Bagni di Lucca has been famous for its healing waters for centuries. There were a dozen operating spas at one time but most are no longer in use. Some have been restored and are waiting to open.
Jean Verraud spa at Bagni Caldi, above Ponte a Serraglio, is open for business as it has been for centuries.
Elisa Bacciocchi, when she was princess of Lucca in the early 1800s, liked to visit Bagni di Lucca to “take the waters”.
She built a new spa above the two natural steam grottoes and very little has changed since then. An extra wing has been added, but the rooms in the old building look just as they did back in Bagni di Lucca’s heyday.
Before the Casino at Ponte a Serraglio was built there were gambling rooms at the spa. Now they are used for events.
The small steam grotto was the personal steam grotto of Napoleon’s sister Pauline. It is big enough for just 2 or 3 people.
The larger grotto holds more people.
When you enter the steam area you are given a towel to wrap yourself in and you are lead to the grotto where you can sit for up to 20 minutes. Then you are taken upstairs to the quaint room with double vaulted ceilings where you lie in one of the beds wrapped in blankets to relax and come back to a normal temperature.
There is another room where you can rest before going on to other treatments if you wish.
It is fun to sit in the steam filled rooms and contemplate who might have been there before you.
Go to the Jean Verraud website for much more information.
Phone (39) 0583 87221
You can also get this treatment more economically on the italian national health through your doctor if you are a local resident.
Lucky local residents.
What a beautiful place! Have you (or Francis) availed yourself of the treatment?
I have been to the grotto a couple of times. It is fun and you feel great afterwards.
Thanks, Debra. Great photos! It is great to see that the facilities are being restored and improved as they are a great asset for Bagni di Lucca. As Francis rightly says, the facilities are available to residents through the Italian National Health. I have a neighbor who suffers from a chronic condition and she is regularly sent there for treatments, which do work!!! It is amazing to watch her before and after these. The one who started these public services was the Great Contessa, Matilda di Canossa, who suffered a nasty fall from her horse and was treated at the Bagni (di Corsena) at the time. She even had the Ponte Della Maddalena built to make the crossing of the river easier. Gambling in Bagni is also linked to this. The Lucca government allowed gambling in Bagni after the death of the Great Contessa, to be able to continue financing the treatments that she used to pay out of her own pocket, for pilgrims and the poor.
The baths have a long and prestigious list of patrons throughout the centuries, including Fallopious, Michel de Montaigne and more than half of Europe’s royalty and aristocracy. A 19th Century journalist used to say: ” In Bagni di Lucca you are knee-deep in Royal Highnesses”
The last big promoter of the baths and Bagni di Lucca, was a French industrialist (he also established an important tannin industry in Bagni and the Garfagnana) called Jean Varraud. Unfortunately, he died prematurely in 1926. We do need another Jean Varraud!
We need another Jean Verraud to save his house…Villa Fiori is in a sad state.
The pictures are great, love the staircases and the bigger grotto. The place looks fresher and nicer than I remember. Interesting details everywhere, did you get the grand tour?!
Perhaps it has had a coat of paint. I wandered alone, but I did meet the charming director and Virgilio who is a local history buff. I am hoping for lots of new info.
Great post–thanks for sharing. Love the history Mulino offered in his comment. 🙂
MD is a wonderful source of information. She knows lots about Bagni di Lucca.
Whoops–‘she’, sorry! 🙂
Now you’re talking…
Oh holy moses! I love the terme…treatments…whatever you want to call it…..looks fab!
Perhaps a visit to the grotto is just what I need while battling these darn allergies! Thanks for an inside look.
A ‘must treat’ for my wife and daughter in the summer. Can it be reached by foot from Ponte?
For some reason i’ve always thought it was just above the Bridge Hotel?
You can walk from Ponte. Go past the Bridge Hotel, walk up the hill past Bernabo and keep going. Just past Villa Talenti, a large yellow building, you will go through an arch and the Terme is on the right up an incline. It is about a 10 minute walk.