They say that wherever the Romans settled, they did two things first: plant wine grapes and build a public bath.

Leukerbad in the mountains of the north side of upper Canton Valais has a strong Roman past going back to 200 BC. And the ancient legacy lives on with a contemporary flair: fine local wines still come from the Rhone Valley below, and the village today features thermal baths fed with natural, 51° Celsius mineral springs, which gush continuously at the rate of nearly four million liters a day. This is the largest thermal spa in the Alps. In addition to several hotels which offer private bathing, therapeutic and wellness facilities to their guests, Leukerbad features extensive public facilities, as well as a major clinic.

Water has been the heart of Leukerbad’s tourism-based economy for generations, and continues to attract large numbers of loyal patrons from Switzerland and the rest of Europe and beyond. Notables over the centuries have included Goethe, Picasso, Mark Twain and James Baldwin.

Bob Zanotti has been there many times.