Grand Hotel Terme della Fratta, located in Bertinoro, Italy, was originally built in the 1930s. After a facelift in 2005, it reopened, while maintaining the historical neoclassical facade. Located within a thirty-two acre heavily forested park, there are seven thermal springs to explore. It’s a true hotel and wellness retreat, where you can indulge all of your senses with beauty treatments, massages, sports, and world-class cuisine. There are expert physicians on staff if you want to include a physical exam or long term treatment program into your spa experience.
Emilia Romagna is an area known for thermal spas, and there are twenty-six in total including Terme della Fratta. In Italy, it is quite popular to take a vacation at one of these spa retreats. Most are located in a beautiful wilderness park where you can also enjoy nature and outdoor activities.
I have read widely about the healing properties of thermal waters and was very interested in experiencing this myself. After all, skin is the largest organ of the human body! As a professional makeup artist I’m always on the lookout for treatments to rejuvenate the skin. Additionally, mineral springs contain high amounts of negative ions, which can improve feelings of psychological well-being. In my opinion, this can only be a benefit for the overall appearance of your skin.
After a brief tour of the very large and elegant hotel reception area, we went downstairs for a welcome apertivo and antipasta. I don’t think I’ve ever been to a spa in the US that serves prosecco – my kind of place! Here is also where guests are given their spa kits: a robe, towel, swim cap, slippers, and locker key – everything except your bathing suit is provided.
Once in our bathing costumes, we were guided through what is called the Harmony of Nature route, beginning with a hydro walkway.
Exactly what is a hydro walkway? It is a circular path, where you step down into a rather narrow pool that is about waist deep. It’s divided in the center by a beautiful glass water wall. The first side you immerse yourself in icy cold water and walk to the end about twenty feet, and emerge at the end of it. You then enter the other side which is warm, like a sauna. You basically just make the loop for about 5 – 10 minutes going from cold to hot. The health benefit is improved circulation. The thought of willingly plunging into frigid water was not my idea of a good time. My best advice is don’t think too much about it, just do it. It actually becomes quite pleasurable once you get used to it. I didn’t want to come out.
After the hydro walk, we went to the big thermal pool, modeled after a classical Roman bath. Basically, it looks like a huge free form swimming pool, and the water smells a lot like salt water. There are plenty of nice teak lounge chairs around the perimeter for relaxing, and beautiful ambient lighting.
The water here comes from underground springs and is naturally extremely hot, but somehow they control the temperature. Thermal water is full of minerals which are reputed to heal the joints and increase the flow of oxygen-rich blood throughout the body and nourish the organs. The pool has built in beds with massage jets (heavenly), a sort of whirlpool or hot tub also with jets, two waterfalls, and a rain shower. The waterfall is really intense. If you can, imagine a Sumo wrestler massaging you – that’s kind of what the force of the water is like. You have to position yourself in just the right place for the water to massage your neck and shoulders. Once you find the perfect spot you won’t want to move!
Another thermal pool is the sulphur water – surprisingly, it didn’t smell at all. I was especially interested in trying this one, because it’s said to be great for the skin with properties for healing dermatitis, psoriasis, and the other skin issues. I’m sure one would need multiple exposures to the water for long term effects, but I noticed my skin was really nice for a couple of days afterwards. I can’t help it, it’s the makeup artist in me.
Unfortunately I was not staying in the hotel there, and was only able to experience the spa life for a few hours, but I’d love to go back. The beautiful Italian countryside and the peaceful environment of the hotel would be a welcome change from touring around the more crowded tourist sites and monuments in Italy. I think this could be a really wonderful core around which to build a relaxing vacation in Emilia Romagna – and experience the local cuisine and culture, as well.
If you choose not to base your stay here, you can still enjoy a spa day for as little as 40 euros. This will give you entrance to all the amenities I have shared.
For more information about Grand Hotel Terme della Fratta and the full menu of services and activities available in the area, visit their website.
Have you ever been to a thermal spa? Would you plan a vacation around staying in one of these wellness retreats?