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What could be better than visiting The Eternal City? Gorgeous ancient ruins, high fashion, delicious food, fine art… smog, hordes of tourists, pickpockets, traffic, and big city grime. Whew! Sometimes, you need a vacation from your vacation. Where to head when you need to get away from Rome? Try the Roman Baths in Tivoli.

Tivoli – just 18 km outside of Rome, home to the romantic Villa d’Este and Hadrian’s Villa – is also home to the Roman Baths; a large spa complex that’s long been a popular oasis for weary Romans and people who want to do as weary Romans. The Roman baths complex is labyrinthine, offering access to thermal sulfur baths, saunas, a mud bath and many kinds of beauty and massage treatments, including sanshui, ki, cellulite elimination, and hot stone.

I took myself to the Roman Baths for my annual birthday day trip. Since I decided to go on the spur of the moment, I got the basic package – €45 for access to the Turkish baths, saunas, water jet massages, warm sulfur pool, aromatherapy showers, and relaxation room. This year, my birthday fell on a Sunday, and at the end of winter, so the majority of the facilities were closed and the complex was practically deserted – just right for solitary another-year-older contemplation. Entrance to the Roman Baths includes a complimentary welcome package that includes a bathrobe, slippers, a towel, and a card key to the locker room.

A long soak in the thermal waters, a few sweat-drenched minutes in the saunas and a long nap in the relaxation room and I could forget all of the maddening daily frustrations of Rome. Which just whetted my appetite to head back to the city and treat myself to a giant birthday dinner of fried zucchini flowers, braised oxtail, and Roman-style artichokes.

How to Get There: Take the Metro B to Ponte Mammolo and hop on one of the C.O.T.R.A.L buses – bound for Bagni di Tivoli – which depart every 15 minutes and drop you off right in front of the baths. You can also take the Metro B to Tiburtina and get the Roma-Pescara-bound train, which depart every 30 minutes and leave you 150 meters away from the complex.

What to Bring: Your own swimsuit – unlike Japanese baths, Roman baths require their bathers to cover up.

What’s your favorite big-city escape?

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