If you go to a hotel in Italy they might tell you there is a Spa for hotel guests and sometimes it is available to day visitors. A Spa in Italy is a relaxing area where soft music plays and the lighting is dim. They will offer all kinds of treatments from massages to manicures and you will hopefully come away feeling relaxed and recharged to start your busy working week.
SpA after the name of a company in Italy stands for Società per azioni, which is like a shareholders' company, but when it is written Spa it is definitely a haven of tranquillity and peace.
There is a town in Belgium called Spa which might claim the origin of the word, but in Italy it is considered to be an acronym for Salute Per Acqua. This means health through water.
The Romans knew all about health through water and we are lead to believe they spent a lot of time frolicking about in spa water baths getting up to all sorts of mischief.
In modern Italy these are called Terme, like a thermal bath.
Bubbling away under the Italian soil there are many sources of rich sulphurous water and visiting a place where this is on offer makes for a great day out.
If you can convince your doctor that your health would benefit from a trip to a Terme you might be lucky enough to get some treatments free.
Every Terme will cure some ailment from dodgy knees to asthma.
Yesterday none of that was on people's minds as they enjoyed the sun in Sirmione's beautiful public spa or Terme.
The moment you enter you feel at peace, the staff are all so welcoming and kind, the bang up to date technology means that you only need the plastic bracelet they give you when you are inside.
You are given a soft white towelling robe and a towel, a natty red and white striped bathing hat. All you need to take is a swimming costume and a pair of flip flops, and suntan lotion. Then for five hours you can enjoy the water, the Jacuzzis, the sunbeds, the olive groves, the stunning view of the lake. You can have a cappuccino or spritz on the terrace, have the dish of the day or salad or sandwiches, pizza, cakes and a bottle of prosecco.
You can have a sauna overlooking the lake, a Turkish bath, a Roman bath, sit in a wooden cabin breathing in eucalyptus and mint.
If this all gets too much you can stagger up a flight of stairs and enjoy the ample multisensorial area. This is divided into zones, Salt, water, sky, Stars to name a few. All the while you can sip on the Tisana del giorno in unlimited quantities, ours was Goji berries.
When your five hours is up and you are dressed and ready to go home all you do is hand in your watch and pay for your drinks and pizza.
Walk slowly back through Sirmione maybe have an ice cream on the way or a Spritz in one of its many pretty piazzas, or take the little train to the Roman ruins and learn all about Catullo.
At the entrance to Sirmione there is often a cart selling what look like enormous knobbly lemons, and are called cedri. You can have a refreshing drink or take them home. Then at the car park you get a discount if you have had a stamp from the Terme di Sirmione to prove you've been there, if your relaxed attitude and red face isn't enough.
|Everyone looks the same wearing red and white hats and white dressing gowns, like the Romans in their togas|
|Just the place for your morning cappuccino or evening Spritz|
|The lighting in the evening adds a magical feel|
|Infinity pool +lake+sky|
|thirst quenching cedri juice|
|Stars, just one of the places to relax|
|Salt, another one|