Driving through Manilva, you take the road to the left of Lidl just after the round about and head out of the town towards the countryside. Rolling the window down, the breeze runs it’s humid fingers through your hair, and the crickets humm along to the birds chorus, as they hide in the elephant grass either side of the car.
Following the signs to The Roman Oasis, you’ll head right past it as you suddenly run out of road. The river rushes up to greet the road, and the tarmac is replaced with a dusty track littered with rocks. The dirt track steepens and the jagged rocks get worse, while the car groans upwards grabbing at the dust. Two buildings guard the top of the incline, lining the sides. One, a deserted villa completely left to the elements and the other an ancient white church. One day, Muma DSF will turn the Villa into her little retreat – barely changing a thing. In the mean time, it remains as just that; remains.
A single tree clings to the side of the road, its roots clasping the underside of the track and its leaves creating a canopy making a perfect shelter for you to park your car. The bush lined tiny path has long ago been replaced with a slightly wider and sturdier walkway and as you walk down it, all you feel is peace. Stepping through the white archway, the smell finally hits you. Try to stop your lip automatically curling up and your nose wrinkling in disgust at the stench of rotten egg. And then you see the water. A creamy blue lying completely still under a shaded brick ceiling. It almost makes you forget the awful smell of the sulphuric water as you hold your breath and dive into the cold foggy waters.
Floating on the surface with your arms either side keeping you above the water. If you close your eyes and let your mind float away with your body, you could almost be back with the Roman Soldiers relaxing after a long day marching.
Once you’ve soaked yourself, walk down to the riverbed and dig your nails into the clay walls. Grabbing handfuls of the wet clay, coat your body in it and find the biggest flattest rock in the sunshine to bake yourself on.
When it finally becomes time to walk away from your peaceful slice of heaven, your skin will be glowing and you’ll have felt as though you’ve been polished and preened in a five star spa. Just don’t tell anyone our secret else they’ll all rush there!