Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Spa Time

Chianchino Terme's Historic Centre
The final leg of our driving tour of Italy was to get home via one overnight stop in Tuscany. We picked a spa town, Chianchino Terme, just off the freeway and a spa hotel in hopes of getting in some relaxation time. It was almost noon by the time we actually got ready to pull out of the parking garage on the edge of Venice. Not too far down the road was a weird meeting of a number of different exits, and unfortunately, I took the wrong one. In Italy, when you miss your exit or take the wrong exit, it is not a simple matter to get back onto your original path. You cannot just take the next exit and turn around. There are many other roads to travel, hoping you pick the correct one, before being able to once again rejoin the freeway. Back on the freeway and another hour down the road, we came to a dead stop. After some time, we cleared the jam and finally reached Tuscany...and yet another dead stop. My sister, good traveling companion that she is, grabbed her iPhone, somehow navigated to the right spot in an instant and told me to take the exit we were passing. She then directed us down beautiful, winding, Tuscan roads on an enjoyable bypass versus sitting in exhaust fumes. Once again, back on the freeway, and beyond all the traffic, we continued on for awhile, stopped at the Autogrill (Italian version of a truck stop) for food, bathroom breaks, and baby feeding (and while in the car feeding the baby, I watched out the window as some friends drove by - it can be a small world sometimes), then on the road again...and stop...again. This had turned into a never-ending, 3.5 hour drive to Tuscany. Except this stop was different. Dark had fallen as well as rain pouring down, fog set in, and there was no escape from the jam. We crept along for over half an hour, having gone less than 2 miles in the half an hour, before reaching the point where the entire freeway was closed, and police were directing all of us to the same exit.

View from our hotel room windows
My sister was once again quick with her fingers on the magical iPhone, and with only one extra circle of the roundabout, had us redirected and onto the back way to our hotel. We finally reached our hotel, rain was still pouring, and I needed to feed the baby so badly that I didn't think I could even make it the 15 minutes it would take us unload and get into our room. After a 3.5 hour drive turning into a 7 hour drive, all sorts of kerfluffle in getting our room key, getting the baby fed, reorganizing our luggage with the clothes needed for this stay, and getting inside, we were worn out. As it turns out, the freeway was closed due to flooding. After we saw our room, which was a two room suite with picture windows overlooking the Umbrian hills and including two bathrooms, one with a humongous, jacuzzi tub and the other with a massage shower, then checking our rate ($50 each), we promptly went downstairs to find out if we could stay a second night. We needed a day off. I needed a day off of driving. And we had no idea if the freeway would be open by morning since the rain was still pouring.

More historic centre
The next day was a day to enjoy the itty, bitty historic centre of Chianchino Terme, enjoy a delicious lunch at the tiniest cafe but with the grandest of views, and take turns having a spa treatment and then enjoying the hotel's heated, indoor pool, sauna, hot tub, and relaxation room (comfy, leather lounge chairs, fruit, fancy tea, dim lighting - that sort of thing). The spa treatment was nice, but a bit different than I was expecting. I booked a facial. When I showed up for my appointment wearing my swimsuit and the fluffy robe from our room, my esthetician handed me a little, paper triangle with string attached and gestured towards my body, then left the room. Clearly, she wanted me to put the triangle on. But I just wanted a facial, so I was confused. I waited until she returned, then asked to make sure, and yes, I was to remove both top and bottom of my swimsuit and put on the triangle. Then lie on the table. She left again, and I followed her instructions. Then realized the table did not have a blanket. Or a towel. Or any covering whatsoever. For a facial! This was mortifying, but thankfully, the lady gave me a nice, warm blanket when she returned. And the facial was quite nice. Sadly, spending time afterward in the spa center was basically just me killing time because I felt like I should but actually thinking that my niece was visiting for three, short weeks, and I'd rather be spending time with her and Nora. Our stay in the hotel was complete when the next morning at breakfast, a table of three stopped us as we walked by to ask about Nora. One of the questions was her age. When I responded with "two months," one the ladies said, "Ha! I knew it. He thought she was three months, but I said no, she had to be less than three months because you are so big." Well, thank you. Thank you so much.
Even Baby Nora gets a spa treatment, a manicure by Auntie

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