Bormio, just south of the Swiss border in the Italian Alps, is also conveniently situated only a few hours from Milan. You won’t be the first to make the trek, however. The natural hot springs here, now the lovely resort of Bagni di Bormio, (the Baths of Bormio), have been in continuous use for thousands of years. Pliny the Elder was already going on about their beneficial properties back in the first century A.D. And throughout the ages, Leonardo Da Vinci, European royalty and the like, regularly flocked here to “take the waters.”

The Hotel Bagni Vecchi (Older Bath Hotel) is a smaller and cozier traditional Valtellina mountain-style hotel, while the Grand Hotel Bagni Nuovi (Grand New Bath Hotel) on the other hand is a sumptuous mid-19th century Victorian extravaganza, replete with grand dining and dancing halls and Murano glass chandeliers throughout. Both were built around the terme (natural hot springs), meticulously preserving the original Roman baths but also enhancing them by adding a subterranean spa that boasts modern cedar saunas and mineral water Jacuzzis. The trump card of the terme, however, is an outdoor Roman thermal pool perched up against the mountain that looks out over the ski slopes and picturesque Alpine valley. Add to this the charming town of Bormio itself and it comes as no surprise at all that the Bagni di Bormio has been popular for a very long time.

Layne Randolph, Italian Notebook, 2007