Cultural Differences: Spa Edition

Dear Mom, Dear Rachel W., Dear Nan and George and Anyone Who Has Shorn Sheep or Bucked Hay,

I am having some misgivings about the farm stay that I booked for Tobias, Mariam (the au pair) and the kids next week. The idea was that they would get a little vacation at the foot of the Italian Alps while I managed the household goods removal, and that I would meet them there for a few days while the goods were being shipped to their/our new home. I imagined that at the farm the family would be playing with friendly Italian animals and eating delicious farm-made cheeses while I was marking boxes someone else packed. Wins all around, right? And as a bonus, the farm stay has a nice spa. Perfect for my weary muscles after watching professional movers pack up all of our crap, and nice for Tobias and Mariam after a long day of running after the kids. The spa has a steam sauna, a dry sauna, a plunge pool, and several services like massages. Here’s where it gets weird. Additional services include:

  • A bath made more wholesome and rejuvenatory by the addition of fresh milk from the farm. In the spa advertisement, you see a lovely young woman pouring a 5-liter metal canister of fresh milk into a steaming bath, with goats looking benevolently on in the background. Because that’s goat’s milk. Because your bath didn’t smell enough like goats.
  • A treatment that involves you lying on a warm table, nude or with a swimsuit on, and the same nice woman piling freshly gathered dry alpine hay on you from chin to toe. Once you’re stacked about two feet deep, she’ll lay another warm blanket on top, presumably to complete the luxuriously relaxing feeling of having hay under your shirt. I’ll be doing this one al fresco because what with the move and all I don’t really have time to be picking bits of hay out of my bathing suit.
  • If the hay didn’t trigger your histamines, how about lying on the same table in the same swim- or birthday-suit, and being covered with newly shorn wool? Fresh off its last job as a sheep’s only defense from sun, wind, rain, snow, and the larger insect breeds, this wool promises to share with you its beneficial oils. Vice versa I’m sure.

The TripAdvisor reviews on this place were universally fantastic, which either means that TripAdvisor reviewers know a joke spa menu when they see one, or that goat baths, hay pilings and sheep oil treatments are indeed both relaxing and effective. Pictures here; note that apparently it is the Italian custom to bathe while wearing one’s bathing suit. Hard to argue, really.


In the spirit of ingenuity and comfort, a tip I forgot in last month’s round-up: when trying to swallow a particularly large pill, put a little water in your mouth, drop the pill in, then tip your head forward (chin down,) and swallow. Counterintuitive, but it works every time without that awful ohgoditsnotgoingdownitsstuckimdying moment. Shout out to Ben Tyner, First Husband and Creator of This Website, for coming up with the method. Dude is creative!



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