High maintenance

24 Feb
I’ve been meaning to write about the odd assortment of pedicures I have had in Italy. It took me a few appointments to finally settle into a salon and services that I could enjoy and where the results are good, but the journey has been interesting….
Nail salons are important here. In fact, every type of personal appearance maintenance is very important: nails, hair, massage, waxing — esthetics of every kind. Many women have their nails done, both hands and feet, on a regular basis. After all, one must maintain la bella figura. One of my favorite bloggers, Mozzarella Mamma, did a wonderful post on the female beauty scene  http://www.mozzarellamamma.com/2011/linguini-and-luscious-legs/ . Go ahead, read it, laugh out loud, then come back to finish reading this post. I’ll wait.
Welcome back; now on to my own experiences.  I am addicted to pedicures-as-therapy and have been for years. Ric will tell you that my personal maintenance is a line-item in the household budget. It’s certainly cheaper than psychotherapy.
My Italian salon adventures started in Sorrento when we were on vacation over a year ago. Mid-vacation I wanted a pedicure. We were tromping about Italy to the tune of 6-10 miles a day. My toes needed a little pampering and I was looking forward to a strong leg massage.  Ric was looking forward to two hours of my absence so he could take a nap. I asked the concierge at our hotel to recommend a place, and he pointed me to a nearby salon: “It’s where the general manager’s wife goes.” Good enough for me.  Ha!
Arriving at the salon, I was led down a narrow, steep stairway to a dim cubicle in the basement. I was seated in a straight-backed chair on a platform and the nail tech had me place my tootsies in a plastic basin of tepid water.  No comfy vibrating chair, no swirling whirlpool of warm, scented bubbles to sooth my tired feet: just tepid water. In December. From there the treatment proceeded on course with what one might expect until we got to the “massage:” a half-hearted application of lotion. Ric does a better foot massage for me when he’s half asleep. Then it took a turn for the worse:  No lovely, shiny, top coat seal-of-protection for my newly painted digits. When asked, the nail tech had no idea what I was talking about. By the time I returned to the hotel, my polish was already scuffed.  €30.00 flushed, and not exactly una bella figura.
Arriving in Rome last May, I sought out a recommended salon near the Embassy. Based on Mozzarella Mamma’s post, I figured Roman salons would meet my expectations. This one did a good job including a whirlpool footbath, comfy chair, decent massage, used some of the best polishes made, perfect top coat; but very expensive.  I’d need to shop around. 
A few weeks later, I moved on to Salon #2, conveniently located on my commute home.  Again with the tepid basin of water. This nail tech explained that warm water was bad for my feet. Huh. Following the no-massage massage there was NO TOP COAT. “Signora, if I put on more polish they will never dry.” Listen? Do you hear the sound of €35 being flushed? The polish dried, but again it scuffed on the way home. 
Returning to the high-end salon, I was assigned the resident Amazon, a muscular lass of about 6’2” (remember the man-hands episode on “Seinfeld?”) who proceeded to cut my cuticle so deep I bled into the swirling whirlpool foot bath and styptic powder was required. (Her strong hands gave a heck of a massage, though.)  Nice nails, but a nasty cut. So maybe a high-end hotel would do the trick. I hit Salon #3 on Via Veneto. 
Escorted to a quiet and luxurious treatment room, I was instructed to lie on a massage table and make myself comfortable. “We’re doing a pedicure?” (I asked just to make sure I wasn’t supposed to be naked at this point. In Italy one never knows.)  “Si, signora, just relax.” The tech brought, guess what? A bowl of tepid water to the table, bent my legs and situated my feet in said plastic basin of tepidness. Yup, I’m really relaxed now, with my knees in the air and my feet in tepid water.  Really happy I wore a skirt so I could maximize my exposure. At least they used a top coat so the polish lasted.  
So I have returned to the high-end place by the Embassy, where I have settled into a routine of dependable service, nice people, un caffè while I soak, and no more injuries to date. Sometimes there’s even a little dog in the lap of the woman seated next to me. I like that. The price of pampering can be high, as is the price of maintaining one’s bella figura.

12 Responses to “High maintenance”

  1. CB September 11, 2015 at 14:02 #

    I finally found a good manicure and pedicure. I have been over two months in Italy, everywhere I have been I tried to get at least a decent mani/pedi. No luck until now, it took one hour and a half, two girls, $$$$$$ and I got it. Just as good if not better than back home. I am very demanding on my mani/pedi since its part of my regular routine. Once a week. Very happy I feel brand
    new and ready to go on the last 3 weeks of my vacations. Next stop Rome, any recommendations?
    By the way I really enjoyed both posts, very funny and true 😂


    • gooddayrome September 11, 2015 at 14:06 #

      Thanks for stopping by! My recommendation remains Enhancements in via Umbria. I am sure you will be satisfied.


  2. Steph April 10, 2014 at 03:10 #

    I was searching the internet for nail salons in Rome and found your article. I will be in Rome in the summer months and will need my bi-monthly manicures and pedicures. Would you mind telling me the names of all the places you visited so I could avoid them? Thank you in advance! 🙂


  3. Ryanne April 8, 2014 at 11:23 #

    Love your blog!!! I am currently studying abroad in Rome and have had terrible experiences at nail salons…. would you mind giving the name of the salon/spa you enjoyed (despite being expensive) near the Embassy? I am willing to pay almost anything at this point!


    • gooddayrome April 8, 2014 at 11:40 #

      The salon is Enhancements in Via Umbria. Tell them I sent you!


  4. Terah February 25, 2013 at 01:32 #

    Loved both blogs and even went on to read her blog on the conclave. We Americans are a little spoiled aren’t we? I can’t see myself lying down with my feet in a plastic bowl of tepid water let alone paying for it! I actually judge the salons on the quality of the massage chair! 😉 Love your blogs. so glad you share so delightfully!


    • gooddayrome February 25, 2013 at 05:02 #

      We are spoiled by SOME things in America. But as you know while things may be different — here in Italy or anywhere — they are often better, too. I love seeing different approaches to everyday situations and services.


  5. Anita February 24, 2013 at 23:18 #

    You are so funny 🙂 I miss seeing your different pedi styles. 🙂


  6. gayleseely February 24, 2013 at 16:52 #

    This was fun! Both columns. And it is nice to know there is someone else with a secret
    addiction to pedicare massages. AND pretty toes. I understand that every week thing when sandals are in order, but one has to justify it to oneself in the winter in Portland


    • gooddayrome February 24, 2013 at 16:58 #

      Thanks Gayle! Just trying to give you folks at home a glimpse into our lives. And one need NEVR justify a pedicure. You never know when you might need to go barefoot. And there is the mentally therapeutic benefit. Cheaper then psychoanalysis!


      • Barbie February 26, 2013 at 22:43 #

        Laurel – what a marvelous ride reading the blog and then learning of your adventures to get pampered toes! I too go every two weeks or so – even in winter – because it makes me feel so girly and is truly therapy for the soul!


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