As we veer off the highway, the landscape becomes green and mountainous. Following the curves of the road, my husband Marco points out the path that the old tram used to take to bring passengers here from Rome. We’re only about 60 kilometers from the city, but we’re deep in the heart of rural Ciociaria, one of the most under-the-radar areas in Italy.
The name Fiuggi may not ring any bells for the average person, but the town has drawn wellness seekers for centuries thanks to its mineral spring. (Pope Boniface VIII and Michelangelo were fans.) The pure, mineral-rich water is renowned as a diuretic with the power to cure kidney stones. So it’s no wonder that the Grand Hotel Palazzo della Fonte sprung up there in 1913.
King Vittorio Emanuele III sojourned at the hotel with the Italian royal family in 1914 and in the 1930s, it hosted luminaries like Pablo Picasso, Eleonora Duse, Enrico Caruso, and Gabriele d’Annunzio.
When Forte Hotels took over the property in 2018, they not only rebranded it as Palazzo Fiuggi and restored the building to its original glory, but also took it a step farther, transforming it into one of the best medical spas in the world. People come from all over the globe for their programs aimed at weight loss, longevity and aging naturally, detoxing, and boosting the immune system.
'The spa measures 6,000 square meters. It’s the largest spa in Europe,’ the wellness concierge Claudia says, as she leads us down a white marble hallway toward the Roman baths. We stop to drink from the Fountain of Life, whose water is drawn from the town’s mineral spring.
But before I can begin relaxing, I have a medical visit. I meet with one of the doctors to discuss the objectives of my stay. I tell him I would like to lose some weight and, though I’m only there for two nights, he asks me if I’d like to try their ‘Optimal Weight’ program. All the menus are designed by Michelin-starred chef Heinz Beck and calibrated with specific calorie and protein counts.
The property has a no alcohol and no coffee policy. Instead, we drink water served in a decanter with VitaJuwel crystals and finish meals with herbal tea served from an elegant cart displaying an array of blends meant to aid digestion or promote restful sleep, among other benefits.
I only have one full day here and I want to take advantage of everything the spa has to offer. So, after waiting an hour to digest our breakfast, my husband and I head to the spa, where we soak and steam and swim. Everything is optimized for maximum wellness – whether that’s a thalassotherapy pool enriched with salt and magnesium or an infrared sauna.
ICAROS: a virtual reality experience aimed at core strength training.
As I move into the Finnish sauna, I take a moment to stare out the glass windows, seeing a medieval town perched on a hill just across the green and mountainous valley. The rural location makes it feel all the more relaxing – like we’ve left the world behind for a day.
The other activities on my agenda are a session with ICAROS, a virtual reality experience aimed at core strength training, a binaural sound therapy session, and an aromatherapy massage.
But before heading home, we take a trip up to the medieval part of Fiuggi. We wander the narrow cobblestone lanes, stumbling upon old stone buildings adorned with plants and a charming little restaurant with firewood stacked outside and a rustic setup with half-melted candles dripping wax down old wine bottles.
I feel lighter and more relaxed – and the scale agrees. Is it a miracle or the effect of an impeccably designed wellness program? A little bit of both, I suspect.
Imagine breezing into one of the world’s most exclusive spas for a complimentary treatment. Or sitting down for a consultation with industry-leading practitioners and experts. You’ll feel your best inside and out with a Quintessentially membership – find out more here.