The hottest spot, close to the aquamarine-coloured underground lake of bubbling water, is referred to as “hell”. A few metres away is the not so steamy “purgatory” and cooler again, but still a sweat-inducing corner, is “paradise”.
The grotto was discovered by chance in 1849 by quarry workers who moved a huge rock and found steam pouring from the cavity. They plucked up courage to climb inside and were awe struck by the out-of-this-world surroundings.
Natural steam bath
One of those who finally emerged claimed his aching joints had miraculously disappeared and soon, crowds were flocking to the spot to enjoy the revitalising “steam bath” laid on by nature.
You take a quick dip in the thermal pool before heading underground, dressed in the cool cotton tunic provided with a hooded woollen robe to keep the beneficial vapours in.
After an hour or so, you head off for a blast from hydro-massage experts who hose you down to make you feel spine-tingling good.
The mud treatment is something different too as specialists smear layers of the soft clay over your back, arms and legs then wrap you in a fine muslin sheet to bake your bones for twenty minutes at a steady 27C. Afterwards, there’s another hose down with powerful bursts from the jets freeing the heat-caked crust from your skin.
It’s a blast!
The restaurant too, is very different to what you will find in the average Tuscan town where calories are simply not of concern to the chef. Here, the emphasis is firmly on healthy diet and nutrition designed to make you feel better without adding to your waistline.
The walks on Cypress tree-lined paths that thread through across the hillside behind the property and back again are exhilarating and even on the hottest day, refreshing with wafts of mountain Thyme, Rosemary and Sage carried on the slightest breeze.
At the nearby Monticatini Golf Club, the hilltop location, with panoramic views of classic Tuscan countryside through rows of olive trees, is bonus enough. Who cares what the numbers add up to on the scorecard after playing a round in such perfectly sublime surroundings.
The 18-hole course is just one of many to be enjoyed in Tuscany, providing another great escape in the hills where Leonardo da Vinci liked to take a stroll.
To find out more or book a treatment or stay, check out the www.grottagiustispa.com website