AcquaMadre Hammam in Rome

22 Sep

As those of you who follow me on Twitter and Facebook know, this was my “Treat Yo Self” weekend. One of my BFFs introduced me to this concept a few months ago, but I am only just now fully embracing it. If you aren’t familiar with where the expression comes from, here is the clip that delineates this awesome ritual that involves cupcakes and “fine leather goods!!”

Instead of searching for fulfillment and satisfaction in men who clearly aren’t able to give it to me, I decided to start TREATING MY SELF, and that began with buying a bouquet of 24 roses yesterday, all for me. They’re now in glass jars around my house and make me happy. Remember this post from years ago? I still treasure the little things, like being able to buy flowers and a newspaper. Really do.

This is one of my “off” weekends in which the kiddos are with papà, and I am devoting my free time lately to learning how to be alone with myself but not lonely. That started in Spoleto (day 1 and day 2) but it’s a continual process that I’m working on. Two steps forward, one step back.

I don’t want to get into a bunch of emo psychobabble, but suffice it to say that I left my 10-year relationship with some major self-esteem issues. As in, below zero self-esteem. How did I think I could remedy that? Oh, easy! I would throw myself at men’s feet and hope they’d rescue me. The Band-Aid Brand Bandage approach.

Well, you all know how that ends. Or maybe you don’t. In any case, I’m here to tell you that for me, it ended in getting a hot dog when what I really wanted was a steak, rare, followed by a decadent dessert and a bubble bath with candles.

What’s that, you say?

You mean I can TREAT MY SELF and not wait for a man to do this for me?

Well, now! There’s a concept!

Therefore, with God and y’all as my witness, I hereby pledge to never devalue myself again by settling for mystery meat when I really want top-quality Certified Prime Angus beef.

But enough with the strange inside joke metaphors that only this girl understands because she has been my rock and my life preserver throughout this whole self-esteem debacle. Let’s get on with treat yourself weekend.

I want to tell you about AcquaMadre here in Rome. It’s a thermal spa where you can feel like an ancient Roman for a day.

It is, in a word: AMAZING.

Everything about it was awesome.

The “hammam” or bathing area is underground, and the walls and ceilings are all arched and bricks and sparkly brown mosaic tile. I felt like changing my name to Servilia or maybe even Livia Drusilla, and then hiring servants to fan me with palm fronds and feed me grapes. Yes, that would be cool.

Instead, I got to enjoy the lovely hammam ritual, in which you proceed through various steps of baths that provide a total relaxation experience. I had a gift certificate to this place from Christmas and it had taken me THIS LONG to finally book. I already can’t wait to go back.

You start in the tepidarium, a room that’s heated to 36°C (96.8°F), and the attendants, all of whom are super friendly and explain everything to you, give you a silver pail with a copper bowl inside. The bucket is filled with warm water and you start to scoop the water into the copper bowl and pour it all over yourself “to start acclimating your body to the temperature.” You sit on mosaic-covered benches and get to just enjoy the time to do nothing but water therapy surrounded by gentle lighting and faint but not cloying incense. It is lovely.

They give you a little porcelain saucer filled with a black gel soap which is very moisturizing, and you put it all over your body and then go into the calidarium, which is a steam room heated to 45°C/100% humidity (113°F) and they tell you to stay in “depending on how long you can stand the heat.” It is really relaxing and feels great to breath in the vapors, and they recommend you go in and out at least a few times. In between you relax in the tepidarium while sipping water or having a hard candy or two.

When you’ve had enough of the steam bath, you tell the attendants and they arrange for your massage. You get your own hammam exfoliating glove which an attendant uses to scrub your body. They use some kind of a warm oil which they pour on you and it feels really pampering. The scrub lasts about 10 minutes.

You then take a shower and go to the frigidarium 28°C (82.4°F) and relax in a pool with a gentle cascading waterfall.

The design throughout is elegant, minimalist, and colored in beige and stone hues. There is warm light from candles burning in little corners all around, and a light incense smell, and it is quite a surreal environment, truly unique.

Saturdays are for men and women, and there were some couples having a relaxing day together. You have to book your appointment in advance, and this assures that it’s not a crowded environment.

After the frigidarium, you take a final shower and proceed to the relax room, where you can stretch out on a comfortable wooden lounge chair and an attendant brings a delicious mint tea in a simple white ceramic teapot, with an elegant flowery teacup, and you can read magazines or just zone out before you have to go back to the real world.

I can’t wait to get back here. I think this place would be a great stop on any visit to Rome. I had no idea it even existed! It’s right behind my favorite fountain, the Bernini turtle fountain in the Jewish Ghetto.

photo of the tepidarium from the AcquaMadre website

AcquaMadre Hammam
Via S. Ambrogio 17
Tel. 06 6864272
Hours and pricing


7 Responses to “AcquaMadre Hammam in Rome”

  1. LC September 23, 2012 at 12:01 am #

    I want to go there now!…. it all looks very calming, I just got in from Woody Allen’s From Rome with Love and it was a very silly film indeed which is probably a relief to everybody
    who has to live and work there, you need tourists – but not too many, and this film certainly won’t be bringing them there in droves!

    I totally agree with you about the treating yourself principal, candles, nice flowers whatever provides you with pleasure is surely to be savoured. i haven’t quite graduated to doing it guilt-free yet…I must try harder!

  2. Arlene Gibbs Décor September 23, 2012 at 10:39 am #


    Of course one must not go overboard purchasing too many “fine leather goods” but yes, I completely agree with the TYS philosophy.

    Life is short. Enjoy it.

  3. AmyEmilia September 23, 2012 at 4:34 pm #

    Good for you for treating yourself! The place sounds wonderfully decadent. Congratulations on taking the time to enjoy it. I hope you get to go back soon!

  4. Griet September 23, 2012 at 5:59 pm #

    Perfect timing of your post! I was looking for a place like that in Rome and this one seems amazing. Life is short indeed! And after full-time jobs, house work, stress, Roman traffic/Atac trouble…. .does one really need an excuse to have a massage? Did you do one of their ‘percorsi’?

  5. Sara Rosso September 23, 2012 at 9:13 pm #

    I want to go to there 🙂

  6. lapiubelladitutte September 29, 2012 at 9:36 pm #

    Wowe what a place! I definitely will go there!!

  7. Sarah May (@AntiquaTours) October 4, 2012 at 10:12 am #

    I NEED to go there.

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