The sauna ‘cold’ atmosphere in Valle D’Aosta

I wear only my bathsuit and I’m half-immersed in the SPA external pool, all the people are relaxing, holding a flute of champagne and listening to the lounge music the speakers are diffusing in the air. It should be normal in a Spa centre, right?

You could say so, but this is not the right case, because the external temperature is 4 degree under the zero and all the surroundings are covered with snow. We are in Pre-Saint-Didier, a little mountain town in one of the most important Skiing centre of Italy: the Valle D’aosta region.

Hundreds of kilometers of sky tracks attracts brave skier every year, especially in January and February where the two local sky implants, La Thuile and La Rosiere, are filled by the multiple snowfall occurring almost everyday. With my family I decided to take six days of break from all our studying and working, enjoying some funny hour between the snow.

We have come here every year since I was ten and I thought that nothing was still hidden between these mountains that I didn’t have found. I was wrong, totally.

The second day during a walking in the town I started to see people emerging from water in their bathsuit. The first thing that passed through my mind was: “they should be crazy”. After a bit the confusion left space to a will of knowledge about what push mens and womens, not young at all, at risking their life by bathing with such temperature. That’s how I knew the Pre-Saint-Didier termal centre existence.

The Pré-Saint-Didier thermal springs were already known to the Romans, but it was only during the mid 1600s that they started to become a profitable activity, thanks to the first visitors who came to this beautiful valley to “take the waters”. This is how tourism originated in Valle d’Aosta. The Spa reached its period of greatest splendour between the beginning of the 19th century and the first half of the 20th century. The building of the Spa dates back to 1834, while in 1888 the Casino opened its doors right next door. For over 150 years the Spa was one of the major attractions of the Valley, hosting illustrious names and turning into the Italian Royal Family’s favourite holiday resort.

“So it wasn’t something just opened, it was a pleasure point existing from centuries that has been used since the Romans period,” the gentle receptionist explained us when we entered to apply for an afternoon of treatment in the Spa. The price was not so bad at all: 39 euros for the permanence after the 2 until the close of the center, at around 9.

What was best for a skier after returning from a destroying skying day, in which the long and complex tracks had tried sorely my walking ability and all my leg muscles? Everyone deserves it, after the business, the pleasure. And what pleasure: the number of treatment to get from the packet is enormous: the classical sauna and vapour breathing room are present, but around them are several more modern way of relaxing and wellness, from all over the world.

The Scottish shower is the more rude one: just two buckets of icy water and hot water, to try one after the other to create a better blood circulation. There are for sure better way to obtain the same results in the spa, much more pleasant, so I think I will pass this time.

Simply amazing is the first word that passes in my mind when I try the ‘emotional pool’. Think to float in a pool where all around you can hear relaxing music. It’s some kind of experience making you regress to your birth remember, with the same feeling of safety and relax of our mother protection.

If your idea of relax is connected with doing absolutely nothing, the spa centre come to you with the 4 relaxing room, each one crafted recalling the four element they take their name from: fire, water, wind and earth. Imagine sitting in the rocking chairs shaped as enormous beans, while all around you there all only clouds made in cotton. Just like heaven.

The relaxing room are made for a solitary and meditative pleasure, but there are plenty of places to enjoy a simple chat with a friend and, why not, also with a stranger. The best place to do this is the big outside thermal pool in which is held a daily party with flutes of champagne and lounge music. Talking immersed in the water while seeing around the St Bernard Mountain chains covered by the white snow or all the skier returning from a hard day of speeding descents and climbing give you a strange feeling.

If you are brave enough, why don’t try for some long minutes a walking outside the pool wearing only your bathsuit to reach the external sauna huts? Put a foot in the snow heaps all around, the feeling of their coldness with the heat of your body after the hot thermal water will give you the strangest sensation ever felt. It’s just the nature, with a little bit of help by the man, creating a modern masterpiece.

The staff offers others services, apart from the ones explained until now. First of all I have to spent some words on the afternoon snack: losing the bad toxins in sauna or sleeping in waterbed in the water room can easily make hungry also the strongest man, so why don’t have a pause all with healthy foods? Fruits and yogurt, without forgetting that bit of gluttony that is hidden in everyone with different toppings such as cream or chocolate (naturally without conservatives, additives or saturated fat, they think of you!). I’m not a really healthy eater, I love chips and burger and despite all I loved that foods, it’s so much natural  and sometimes it’s good to detoxicate your poor stomach from the junk food we eat everyday.

In addition there are the classic service of a Spa: the massage. That’s totally another world. The chocolate or cream massage therapy is based on using a tasty and smelling compress instead of the oil, the temptation of biting myself was very strong, I have to admit. Some of the massage activities are made in group of few people, just after have enrolled at the reception. The only advice is to be quick, they are booked in a short time!

You will say: “But March is almost finished, with the closing of the skying implants, will close also the thermal centre for the limited number of customers” Wrong. Valle D’Aosta is a place crowded of tourists also when the snow starts to melt down in the late April, because it discloses hundreds of kilometers of beautiful tracks and mountain wall for climbing and beautiful landscapes lovers, who wants to enjoy the surrounding nature.

The premise is opened all the year, permitting people to escape the stressful everyday routine and enjoy some minutes of rest and enjoyment far from every bad thoughts. Maybe there won’t be the snow around, but the atmosphere is still thrilling.What are you waiting for?

More information are available at the Pre-Saint-Didier thermal centre website

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