Should I Wear a Bathing Suit? Here’s What to Know Before Stepping Foot in an Italian Spa.

Trentino, Italy – Summer 2019

A spa visit, even in your home country where you understand language and customs, can be an intimidating experience for first-timers. When traveling in a different country, the stress of knowing what to do, and, more importantly, what NOT to do, can negate any sauna’s potential for relaxation.

When you add the struggle most of us puritanical Americans (it’s true!) have in sharing space with strangers, au naturel or nearly so, the lure of even the most luxurious spa can be an anxiety-inducer. Of course, the very essence and reason to travel is to step outside of our comfort zone, explore, expand and aim to understand. In that spirit, Manuela Ianeselli, director of Trentino’s Hotel Alpenrose Wellness Center and Spa, located in a picturesque and mountainous little village named Vattaro, answers a few frequently-asked questions.

Interested in knowing more about spa culture in other countries? Here’s a story I wrote for Intrepid Travel: An Essential Guide for Visiting Hammams in Morocco: 

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Keep in mind, procedures and etiquette standards vary in different regions and from spa-to-spa, but Manuela’s helpful information can serve as a frame of reference, and, hopefully, provide you with the knowledge you need to feel confident, relaxed and fully able to embrace and enjoy every single moment of your spa visit!

*I have edited the English version for clarity and included a few editor’s notes – just for the fun of it.

• Traduzione italiana qui sotto.

q: First, will you tell us a bit about your wellness center and spa at Hotel Alpenrose?

The Alpenrose Wellness Center was created and furnished with natural materials for moments of relaxation dedicated to one’s own psycho-physical well-being. It is approximately 800 square meters divided into two parts, with a 36 ° degree Celsius (96.8 F) heated pool with salt water, four types of sauna: Finnish, 90° C (194 F), aromatherapy at 58° C (136 F), infrared at 36° (96.8 F) and Turkish bath (steam room) at 48° (118 F), plus a herbal tea room with teas, fruit and nuts, and a relaxation zone with water beds. There is an aesthetics area where you can book extra services like massages, face and body treatments, manicures, pedicures and epilations.

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Image courtesy of Hotel Alpenrose Wellness Center and Spa.

The Center is open from 14 to 20 (2 p.m. to 8 p.m.) for adults only. Children with parents can access the pool on Saturday and Sunday morning from 10 a.m. to 12.30 p.m. There are also courses of neonatal aquaticity (from 3 to 12 months) and yoga classes.

q: What should I wear in the spa?

In the Spa, you enter with bathrobe, towel and slippers. The cap is not mandatory but long hair must be secured near the head (ponytail or bun is fine).

In the pool area it is mandatory to wear a bathing suit*, while in saunas it is recommended to enter naked for hygienic reasons. In the Finnish sauna, aromatherapy sauna and infrared zone, you leave slippers outside the room before entering barefoot. To completely absorb the sweat, it is advisable to place a large towel on the benches to sit on so that no part of your body touches the bench**.

Instead in the Turkish bath (steam room), you leave the towel and slippers outside. As you enter, you will see a water hose attached to the wall. Use this to rinse the seating area before you sit down and as you leave. Be mindful not to splash other spa-goers in the room.

*Theatrically called ‘costume da bagno’in Italian.

** Because, hygiene, friends.

q: How long should I stay in each sauna or room?

The amount of time to stay in the saunas, progressing from lowest to highest temperatures*, is always very personal, it is however advised not to exceed 10 minutes. Before going on to the next treatment, always take a refreshing shower or sprinkle your body with ice from the fountain to reactivate circulation.** Enjoy the tea area and relaxation zone for about 15 minutes between each sauna stage to cool the body and avoid light-headedness or fainting. Keep in mind, in the relaxation area, the beds must be left free of personal effects to allow a regular rotation of the people seeking relaxation.

*Begin in the lowest heated room, in this case the infrared sauna and progress up in temperature with 15 minute breaks between rooms.

**For the brave of heart and body, many spas feature buckets of ice-cold water and/or cold plunge zones for the quickest cool down.

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Image courtesy of Hotel Alpenrose Wellness Center and Spa.


q: What are the biggest ‘no-no’’s we should know?


The main rules are:

Speak softly to support a relaxing and respectful environment with other people.

Do not use a mobile phone (you cannot take pictures for privacy).*

Take a shower before entering the indoor pool. In the pool area, you can’t run, play or dive. This area is also considered a relaxation zone.**

It is forbidden to bring drinks or food into any area. Tea and snacks are provided only in the tea room.

Use of the sauna is forbidden to children under 16 years.

*For all that is good in this world, do you not use your phone in the spa, any spa. Plus, it’s best to leave your phone and any valuables in your hotel room, as not all facilities have lockers (and many are steamy to levels not conducive to electronics). 

**Quiet voice, please.

q: What else do we need to know?

We do not recommend the use of saunas in case of fever, epilepsy, heart and circulatory disorders, for people who are sick with the disease, during pregnancy and during the menstrual cycle.

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And, finally, if you will indulge me in one more editor’s note:

In my experience, Europeans are much, much more comfortable and less conscious about body image. They appreciate and accept all shapes, beautifully so. As hard as it may be, try to leave all that worry and self-criticism many of us carry at the spa door.

Take a deep breath, embrace the bareness and…love your body – it brought you here to this point, after all. 


Was this helpful? Have more questions? Feel free to send them my way and I will do my best to get answers.

Per i nostri amici di lingua italiana…

Per chi non parla italiano, visitare una spa in Italia per la prima volta può essere intimidatorio e suscitare molte domande, da dove andare a cosa indossare. Tenete a mente in mente, le pratiche possono variare tra diversi centri e regioni.

Manuela Ianeselli, direttrice del Centro Benessere e Spa dell’Hotel Alpenrose in Trentino risponde a queste domande e molto altro per aiutarci a capire cosa fare e cosa non fare quando si visita una spa in Italia.

Manuela, grazie mille per volerci approfondire la cultura Italiana dei vostri centro benessiere. Iniziamo con la domande che tutti chiedono …

domanda: Per prima cosa, parlaci della tua centro benessere e spa?

Il Centro Benessere Alpenrose è stato creato e arredato con materiali naturali per infondere ai clienti una percezione di benessere e per far trascorrere momenti fantantastici di relax dedicandosi al proprio benessere psico-fisico. Si estende su una superficie di circa 800 mq divisa da due parti, quella umida che comprende piscina riscaldata a 36° gradi con acqua salata , quattro tipi di sauna: finlandese, a 90°, sanarium a 58°, infrarossi a 36°  e bagno turco a 48°,  tisaneria dove si trovano tisane, frutta,fresca e frutta secca e la zona relax con dei lettini ad acqua. Nell’altra parte c’è la zona dell’estetica dove a pagamento si possono  prenotare massaggi trattamenti viso e corpo, epilazioni manicure, pedicure..

Il Centro è aperto dalle 14 alle 20 per soli adulti, i bambini con i genitori possono accedere alla piscina il sabato e la domenica mattina dalle 10 alle 12,30. Vengono organizzati anche dei corsi di acquaticità neonatale ( dai 3 ai 12 mesi) , acquaticità in gravidanza , corsi di yoga e corsi di acqua gin.

Cosa dovrei indossare nella spa? Cosa dovrei sapere prima di visitare una spa in Italia?

Nella Spa si entra con accappatoio, telo e ciabattine. La cuffia non è obbligatoria però bisogna raccogliere i capelli con un elastico se sono lunghi.

Nella zona piscina è obbligatorio l’uso del costume, mentre nelle saune è consigliato entrare nudi per motivi igienici. Nella sauna finlandese , nel sanarium e nella zona infrarossi si entra con il telo lasciando le ciabattine fuori. Per assorbire completamente il sudore è opportuno stendere il telo grande per sedersi sopra le panche, nessuna parte del corpo dovrà toccare direttamente il legno. Invece nel bagno turco si lascia telo e ciabattine fuori e prima di sedersi e alla fine della seduta si risciacqua la panca.

Quanto tempo dovrei rimanere in ogni sauna o stanza?

Il tempo in cui si rimane nelle saune è sempre molto personale, si consiglia comunque di non superare  i 10′ e prima di passare alla successiva farsi sempre una doccia rinfrescante per riattivare la circolazione , oppure cospargersi di ghiaccio che si trova nella apposita fontana e fare una pausa  di almeno 15′ altrimenti la pressione corporea scende provocando talvolta svenimenti.

Nella zona relax si devono lasciare i lettini liberi da effetti personali per consentire una regolare rotazione delle persone che si devono rilassare.

Quali sono i più grandi ‘no-no’ (non si fa)?

Le Principali regole sono:

Parlare sottovoce per mantenere un ambiente rilassante e di rispetto nei confronti delle altre persone

Non utilizzare il cellulare ( per la privacy non si può fotografare)

Fare la doccia prima di entrare in piscina. Nella zona piscina non si può correre, giocare, tuffarsi e spruzzare.

I cibi e le bevande che si trovano nella tisaneria non devono essere portati nella zona saune, piscine e zona relax.

E’ vietato introdurre bibite in contenitori di vetro e lattine

E’ vietata l’uso della sauna ai minori di 16 anni

Si sconsiglia l’uso delle saune in caso di febbre,epilessia,disturbi cardiaci e circolatori, per le persone che presentano malattie contagiose, durante la gravidanza e durante il ciclo mestruale.

 


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