Classicists will appreciate Aquae Calidae (Latin for ‘hot water’) – a contemporary interpretation of the ancient Roman baths in Milan, which takes you through the ancient and now fashionable ritual of hot-cold therapy. Roman-like indulgence is also encouraged (the motto is ‘Salus et Otium’ – ‘health and idleness’) but of course it’s minus the bacchanalia and plus super-modern architecture.
Get into character with a muslin toga in the Apodyterium (changing room), then slip into the Balneae Pensiles (shower rooms) to wash under rain showers. The Tepidarium is a Roman forum-like hall in travertine marble heated to 36°C, with tiered steps around a central fountain.
It’s not quite milk baths and peeled grapes, but artful bowls of dried fruit and the restorative sound of running water capture the mood. Next is a 15-minute massage and Adriatic sea-salt scrub by a Tractator (masseur), followed by the 50°C Calidarium, a steam room that’s scented with eucalyptus in the winter, fruits in the summer.
The Frigidarium is not so much a plunge pool but an icemaker than churns out crushed ice that you voluntarily rub over yourself – quite literally a refresher in classical civilization.