Experiments in Halotherapy

Italy is really a beautiful place to live. Everywhere you look there is art, amazing architecture and delicious food. What most tourists just passing through don’t realise is the amount of pollution in the air.

For many years I lived close to the seaside in Tuscany, so never had many problems with it since the coastal breeze would sweep up any air debris. I chose not to move back to Florence because that city sits in a pool of thick smog. On bad days they put up electronic signs discouraging citizens from practicing any outdoor activities.

Lovely layer of smog over Firenze

We moved instead to the region of Emilia Romagna and though I’ve never had any problems with the environment, both my children have.

My daughter immediately started suffering from allergies. Her eyes practically pop out of her head whenever there’s a heat + no rain for months combination.

My son has this little cough that just won’t quit. We’re fortunate to have the use of my mother-in-law’s house on the beach in the south of Italy where I send Evan for the summer months. This last summer I noticed something particular in the first few days we were there: whenever he went swimming his nose would get a thorough cleaning.

He’d dive under the water and come back up with guck already running out. I know, ick! I’d make him blow and blow as his nose cleared. After the third day he was completely cleansed and the little cough was gone too.

In September when he came back north to start the school year he started coughing again the very next day. I knew I had to combat the problem some other way besides just waiting for summer to roll around. A friend of mine mentioned Halotherapy and told me that there were a few artificial salt caves here in Modena. I made an appointment  that evening for the whole family.

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Playing in the salt

A salt cave is basically a small room encrusted in salt with small vents that blow saline air into the atmosphere. I got really excited for the first few minutes because I imagined that it would have the same effect as going to the beach. I even had Evan ready with a box of tissues so he could blow his nose as it started to clear. Unfortunately nothing happened.

Even the walls are encrusted in salt
Even the walls are encrusted in salt

We stayed in there for the recommended 40 minutes. The time went really fast. Evan pretended to play with the salt that covered the floor seven inches deep. Our clothes were white and covered in salt, but the Kleenex stayed unopened.

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Purple Julia!

They had this psychedelic light that would change colors every thirty seconds, so we had a great time taking photos of each other. Blue… red… green… purple!

The owner of the salt cave said that to have real benefits we’d need to come back several times a week for months. I mentally added up the cost for the whole family and thought we could find a less expensive way to do it.

We could try a Salinizer, or simply place bowls of decorative salt around the house. If we want to get fancy we could even buy Himalayan Crystal salt, but I’m pretty sure any course salt would work fine. I’ll sprinkle in flowers so it looks nice though.

What we’ll definitely do this winter is plan more trips to the beach. There are some lovely coastal spots in Tuscany and Liguria, only an hour’s drive from our home without having to make the trek down south. I could even bring my wetsuit and try some winter open water swimming. Besides, why live in Italy if I can’t travel and explore it more often?

Salt Cave family selfie
Salt Cave family selfie
  1. Lora
    Have you tried a neti pot (or a squeeze bottle)? You use it with a saline solution. My husband has terrible allergies that would inevitably morph into massive sinus infections until he started nasal irrigation. He hasn't had a sinus infection in years now. My son also has started doing is and it has really helped him, too.
  2. Julia Jones
    Hi Lora - I have a Neti pot and I use it whenever my sinuses are blocked. I can't get my 10 year old to try it as he freaks even at the thought of putting something up his nose. Maybe in a few years... Great suggestion though!
  3. Jen
    The Neilmed Sinus Rinse (plastic squeeze bottle) is so much easier than a neti pot. I have used both and like the Neilmed much better. I'm not sure it would be available in Italy, but you might be able to but it online.
  4. Julia
    Thanks Jen, will do internet search!