Tuscany areas:Florence Siena Lucca Chianti San Gimignano Arezzo Pisa Versilia Cortona Montecatini Garfagnana
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The town of Montecatini Terme is world famous for its spas, springs and thermal baths. Montecatini Alto is a lovely hilltop village, joined to the main town via a funicular railway. A summer resort, Montecatini (30K east of Lucca) is a wealthy and popular watering-hole lying at the foot of the Pistoian mountains. The baths and spas date back to the fourteenth century and nowadays there are nine fully-functioning 'terme' spread around the town.
Elegant, peaceful and relaxing, they make for perfect resting places. Enjoy a glass of enriched water, or take the plunge for the full treatment ... you'll be in illustrious company. Previous visitors include Rossini, Verdi, Princess Grace, Orson Welles, Clark Gable, Douglas Fairbanks and assorted European royalty. Verdi was particularly taken, searching for eternal youth each year for 25 years.
The suburbs ain't much, but the centre and the Parco delle Terme are delightful, and if designer shopping is your bag (Prada, natch) then you're in for a treat. The Terme Tettucio is perhaps the most famous and is typical of the town's belle-epoque ambience. Built in the style of Imperial Rome, it lies a few minutes walk from the delightful funicular railway that will take you up to Montecatini Alto.
Montecatini Alto is the original Montecatini settlement, lying a few hundred metres above the 'new' town. The views from here are splendid, and the delightful Piazza Giusti is home to some good bars and restaurants.