Medical Spa Oasis

by Joelle

I am not used to drinking Falanghina Wine, Chianti, and Bellini‘s every single day. Moreover, I have never been a drinker. In addition to all of this, every single day I have been enjoying all kinds of Mozzarelle di Bufala, Fior Di Latte and smoked Provole For a lactose intolerant person, I have done my best as you can imagine.

Extra Virgin olive oil from Tuscany, Umbria and Campania was on every single salad, home-made bread, pasta and delicious antipasti. I have spent literally hours under the sun, dried my skin to the point where my mother thought I was somebody else when I went to visit her in Brussels for a few days. By the way, she though because it had been a long time since I’d tried her Belgian truffle chocolate Cote D’or and hazelnut drinks before going to sleep, “a little sugar won’t hurt, cherie!” It was now a perfect time to burn off those calories, right?

Arriving in Anacapri, I realized (apart from not being able to look at myself in my summer pictures in review) that my heart is pounding every time I swim, walk or get irritated. Maybe the coffee? I am not a coffee drinker, even decaf, so it must be something else.

Yes, I am happy in Italy but the delicious food, the wine, the sun will not end for God’s sake! Can I just put some sensibility in my brain and get on with what’s really healthy for me at this moment? What is the solution? I am thinking silently: the person in front of the mirror looks like me but a bit more swollen than me, a bit more overweight than me, a bit less reasonable than me; and, does not want by any means to go back to New York City in this state having to face the coming harsh winter.

The solution appeared in the form of Caroline Courteau, Director of the Capri Palace Hotel Guest Relations, who is running towards me: “I have a few free minutes for lunch. Would you care to have a look at our marvelous Beauty Farm Spa? Of course, it’s just a visit as it’s completely booked up; during this time of the season it’s the busiest!” Without a word, I follow her. I know it’s a sign from God, not the Jewish one, maybe a Greek god, but it’s definitely a sign.

We walk through a kind of glass gazebo, a corridor in the middle of an enchanting forest of bright green, healthy ferns very well known in Brazil as Samambaias. We enter another very bright room with a different ambiance and atmosphere, where we are surrounded by a think curtain of yellow bamboos and a refreshingly attractive aroma of Ylang Ylang incense. On the wall hangs a dark art work known as “staging photography” by Italo-German artist Stefano Cantaroni, depicting sculptural and half naked bodies draped in cloth as if they were in a Greek tragedy performance.

At the reception desk, Caroline introduces me to a smiling Valeria, Letizia, Clara and Veronika — all dressed in white and eager to serve you with your most intimate needs of well being and consolation. I hear myself whispering into Caroline’s ear: “Are you sure they have no availability for any treatment at all in this place?”

“I don’t know Joelle, let me check, but maybe you would like to meet with the Professor. He’s available now.”

Professor Francesco Canonico is a charming tall man, white haired and stylish. By his looks, I assume he is for sure a connoisseur of women. Born in Cosenza and graduated in medicine and surgery from the University of Modena, he holds degrees in pediatrics, food science and medical oncology. In 1980, he was elected to the board of the Italian Pediatrics Society. He is a lecturer in medical auxology, genetic medicine in the pediatrics and neuropsychiatry departments.

He asks me to sit, and the first thing he says without looking at any papers or asking me my name: “Come stai?” (How are you?). I love it!! I immediately take advantage and like a broken fountain confide him my despair from the chocolate cakes to the anguish of an imminent heart attack.

He pauses, asks me how long I will be staying in the hotel, and makes a phone call to Dr. Cinzia Grassi, the spa nutritionist (who severely asks me why I have put on seven kilos on during the year). After a few questions, specific and routine blood tests, a indirect calorimetry test with canopy, body impedentiometry to determine lean and fat body mass, intra– and extra-cellular water with the consequent quantification of water retention, determination of alimentary intolerance (these tests will be performed by the University of Milan). With the last few measurements she has the answers.

“What do you have generally for breakfast?”

“On Monday in New York City, granola, non-fat yogurt and strawberries. On Wednesday in Paris, a hot croissant with butter and home-made orange confiture. On Sunday in Sao Paulo, acai pulp mixed with Pao de Queijo and orange juice.

The Professor and Dr. Grassi look at each other and say simultaneously: “She needs the Metabolic Response  Plan (a project done in collaboration with Milan Center for the Assessment of Nutritional Status). “You start today! The diet will be 900 calories per day and at three o’clock Clara and Letizia will be waiting for you for the La Scuola Delle Gambe (Leg School Treatment).

In 1994, when the professor became the medical director of the Capri Beauty Farm (he wanted to improve people’s lifestyle), his foremost contribution was to add medical treatments and aesthetic medicine to the existing cosmetology and fitness offerings.

The patented Leg School is an original topical method for improving the venous and lymphatic circulation of the lower limbs. He then confides in me with a smile full of assurance (the result of many years of observing women in the stage of post pregnancy): “If the circulation of a woman’s legs is healthy, everything else in her body will follow accordingly.” I immediately agree to undergo the miraculous treatment and theory without really knowing what’s coming next.

A personalized Mediterranean diet for lunch, at the Olivo restaurant overlooking the pool, is next. My name is on the table setting, very chic, (I write about the dishes in my next post). Afterwards, I anxiously walk to the open air garden of the gorgeous spa.

Letizia eager to start,  applies water and mud from the Dead Sea. This medicated mud, a clay enriched with active substances which are invigorating, soothing and decongestive, has the natural freshness of seaweed all secretly manipulated by the professor himself here in Capri. I can recognize the scents of camphor and licorice. Letizia assures that the vasco-active substances will help to improve the lymphatic system, the vein circulation and the elasticity of my skin.

“Believe me, it’s freezing,” I tell Letizia who assures me that the mud did not come out of a refrigerator, and that it’s just my body’s healthy and expected reaction to the active ingredients. “Adiposity, liposclerosis and cellulite are certainly going to disappear after a few session, stimulating and improving the blood circulation of your veins Joelle! – your legs will experience a highly beneficial sensation — you’ll see.”

Without a word and shivering a bit , I am then taken by Letizia to an open air shower that is sculpted inside of rocks full of beautiful leaves. She’s taking the mud off for me; I feel like a baby in her dedicated care. Medicated bandages are then applied over my washed legs. Apparently, they are highly effective in combating water retention; these supposedly invigorate venous walls through the use of vaso-active substances. “Much, much colder you won’t believe how cold this is! Cold!” I ask for some hot detox tea which is served near the warm and inviting indoor pool (also sculpted inside a rock).

With the bandages off, I am asked to go to the third and final stage of this treatment, The Kneipp vascular treatment. Letizia says “it’s a little annoying at the beginning. The experience differs from woman to woman, but as time goes by after a few walks in the shallow tanks of medicated water enriched with vegetable and mineral extracts (the same applied in the mud and bandages) you won’t notice so much the difference between the (18°-38°) temperatures. Do not worry, it’s worth it. It will definitely bring back vitality and lightness while improving both your venous and lymphatic tone.” I start wondering if all that salt and sugar in my meals was worth it!

It was hard–very hard–but that night after dinner I drifted off into a deep sleep with a such a pleasant feeling of forgetting what life was all about.

The days passed between Slimming Hydrofor (the latest cure to treat cellulite, aging problems,
muscle and facial and breast hypotonia, wrinkles, stretch marks and localized adiposity carving the body),
LPG Endermologie, Electro stimulation, Slimming seaweed mud therapies with medicinal plants ingredients such as Ivy Leaf, Centella Asiatica citrus extracts, in a steam bath and open-air under the blue sky, Lymph drainage massages (almost as good as Brazilians). I did no gymnastics in thalassotherapeutic swimming pool or the Personalized Fitness program; I do that all year round and felt like using my time visiting the city of Anacapri, slowing my pace down.

My favorite treatment apart from the Coffee Peel is the revolutionary exclusive Sun Peel. Patented by Professor Francesco Canonaco based on a chemical peeling for body and face, it has a combination of phyto-essences and essential oils and it’s basically characterized in two phases:

The first step, containing Tirosine, is applied by Veronika (a very kind and cute, blondish, tall girl) who explains passionately that its natural component exfoliates the skin’s first layer and Rose Pepper containing Pepperine with marine salt stimulates the production of Elastin and collagen. The second phase, Holistic, helps the new cells to produce melanin while avocado and other essential oils will hydrate. It’s magic my friends, magic.

While I take a few shots with my camera, I get the final precise explanation of the benefits of this treatment: it’s an ideal way to prepare the skin for sun exposure or to avoid peeling after over-exposure, as in my case. The tan gets brighter, homogeneous and lasts longer without leaving the skin stained. Seems like I can almost take New York back.

Each day, I gradually feel more resistant to the vascular Kneipp treatment.  Even with a lower salt intake, I was not particularly hungry; the diet was well balanced but I felt extremely tired without a real reason since I was not even exercising.

The answer came after uploading all the information from the efficient results of Measurement of energy expenditure and physical activity anamesis to a computer.During my past day’s 24 hour performance, Dr. Cinzia Grassi plugged in the armband, a small device on my triceps (upper arm) that I religiously kept on that day and night.

I went shopping, visit Monte Solaro(where I got the scare of my life), had three meals, went sunbathing at the pool and worked on my computer for a while.The next day on the discharge information, Dr Cinzia asked a few questions based on surprising facts and parameters of my energy consumption, physical activity and sleep.

During those 24 hours the results showed I walked 9,325 steps in 2 hours and 37 minutes of physical activity. I expended 583 calories, a larger amount at the time I was in Mount Solaro chairlift (I was nervous and afraid of heights) but what surprised me most was that I went to bed early at 10 o’clock in the evening (I was exhausted) and got up at 7 in the morning. Apparently I also woke up 10 times that night without even noticing — resulting in a total of only 4 hours of quality sleep.

No wonder I have been so tired! I understood that although I seem to manage my stress during the day and feel somewhat healthy, at night my sleep won’t lie! The doctor gave me some pediatric drops to help me sleep better.

I lost almost 3 and a half kilos, it could have been more if my body did not have to defend itself from fatigue and had I spent more time at the spa. Cinzia promised to work on an overall customized lifestyle maintenance plan of my own once test results came back from Milan (and everything would be sent by mail directly to me in New York).

While waiting in the hotel lobby getting ready to leave, Professor Canonico, probably on a break, introduced his pretty assistant cardiologist of the La Scuola del Cuore program. With a straight face he then asks me: “Well done Joelle! Would you care for a Martini to celebrate?”

Joelle’s Tips ;

The Spa Treatments Plans:

La Scuola Delle Gambe -The Leg School

La Scuola del Cuore / The Hear School

Dimagrimento / Weight-Loss- Metabolic Response.

Capri Palace Hotel & Spa -80071 Anacapri, isola di Capri Via Capodimonte,14

Tel + 39 081 978 0111- Fax + 39 081 837 3191 / /


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