15km (9 1/3 miles) W of Pistoia; 46km (29 miles) W of Florence; 330km (205 miles) N of Rome

The curative powers coursing through the sulfurous underground hot springs and steaming vaporous caverns of the Valdinievole west of Pistoia have been renowned for centuries. This "Valley of Mists" is home to Montecatini Terme, the grande dame of Italian spas, as well as Monsummano Terme, with eerie natural sauna caves. Although modern thermal centers aimed at relaxing your body and emptying your wallet have begun filling the valley, the hillsides remain beautiful. Capped with tiny medieval villages, they are a joy to wander -- the SS633 twists its way into the mountains north of Montecatini, providing a gorgeous route for Sunday drivers. If you're heading here hell-bent on heavy relaxation, know that both Montecatini and Monsummano become veritable ghost towns from mid-October to Easter.