Italian stew

by Catherine Long

This story is part of our 'Funny Spa Stories' series, featuring tales from luxury hotel guests which were sent in for our travel writing competition.

Photo by Dan Taylor.


Ville Di Monte Solar was a charming hotel and spa nestled in the countryside of Umbria. The surrounding hills were lined with cypress trees, tall and proud to be Italian. Little farm houses peppered the landscape, like glazed cherries on the peaks of beautifully iced cupcakes. We arrived in time for dinner, which was heavenly: fresh fish and fat, green sprigs of asparagus.

I overslept, and on waking rushed to the spa, where I slipped into a fluffy robe, that felt like a hug from an angel. I also put on the strange paper panties provided, which were mandatory attire despite their flimsy and unaccommodating fit.

My girlfriends were sitting in white lounge chairs, having already indulged in massages that had left their speech slurred with relaxation. I arranged to meet them later, and slinked off to the jacuzzi to have a quick dip. Seeing there was no-one around, I quickly threw off my robe and submerged myself.

My body felt like spaghetti, gradually softening with the gentle kneading of the bubbles. I could feel my stresses evaporate. Then, suddenly, a door opened, and out of it spilled several generously proportioned Italian men. I scanned the area for my robe, nowhere to be seen. I was mortified. Not only was I practically naked, but these salad-dodgers were headed my way. I ducked down into the foam, temporarily concealing my modesty. They greeted me in Italian. I sat now al dente, immersed to the nostrils like a hippo in a swamp.

They disrobed revealing Speedos that looked as though they’d have to be removed by a surgeon, and began piling in, like giant hairy chunks of stewing steak. I stared straight down. There we were, hairy-old-Italian-man and naked-girl soup, bubbling away. I swore to the creator that I would give my worldly possessions to charity if he would make these half-boiled Italians depart. But, clearly my offerings displeased the Big Guy, because, just as I thought things couldn’t get any worse the paper panties finally resigned and broke away from my person, floating to the surface like a dead goldfish.

The Italians looked at me, then at one another. Their brows furrowed in confusion. My complexion turned from scarlet to purple. The wise guy of the pack got it, and cried out as though he had just realized he was taking a bath with the pope. He informed the others in loud, fast Italian, and they began scrambling to get out, bouncing off of each other in a soggy panic, then disappearing back from where they had emerged; the last of them tossing me my elusive robe. I extracted myself hastily and I ran to my room, where I remained until dinner.

I quietly relayed my horror story to the girls until the waiter interrupted:

"For the house special we have brasato al barolo."

"What’s that?" I asked.

"Local Italian meat stew." He replied, which was met with a howl of laughter.

"Sorry," managed my friend, "But she had that for lunch!"

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