Famous for its Chianti and Sangiovese if you truly want to live like a king (or queen) you’ll take the water with royalty in Tuscany.
The monarchs of Europe, showbiz royalty, romantic poets and the elite of classical music have been coming to Italy for centuries.
They’d lie about, sip the salty curatives and do what they did best and create.
TV host Ellen Coughlan has made it her mission to have her name carved into the stones of the VIPs who have visited.
From Puccini to Caruso to Grace Kelly to more.
The full Montecatini
The first thing that strikes you about Ellen is how healthy and vibrant she is and how little need she would have for a termal spa.
Yes, that’s the other thing… that as a gúna-wearing cailín (a dress-wearing lass) she naturally drops the ‘h’.
Czech out the Bohemains too
And she’ll experience King Edward VII’s bath (check) in Marianske Lazne, listening to the Singing Fountain (tick) in Frantiskovy Lazne.
And has a licence to thrill at the James Bond Casino Royale (check), the Grandhotel Pupp in Karlovy Vary.
But first it’s Montecatini Terme which like many old Italian towns comes as a pair.
And has an alto hilltop town, like Bergamo.
The Grand Tour
There are plenty of old Grand Tour touchpoints.
Stunning architecture, renaissance art and music.
And fountains and taps obvs for your water.. and 500+ toilette!
Montecatini boasts too its own postcode and post office in its writing house.
Where you can only imagine Byron and Shelley wrote home of their exploits.
This being Italy there’s always exotic travel, and the transport I always levitate to… a funicular.
In this case two red ones much beloved of Guiseppe Verdi (or Joe Green to you and me) take the 1770m journey.
Fun on the funicular
It’s not just the funicular train that takes the strain.
Back down in Terme there are masseurs in hand to ease your knots.
While you can detoxify from your liquid lunch in the hot and cold walking pools and bicycle jacuzzis (si si).
And with that Ellen was off to Acqui Terme to continue her near 3,000km road trip around the seven towns on her odyssey.
On the road again
Before checking in (soz) at my favourite Spa Triangle and Frantiskove Lazne, Karlovy Vary and Marianske Lazne.
And then Germany and Baden-Baden and Wiesbaden.
So that now you’ve taken the water with royalty in Tuscany you can sample the rest of what Ellen’s Grand Tour has to offer.