How I Came to Make a Film in Italy

BLOG #3 DAY 2.  JUNE 11, 2015

Those who know me well, know that I enjoy a good swim in a hotel pool  (whether I’m a guest there or not..oops)  Perhaps not the most kosher of my habits but why would Italy be any exception?

I’d noticed that the Grand Hotel (across the street from the Hotel Columbia) had a lovely large pool and slipped in for a morning swim.  

I spied some nattily dressed Italian policeman (carabinieri )outside the hotel but fortunately my trespassing went unnoticed. 

The pool was cold but invigorating and I was now sufficiently awake for my next adventure but still needed caffeine!

Grabbed a cappuchino at a local bar (consumed standing , less expensive than getting a table…and learned that cappuccinos are not to be ordered after 11 a.m.) then walked through town to catch the funicular to Montecantini Alta!

I took the funicular car named Gigia (there’s a second car Gigio, both once simply known as Number 1 and Number 2) It’s a unique and characteristic transportation method which clearly hasn’t lost its charm since its inauguration on June 4, 1898, witnessed by Giuseppe Verdi himself!

Riding on one of the red cars with wooden benches, on the way up I was surrounded by lush growth and wild poppies and once in the town, I was amazed at the quaint town square, beautiful villas and intoxicating smell of jasmine.

Montecatini Alto, a medieval town set on two hills, does offer some historical sites.  

On one side you will find the Rocca di Castello Vecchio, the Church of St. Peter (the original church of Montecatini) and the Tower of Campanaria. On the opposite hill you will find the Torre dell’Orologio and the Church of the Carmine in a distinct Baroque style.

I wandered a bit, then had lunch al fresco overlooking a Tuscan valley  straight out of a Renaissance landscape painting. There was  light rain shower so in hopes of warming up tried the famous Tuscan bread soup, Ribollito. 

Maybe my gluten intolerance had just started kicking in  but this  – soggy bread and vegetables -wasn’t my favorite Tuscan meal.  However, it was followed by  a cup of Tuscan hot chocolate – cioccolata caldo – that was so rich it was like eating warm chocolate ice cream. Yum!  That was a favorite.

Feeling full and ready to explore some more, took Gigia back down into Montecantini Terme and did some shopping in an open air market.  Discovered some great Tuscan printed tablecloths for 5 euros and picked up several for Christmas presents.


I’m a big fan of matinees and was back in time to catch a 4:00 pm showing of Sin City with Bruce Willis – in Italian with no subtitles.   Although I don’t speak Italian I was able to follow the plot as the visuals told the story. 

Dinner time!  And wanted to try a local dish -ravioli with walnut truffle cream sauce -I ventured to Ristorante da Lorenzo popular with locals and very well reviewed. .

This is dish was as divine as it sounds and so so rich –  6 raviolis and a small salad were a feast!

A stroll around the town to wear off a bit of the walnut cream sauce, now fully satisfied and filled with all the experiences at Montecantini it was off to bed for the next adventure…..Florence!


The Art of Acting – Italy Acting Retreat


I was thankful for the small gym in the hotel, and after an early workout on the treadmill and a light breakfast at the Panoramic, I was ready to explore this lovely spa town.

First stop – Terme Tettuccio

Tettuccio is one of several spas set in a park inside the town of Montecatini Terme. The Tettuccio spring is on the property; the name Tettuccio refers to the little roof found over the spa’s source when the spa was being built to its modern configuration.

 The therapeutic properties of the waters in this area were already known about in Roman times, and many of these spas are built in Art Nouveau style. Il Tettuccio – one of the first establishments – is regarded as the symbol of the town.

 Known for their curative powers—and, at least once upon a time, for their great popularity among the wealthy—the mineral springs flow from five sources and are taken for a variety of ailments, including liver and skin disorders.


Those “taking the cure” report each morning to one of the town’s stabilimenti termali (thermal establishments) to drink their prescribed cupful of water. Afterward, guests can enjoy a leisurely breakfast, read the newspaper, recline and listen to music, or walk in the parks that surround these grand old spas.

I decided to taste (for 6 euros) one of these curative waters – and had the following four to choose from

  • Leopoldina Waters – “indicated for the treatment of chronic constipation. Normal bowel function is generally restored whenever treatment cycles are spaced at 4/6 month intervals.”
  • Regina Waters – “restores a regular bile flow from the liver to the bowels and are useful in the case of hepatic and bladder disorders.”
  • Tettuccio Waters – “effective in the depurative process of the liver, and can help reduce cholesterol levels.”
  • Rinfresco Waters – The “diuretic waters favor the process of waste elimination through the urinary system as well as the restoration of normal saline levels after prolonged sports activities.”

I decided on the Rinfresco as that sounded like it would have the least possible after effects (I didn’t want to spoil my trip with a regular bile flow (!) or mess with the depurative process of my liver (whatever that means:) –

The rinfresco water was god awful….warm, really salty, strong strong mineral taste.  The only effect I noticed was that it made me tired and thirsty.  Didn’t notice any diuretic properties, I mostly swelled up, particularly around my eyes!  Maybe you need to do it for 12 days in a row as suggested, but not an experience I wished to repeat.

But the spa itself (which only offers the waters, no spa treatments) is beautiful – romanesque buildings with gorgeous frescoes

and tuxedo clad musicians playing Puccini !

Being sleepy wasn’t too much of a problem as next stop was a mineral bath and hot stone massage at the hotel. 

Quite divine, a truly relaxing experience (evidenced by the nap immediately after), then enjoyed a quiet dinner at the Panoramic and a second night’s deep and restful sleep.