By Mary N. DiZazzo

Ciao bella! "Water is very necessary for life, for delight, for daily use," (Vitruvius, Roman architect, 1st century B.C.).

Ahhh...the bath. The Romans and the Greeks certainly jumped on a great idea. It is a known fact that public baths existed in Roman life since the 2nd century B.C. (initially for men only!). But as women were taking their place in history it also was allowed for them to bath communally. Mixed bathing was allowed in the 1st century A.D. But later was condemned, along with so many other "feel good" privileges.

The Roman bathing ritual was an anticipated daily routine. All the maladies of the day and all the politics and philosophies of the world would be tempered at the bath.

The Diocletian bath had a capacity of 6,000 bathers. Picture an enormous open garden in full bloom; surrounded by many small rooms and a block of bath chambers in the center of the gardenóas in the Baths of Caracalla.

As you ceremoniously enter an important and essential part of Roman life, anointed with oils, feel the heated water magically capturing your body in a relaxing state of euphoria.

Now, we Americans, living our fast-paced lives, need to recapture tranquil moments. Out, with the quick shower of a ten-minute cleanse. Visit your fav bath department and indulge with some bubble-making luxuries.

My fav is Mr. Bubble, an old-time stand-by -- The most fab bubbles of anything Iíve ever used. Then there are your old-fashioned Epsom Salts to relieve tired aching muscles Ė great price!

On the wild ride of natural products is a wonderful negotzio call Harnettís in Harvard Square. The helpful staff at Harnettís is always ready to assist you in finding just what you need. Itís certainly worth the trip.

There you will find a wonderful variety of mineral baths by ABRA. They can relieve stress, calm your muscles, tend your cold and flu, or tuck you in for the count of sheep. ABRA also carries a full line of therapeutic skin care lotions. My fav variety is Aura Cacia, an aroma therapy mineral bath of sweet roses called Heart Song!

For an added treat, light some candles, throw some rose petals in that warm H2O, join a loved one and feel the magic. Che amore!

Of course, we only dipped a toe in the many bath rituals available with more to come.

Sunday Iím off to Rome for two weeks to exalt in my ancestry. Iíll also be searching for more beauty tips.

Buon viaggio a tutti.--Mary.

[Mary DiZazzo is a third-generation cosmetologist and owner/operator of Mary for Nails, etc. natural nailcare salon in Andover, Mass.and may be contacted at (978) 470-8183. She also sees select clients by appointment in Boston at (617) 742-6881.]