Wellness Italian Style

People adore Italy for manifold reasons: the art, the food, the denizens, the romance, the language, the architecture, the shopping and the lifestyle—to name a few. But sometimes travelers forget the fact that Italy reigns, too, as one of the world’s top wellness destinations. What if you went to Italy, stepped into a spa—and never left to go sightseeing at all? That rather redefines dolce vita, doesn’t it? Here are six havens of well being we recommend for Italian-style repose. 

In Ischia

Mud baths and thermal soaking have been a tradition on Ischia, a volcanic island in the Gulf of Naples, since Roman times—if not before. Discover the curative power of the isle’s mineral-rich largesse at Regina Isabella Resort, a luxurious hotel on the threshold of the historic Regina Isabella spa and baths. There, partake of countless beauty and medical rituals—such as thermal showers, mud wraps, thermal baths, vapor treatments, masks and thermal dermatology. Between treatments, relish the delights of this 1950’s-era hotel, glamorously awash in local design flourishes, such as colorful floor tiles. A dolce far niente hotspot for a power list of celebrities old and new—including Elizabeth Taylor, Maria Callas, Matt Damon and Francis Ford Coppola—, Regina Isabella Resort proposes a range of wellness packages, including a seven day Strengthen Your Defenses program meant to boost the immune system .

In Tuscany

Just the mention of Tuscany summons thoughts of immense pleasure. In hilly central Italy, profuse with vineyards, olive groves, tall pines and bright sunflowers in season, the region incorporates a slew of romantic traits. Embodying nearly all of them, Borgo Santo Pietro a former centuries-old-farm, lies near medieval Siena. Anchored by a 12th-century villa, the estate boasts a holistic spa, powered by Seed to Skin Tuscany, its own widely respected, organic skincare line. It also harbors two acclaimed restaurants—one with a Michelin star—, a cooking school, a 300-acre working farm, celestial gardens, its own wine label and a bespoke sailing yacht Satori. Expect toothsome farm-to-fork cuisine and creative activities (art lessons, for example) aplenty to accompany your healing time at the hotel’s green-minded Borgo Spa. 

On Lake Garda

Vibrantly blue Lake Garda, nestled just south of the Dolomites, ranks as Italy’s largest—albeit lesser known—lake. A favorite of ancient Roman wellness seekers for its hot springs, Garda’s lake region continues to attract spa lovers. Explore that salubrious vibe at Leading Hotels of the World’s  Grand Hotel Fasano’s AQVA Spa, situated halfway between Milan and Venice. Specializing in Ayurvedic treatments by Aveda (try the Chakra Balancing Massage), the airy spa also excels with Sothy’s slimming body treatments and the brand’s renowned contouring facials. Complement your spa days with pampered moments in your suite and the common areas of this exquisite hotel, constructed in 1888 as a hunting lodge for the regal Habsburgs of Austria.

On Lake Como

While most people travel to Lake Como to catch a glimpse of George Clooney and his villa—not to mention a chance to shop in Bellagio or explore the myriad little towns along the shores of this world famous, Y-shaped lake, Grand Hotel Victoria , a grandly refurbished Belle Epoque hotel, vaunts a spa sure to entice you to visit for wellness reasons, too. Enter: the extraordinary Erre Spa, which transforms the buzzy holiday spot of Menaggio into the ultimate wellness haven. A consummately European-style spa, rife with saunas, pools, Kneipp pathways and cold plunge therapies, the subterranean sanctuary encompasses some 12,000-salubrious square-feet. Enjoy hours in the therme portion of the spa (open to all hotel guests) before yielding to the ministrations of a well trained therapist in the one of the oasis’ charming treatment rooms. Biologique Recherche facials, a speciality, are not to be missed. Back in your guest room, gaze from the balcony of your suite at Lake Como, a view also capable of curing what ails you.

In  Venice

Thanks to the horrors of the plague, Venice, long a crossroads for trade, established the world’s first Ministry of Health in 1485—and it stayed active for more than 400 years. Known during that time as pioneers in healthcare, the Venetians were innovative in aspects of prevention and awareness regarding all sorts of illnesses, including mental health concerns. Perhaps that laid the groundwork for the first class spa culture that exists in the Lagoon City today—especially at hotels such as San Clemente Palace Kempinski Venice, a bedazzling retreat set on its own private island. At the resort’s bi-level The Merchant of Venice spa guests can sample global wellness via treatments inspired by ancient recipes and traditions, brought to Venice by merchants from the east. Amongst its more than 4,000-square-feet of opulence, test out remedies such as the Anti-Stress massage with sandalwood oil or the 24 karat Gold Mask which sheathes your face in therapeutic gold leaves. 

In Rome

rome cavalieri

Thank the ancient Romans. Their love for bathing and their belief in the healing powers of water helped set the standard for today’s worldwide spa culture. Their often immense bath complexes went beyond a place to get clean. They also posed as mini country clubs, places to meet, swim, work out, gossip, play games, debate and spa. Delve into that spirit at Cavalieri Grand Spa Club at Rome Cavalieri, A Waldorf Astoria Hotel, a go-to luxury hotel in the Eternal City for six decades. Atop Monte Mario, removed from the touristic hubbub within a residential area  surrounded by Mediterranean gardens, the swanky resort has the capacity to cajole guests away from sightseeing, offering them, instead indulgent days in the spa  With three heated outdoor pools, an indoor pool with a cascading waterfall, a hydro-massage pool, a Japanese stone walk, Cavalieri Grand Spa Club channels ancient Rome with its large Roman-style amethyst steam room with cold plunge-pool and an ancient Roman-esque relaxation area. Sign up for The Mindfulness Experience, a wellness excursion that begins with a tour of the hotel’s artwork (for aesthetic connection), then continues with an open air horseback tour of Ostia Antica, the largest archeological site in Europe and a yoga practice. A  Natura Bissé Diamond Well-Living Experience massage treatment is the spa day’s coup de gras.