Immortalized in Fellini's film 8½, Montecatini Terme is the home of Italy's premier terme (spas). Known for their curative powers—and, at least once upon a time, for their great popularity among the wealthy—the mineral springs flow from five sources and are taken for a variety of ailments, including liver and skin disorders. Those "taking the cure" report each morning to one of the town's stabilimenti termali (thermal establishments) to drink their prescribed cupful of water. Afterward, guests can enjoy a leisurely breakfast, read the newspaper, recline and listen to music, or walk in the parks that surround these grand old spas.
Montecatini Terme's wealth of Art Nouveau buildings dates to the town's most active period of development at the beginning of the 20th century. Like most other well-heeled resort towns, Montecatini attracts the leisured traveler, conventioneer, and senior citizen on a group tour; it's trimmed with a measure of neon and glitz; aside from taking the waters and people-watching in Piazza del Popolo, there's not a whole lot to do here. There are, however, plenty of places to stay, making the town a good base from which to explore the region.