Wellness in Merano
In 1836 an Austrian physician described Merano in the Italian Tyrol as ‘The city of cures’. But a stop in Merano can be enjoyed by anybody, regardless of their health.
I might as well admit that I have never been on a real “wellness holiday”. At least not when wellness means thermal therapy, mud baths, massage, detoxication and other treatments that promises to revive, refresh and restore you physical and mental well-being. I have, however, been to one of the wellness capitals of Italy and discovered loads of things that made me smile and feel a whole lot better.
History and the cure
Merano in Trentino-Alto Adige gained it reputation as a city of cures thanks to the therapeutic benefits of the air, and to begin with the European aristocracy visited the city in order to alleviate respiratory diseases. Much later, in the 1950s, the radon rich springs were discovered outside the city, and spas and thermal baths were set up as treatment for common diseases such as psoriasis, dermatitis, poor circulation, respiratory infections, digestive system disorders and rheumatic diseases. And these days fitness, hiking, biking, slightly extreme sports and other kinds of physical exercise have been added to the wellness menu. Along with exquisite food and wine festivals.
A stroll along the Passirio River will take you from the old stone bridge to the centre of town where you will see the elegant art nouveau Kursaal conference hall and theater side by side with a massive wellness park of outdoor and indoor thermal spas. Last time we were there, an outdoor gourmet event had people seated for a tasting menu introduced by the chefs and served by black tie waiters. I still regret we had not managed to get tickets.
Eating and shopping
The Rainer Restaurant in Via Portici was not half bad either. They serve a swinging plate full of the local speck with cheese and small pickled gherkins as antipasto. And afterwards it is a treat to go for a little retail therapy in the narrow street and feast the eyes on local variations in spirits, pasta and sausages. I marvel over the wrought iron sign of an art and antiques shop and the traditional handicraft figurines that may be woodwork, clay or cartepesta for all I know.
By the main church just before the city starts climbing up the mountain side towards Passo Giovo, Saint Nicholas wags an admonishing finger as if to warn us against too much self-indulgence. And the church tower keeps two clocks as a reminder that the world keeps turning, while we spoil ourselves rotten in a timeless wellness haven.
But for as long as it lasts anyone can find wellness in Merano.