Last Tango in Pisa

Sunday night in this opulent 18th century hotel that once belonged to the Grand Duke of Tuscany. I am here to review the spa. Massage is fine but mud wraps, salt scrubs etc make me anxious. Who has to clean this place once I have wafted off in my towelling robe and slippers? I always seem to find the draft, or get landed with the invasive piped music; I lie on the table fretting about the working conditions of the sweet spa girls. After pounding, pummelling and stroking all these strangers' bodies, do they have to sluice the place down?

I stub my toe in  the jacuzzi. It throbs, turns black and seems about to drop off which is a shame because on Sunday night in this hotel that once belonged to the Grand Duke of Tuscany, there is a Tango Evening in the ballroom. When was the last time any of us were in a hotel where the ballroom was used for dancing? The locals wander in - a few couples but most of them singles, of all ages and in their best clothes. They pay a few Euros to a woman who sits at the door and wander in. I wander with them and for the first time in my life, get to participate in that early 20th century ritual of standing on the edge of a dance floor, waiting for someone to ask me to dance. This is Italy - no dancing round your handbag or with your best friend. Men and woman strut solemnly  round the floor together while the piped  tango music plays.  

Bagni di Pisa's thermal waters were once visited by the Shelleys and Byron but the ballroom is more of  a scene from a Fellini film - not that the dancers are grotesque. They are optimistic and proud and valiant in their dedication to learning the steps that carry them across the floor. I, who grew up with the solo wrigglings of Mick Jagger, as my only model, watch them with envy for the romance that has never been mine.

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