoying private balconies or terraces, many with views of the Eternal City and St Peter’s Basilica. For roof-top fine dining La Pergola is the only Michelin-rated three-star restaurant in Rome.

Set in tranquillity, nestling in 15 acres of Mediterranean park, travellers are still checking-in to continue the traditions of the Knights of the Middle Ages. Dining, resting and recuperating in opulent and luxurious surroundings, while admiring those Roman decorated domes and monuments glinting from the city afar.

The Rome Cavalieri, A Waldorf Astoria Resort.  www.Romecavalieri.com

A Roma Pass is available for good savings and entrance to many of the attractions. These are valid for 24, 48 or 72 hours.   www.turismoroma.it, toll free information number 00 39 06 060608 and facebook page @turismoroma

With the many cobbled streets around Rome proving difficult for wheelchairs, Roma Experience has this covered with accessible four-hour itineraries. These include a visit to the Vatican which takes in the Sistine Chapel, Raphael’s School of Athens fresco and St Peter’s Basilica and the Colosseum and Roman Forum. For wheelchair friendly tours visit www.romaexperience.com

Facts on Rome…..Did you know:

The Colosseum was once filled with water to stage mock ship battles

The Smiling Pope (Pope John 23rd) is buried in the tombs under St Peter’s Basilica

Michelangelo painted the Sistine Chapel standing, and not on his back

The Vatican welcomes 30,000 visitors to its 5 miles of galleries daily

The Romans believed that a Gladiator’s blood was a source of virility.

They used cobwebs to heal skulls.

Fancy a pizza?

On June 11, 1889, to honour the Queen consort of Italy, Margherita of Savoy, the Neapolitan pizzamaker Raffaele Esposito created the “Pizza Margherita”,

In Rome, a pizza is sold by weight.

 

Natural wellness sparkles in Hotel Plunhof’s stylish Spa Minera

Swimming with snowflakes, floating by flames, massaged with stones, pummelled with rollers and immersed in the smoke of burning bark.  Wellness takes on the natural elements at the sparkling new Spa Minera at Hotel Plunhof, peaking out of the Stubai Alps in Italy’s South Tryol region.

It’s lilac and silver, wood and water, glazed with silver quartzite at every viewpoint. Natural elements represent the lifeblood of the spa, its DNA.

And I took full advantage. I likened the experience to swimming in a luxury lounge, the water like a rippled carpet flowing under stairs and dappled with reflections from Swarovski crystal chandeliers glittering from above. I floated by oversized loungers shaded with bulbous table lights, book shelves on one side, a stone log fire in the centre, wood-panelled walls, mirrored pillars and squidgy seating all around. Comfortable tranquillity, understated glitz.

How luxurious to wallow in such exquisite surroundings. Warm, intimate and decadent. And then, just like magic, glass doors opened to an outside poolscape where the snow taps you on the shoulder and a mist disguises the surface. It’s eerie and atmospheric. Towering mountains greet you, nothing in-between, except the water warm, the air refreshingly cool.

Relaxation areas seem to appear around every corner to surprise you, each dressed in a different style, another ambience to enjoy. But finding them a second time is an art in itself. They all offer those please-lie-on-me loungers of every shape and style, rugs in the right place, contemporary fireplaces and enviable panoramic scenery with a focal point towards the Santa Maddalena Church sitting alone enclaved into the side of the mountain.

The hotel is located about an hour from Innsbruck in the Ridanna Valley. It’s a family affair – run by the Volgger family whose personal attention is in evidence from the moment you arrive.  I met Thomas who proudly showed me the spa facilities, just three months old, all sparkly and new. Excitedly he told me of further plans although I was quite content with the stylish spaces they have painstakingly produced. Five saunas, two whirlpools, relaxation areas – too many to count, a fitness room, pools indoor and out and a dedicated room for classes.

With 67 rooms which overlook Alpine scenery, this dedicated wellness space has been designed to incorporate Spa Minera & Acqua Minera, all 4,000 sqm of it.  Here it never seems busy although you may spot a few guests strewn over sofas, strolling in robes or hanging out in the saunas, relaxed and chilled. Guests come here to ski in the winter months – there’s a daily bus to the slopes, – or for bracing hikes in the fresh crisp air. They all enjoy overdoses of pure relaxation, rejuvenation and therapeutic therapies.

The treatment menu reflects the Spa’s focus on natural elements with its creative use of local resources blended with traditional healing principles. My 80-minute massage was performed with pine wood rollers of various sizes delivering pressure and heat as it toured the body. Strong at times, the pressure and warmth re-routed the flow of energy unblocking areas to leave a sense of renewed calm. Billed as Pine Vitality, this relaxing ceremony aims to channel the inner spirit to activate self-healing powers.

From wood to stone, the Silver Quartzite Stone Massage experience was gentle, directional, purposeful and somewhat spiritual. In the background, haunting chants, as if resonating from a monastery chamber, kept my focus in the moment while long rhythmic strokes would halt periodically to grind energy in chakra areas and then swiftly sweep away negative residue. Enhanced by the burning of bark shavings, this meridian massage, combined  precious natural minerals with medicinal herbs, warm oils and raw materials to leave me released of negative feeling, grounded and strong.

Heat, water and steam, ancient bathing rituals, Kneipp pools, infra-red cabinets, a shower temple, a thermal grotto and saunas of every kind are plentiful here. Temperatures range from ice cold, mild, hot and only just bearably hot.  The revived ancient ritual “Thrown into the Knappensauna” is featured on the daily programme and not to be missed, It involves very hot temperatures in a large sauna cabin, au natural, save for a few towels. A staff member, acting like a central courtier parades around the central burning coals sporting a large fan to direct hotter air over each person. Red in the face, sizzling by the second, we brave souls lasted the 15 minute experience to be rewarded with a barefoot stroll in the outside snow followed by salt peeling in the steam room. All this to cleanse the skin, stimulate circulation, loosen joints, exfoliate the skin surface and improve the immune system…..

From tried and tested organic resources to the latest technology, The Spa Minera has moved with the times to offer a wide range of advanced cosmetic treatments.  The Dr Spiller Celltresor Facial followed an in-depth regime which included a machine-controlled cleanse and a serum massage followed by a collagen mask which felt and looked like an Egyptian mummy covering. The result, a thorough treatment and a plumper look! This facial is designed to maximize the skin’s rejuvenation by targeting muscles to relax facial features.

Qi Gong  and Yoga, exercise and wellness all have to be nourished and the Hotel’s restaurant does it well. Inventive menus, organic ingredients and a balanced fusion of tastes are a match to any high class establishment. Think venison steak with cranberry pear served with red sauerkraut with apples and polenta cream, roasted suckling pig cup with beer jus or guinea fowl with figs – exotic descriptions, plated artistically and served to your reserved table. In addition, a choice of irresistible desserts and a buffet area ever laden with homemade artisan breads, fresh produce and, homemade oils and dressings.  So much choice, an occasion in itself, a restaurant to be rewarded.

Spa Minera has borrowed wellness from Mother Nature. “Back to the origins… the force of the earth and the might of the stone” are the words inscribed on the glass window – wellness instilled in its structure, soul and spirit.

Hotel Plunhof is a member of Niche Destinations  www.niche-destinations.com

Prices for a double room Minera – from €118 pp sharing including half board and use of Spa Minera

Hotel Plunhof, Family Volgger, Obere Gasse 7, 39040 Ridnaun – Ratschings, Italy. Tel.:+ 39 0472 656247. info@plunhof.it     

www.plunhof.it

Essential Facts Italy

Airport: Italy has a variety of airports. The country’s largest airport is the Leonardo da Vinci Airport, which is 26 kilometers west of Rome and is near the Mediterranean coast by the city of Fiumicino. Another main airport is the Milan Malpensa Airport, which is 50 kilometers’ northwest of Milan. Others include Naples International, Florence and Venice Marco Polo Airports.

Voltage: 230 V

Time Zone: UTC + 1

Weather/Climate: Overall, Italy experiences a Mediterranean climate with hot, dry summers and cool, wet winters. In the north and mountainous regions, winters in Italy are cool and humid, but in the coastal areas, winters are relatively warm. During the summer months, the south of the peninsula witnesses hot temperatures with an average high of 28-33°C and frequent thunderstorms. However, along the coast, summers are accompanied by a breeze, and in the mountains, summer months see cooler temperatures.

Language Spoken: Italian

Currency: Euro

Dialing Code: +39

Silvotherapy – the art of Tree Hugging in Italy

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Hugging a tree could seriously improve the quality of your life as demonstrated by a new package offered by Adler Dolomiti’s “Yoga & The Healing Power of Trees”

This three-night half-board package includes two sessions of outdoor yoga amid the natural beauty of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Italian Dolomites that will help to re-charge guests’ batteries, while helping to establish inner harmony and peace. During the walk guests will be introduced to the theory of silvotherapy (the art of healing the body by harnessing the energy of the trees). It also includes access to the hotel’s spa and wellness programmes. This is available for one weekend only, from 21 to 24 September.  To book this unique package, visit:www.adler-resorts.com/en

Adler Dolomiti is accessible by flying to either Innsbruck or Verona, then to Ortisei by private transfer, rail or airport coach.

In the early 1980s, Japanese scientists discovered that simply inhaling the aromas produced by trees could immunise the body against disease. Phytonicides, which trees emit to protect themselves from harmful insects and germs, have strong anti-bacterial and anti-fungal qualities when inhaled by humans. American medical research has also proved that just being among trees is good for well-being, with stress levels and blood pressure lowered within three minutes of being in a green space.

Touching, stroking, leaning on and, above all, hugging a tree is beneficial to your health, with individual tree species having different effects on people. Among the trees that are prevalent in the Dolomites, beech improves concentration and well-being, will help ease a sore throat and improves kidney function, while pine is good for the respiratory system, helps to treat depression and restores balance, while reducing fatigue.

Many pharmaceuticals are derived from trees: aspirin comes from willow bark and Pycnogenol, which protects against deep vein thrombosis, is made from pine tree bark.

MEZZATORRE RESORT & SPA, ITALY

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Located on the Island of Ischia, this medical spa offers guests a wide variety of thermal treatments for circulation, arthritis, and sinus complications. A private thermal spring, flowing at 45°C, allows the resort to offer an extensive menu of balneotherapy treatments. Dr. Giulio Flavio Uggiano, and his team of dedicated staff can assist guests in choosing a treatment that is right for them. Mezzatorre Resort & Spa has on site accommodation and multi-day medical and wellness packages.

Italy Tourism Highlights

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Think Vespa tours amid vineyards, eating gelato on venetian canals, shopping in Milan, Roman statues, the Vatican and of course Italian pizza.

Rome, the capital of Italy, is the city acclaimed for its astounding architecture, rich history, Roman ruins, and wide collection of arts.

While in Rome, make sure you check out some of the many iconic landmarks:

The Colosseum – the largest amphitheater ever built, made out of concrete and sand. Most of the structure is still standing today.

The Vatican City is home to the Catholic church and the Pope. (Remember to dress conservatively to gain entrance). Here you can see the famous brushstrokes of Michaelangelo in the Sistine Chapel.

The Pantheon Stands as one of the most well preserved Roman structures.

Don’t forget The Spanish Steps and Piazza Navona.

Florence: Is recognized as the capital of Italy’s Tuscan region. Florence has many iconic art and architecture pieces dated back from the Renaissance era. One of the most notable structures in Florence is the Duomo, which is the large and world famous cathedral.

Venice is Italy’s “sinking city.” Venice is made up of 118 small islands which can be reached by the large canal system, linking the islands to one another. Don’t leave without taking a gondola trip and treat yourself to a cornetto gelato!

And located on the southern edge of Italy, the Amalfi Coast traces the Sorrentine Peninsula and offers breathtaking views from sheer cliffs and dotted with pastel colored buildings.

UNIQUE THERAPY: Age Reducing Acupuncture

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GARGANO, ITALY

At Lake Garda in Gargano, Italy, the Lefay Resort & SPA Lago di Garda is a luxury eco spa resort that aspires to enhance the wellbeing of its guests by using the preventative approach of classical Chinese medicine with modern Western techniques. Two new acupuncture treatments have recently been introduced.

Farfalla di Seta is a new aculifting and face massage using the ancient Gua Sha method, which aims to reduce signs of aging through non-invasive and non-toxic treatment.

Il Fluire del Ruscello is a newly developed anti-cellulite body treatment applied through acupuncture and massage, also using the Gua Sha method.

UNIQUE THERAPY: Range of anti-ageing treatments, Merano, Italy

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This health resort offers health and beauty treatments including non-invasive facelifts, collagen boosters along with a fantastic detox program. All the treatments are based on the unique Biontology method. This method is a scientifically based understanding on the evolution of vital resources for the human body at different stages of life.

Palace Merano Espace focuses on balancing the mind and the body to help the body stay young, and age in the best way possible.

UNIQUE THERAPY: Floating therapy in ancient caves, Tuscany Italy

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Travel underground to the ancient thermal caves in Tuscany to relieve pain, combat stress and float to a happier state of mind!

This 130-million year old natural cave with its thermal underground hot spring lake acts as a natural steam room and venue for a floating therapy to aid relaxation and detox.

The cave has been hidden for most of its long history but today, the nineteenth-century villa of the poet Giuseppe Giusti, guards what he regarded as the “eighth wonder of the world”

Research consistently demonstrates that floating therapy has a significant impact on mood enhancement from the deep meditative state achieved and the resulting increase in the levels of dopamine and endorphins.

Surrounded by pictureseque parks, the Grotta Giusti Hotel has maintained its historical air and natural charm. It offers 64 lavish rooms with marble bathrooms and thermal water on tap.