The saying goes: a summer body is built in the winter. If, however, a season of BBQs and beers has left your body’s balance sheet needing hours on the treadmill to break even, it might be time to take yourself a little further afield. Emilia Romanga, the birthplace of Technogym (check your gym treadmill next time you’re in the gym, it’s likely made by them), is the world’s first officially recognized ‘wellness region’. Now the area in the north of Italy is complimenting its medieval cities and seaside resorts with the facilities to make it a hub for anyone who’s looking to come back from a holiday in better shape than when they left.
Here’s MH’s lowdown of the wellness valley.
Serious cyclists will likely pass Emilia Romagna by, on their way to the more challenging Col Agnel, but if your bottom half doesn’t yet double as a drive train, the region’s nature reserves, leading into the Apennines, will serve as a satisfying leg day. Depending on where you stay, cycle routes will also take you through UNESCO world heritage sites and Roman ruins (Ferrara Raven and Modena), guaranteeing a better view than the inside of a squat rack, too.
Rising from your sunlounger for a dip in the Adriatic is fine but away from the beach towels, the region offers a more interesting way to get wet: wild swimming. The Pietra Pazza river serves the Bidente-Ronco river and in its path has carved out pools, streams and waterfalls that serve as both literal and metaphorical jumping off points for river swimming. Bring that towel but not your best trainers, for obvious reasons.
Take a rest day
The volcanic region of Italy has more than just mountains to climb and rivers to swim. Beneath the rocks lie 26 separate hot springs that serve up salt water, healing mud and sulphurous baths that will help restore you. At Cervia Spa you can float like a dead man, post workout, in the saltiest pool in Europe. Just remember not to swallow.
Rimini, a seaside town positioned on the Adriatic, is full of incredibly grand old hotels that once formed the backdrop for the films of its most famous resident, Federico Fellini. High tech, sterile tributes to modernity these are not, but instead what you get are huge, cavernous dining rooms, stucco ceilings and pastel pink paint. They make for a relaxing place to rest ahead of the next day’s session. Stay at the Grand Hotel Rimini, where prices start from 220 euros, a proper slice of la dolce vita.
Emilia Romagna Region is in the North of Italy, just over the Appenine Mountains from Tuscany, with a number of airlines connecting Bologna and Rimini to the UK and the rest of the world, including British Airways to London Heathrow, Easyjet to London Gatwick, Ryanair to London Stansted and Luton, Edinburgh, Bristol and Manchester.