The sheltered medieval hamlet of Equi Terme sits on the slopes of the mighty Pizzo d’Uccello peak in the Apuan Alps. Named for the mineral rich spa that eased the pains of the Roman legions, you might find it still works wonders on present day aches.
Over the centuries rainwater falling in these majestic mountains has filtered into the subsoil, been enriched by beneficial minerals, heated via geothermal action and then gushed forth, with 27ºC. sulfur waters long considered a cure for respiratory, skin and joint-related ailments. To the benefits of a good soak or hydromassage, modern spas have added the benefits of inhalations, aerosols, mud and algae treatments and massage.
Once rejuvenated at the modern thermal spa of the same name, you could investigate the vast cave system at the Equi Terme Caves Cultural Park, recognized by UNESCO as a Geopark formed over thousands of years by water erosion, with fascinating underground tunnels and deep pools.
With temperatures that never exceed 13º C., even in the hottest day of August, the caves span almost 1,000 m. In portions of the complex (la Buca) the water no longer flows, in others water is still working it magic in the creation of stalagmites and stalactites. And a portion of the caves (about 500 m.) is accessible only for expert cavers. Guides make this a good excursion for the whole family, as long as the children are of the age to walk on their own.
The Tecchia of Equi, a cave winding for 30 m. into the mountain side, is an archaeologic and paleontological site of importance for the bones and artifacts of the Copper and Bronze Age that have been found within.
Geo-nature trails lead past the deep 'Marmitta dei Giganti' canyon and two karst springs with powerful volumes of water. There is a Cave Museum and the ApuanGeoLab which make the day a fun one for children.
If you happen to be around on 7 June, join in the festival at the ‘Shrine of the Lady of the Wood, where it’s believed the Virgin Mary appeared to two shepherdesses in 1608, asking them to build a chapel in the woods above the village.