I haven’t updated in a while. I wish I could say it’s because I’ve been busy lying on beaches or sipping wine in picturesque Tuscan towns (really must get off Instagram), but the reality is less glamorous. I’ve been swamped in work, writing and proofreading countless SEO articles on super glue, and dealing with some health issues. This year has been my introduction to the Italian health system – a post for another day.
I also need to write about Rome’s rubbish crisis, and how people are literally wading through filth and setting bins on fire, but first, let’s start with something more positive. I don’t want this blog to turn into a cynical expat blog. A bit of balance…
I spent my Sunday here, and am feeling a hundred times better for it. I’m also delighted to have found a beach alternative. I love going to the beach, but getting to a decent beach from Rome can be an ordeal (especially with public transport, and especially on a Sunday).
So, if it’s 37 degrees and you want to swim in clean, cold water without having to sit in traffic, spend hours looking for a parking space, or deal with train/bus timetables? The Terme di Roma are the answer.
If you’ve ever endured the Cotral bus from Rome to Tivoli, you’ll have passed a huge, bland hotel called the Victoria Terme Hotel. If you’re prepared to pay (more on that later), you can use the hotel’s complex of thermal pools. There’s a spa too, though we didn’t use that, because unfortunately, even with the sales of my novel and the earnings from my super glue articles, we can’t afford both pool and spa. One day…
All right, let’s get the cost out of the way. It’s the only real downside of a day at the terme. It’s €14/17 per person just to enter. €5 for a sun bed. €25 for an umbrella! Granted, they’re really big umbrellas, but it still seems extortionate. If you don’t want to pay, you can grab a bit of shade under the palms, and make do with a towel on the grass. However, if you’re paying €17 just to enter, I’d argue that you might as well make a day of it – pay a bit extra and be comfortable.
Our friend Eleonora predicted that there would be “una pipinara di gente” (a lot of people). There certainly was a pipinara, but the complex is so big, with so many pools, that it didn’t feel too crowded. Of course, the ideal would be to go on a weekday, but if that’s not an option, weekends are bearable. The range of pools also means that you can avoid children, if that’s your preference. Families tend to stick to the shallower pools.
We arrived at about 11:30, and discovered that the umbrella we’d booked was no longer available, so we were moved to another pool area. The bagnino reassured us that this was “the VIP area, where Mussolini used to go”. Firstly, I bet he just made that up, and secondly, even if it were true, would that really be a selling point?
But once we were settled under our giant luxury umbrella, we were happy. We spent the next six hours going back and forth between the sun loungers and the sulphur pools:
From the website:
The waters from the Acque Albule spring are sulphurous and hypothermal. They retain the name that was given to them back in ancient times due to their whitish colour (from the Latin word “albula” = chalky-white coloured water), caused by the gaseous emulsion that forms on the surface when there is a decrease in pressure, releasing the dissolved carbon dioxide and hydrogen sulphide from the water. Water arrives at the spa from Lakes Regina and Colonnelle, north of Via Tiburtina, at a speed of 3,000 litres per second. The mineral water maintains a constant temperature of 23°C throughout the year. Chemical analyses in the 19th century confirmed the therapeutic capacity of the Acque Albule waters. We now know that sulphur is a powerful natural antibacterial ingredient with major anti-inflammatory effects.
(If only the solution to my health issues were simply spending time in the pool, instead of a bewildering array of medication and tests. Can I have a prescription for the terme please?)
The Terme di Roma are just a short drive from Rome (about 25 minutes), and there’s plenty of parking. You can also take the Cotral bus, which departs from Ponte Mammolo metro station, or the train from Tiburtina station, which takes 30 minutes.
For more suggestions on surviving the summer in Rome, here are a couple of old posts: