Reading this article about "buttock-cupping" and other "cures" on the BBC site today made me smile and reminded me that I once saw something similar in Sicily:
Some years ago a friend's son had a nasty chest cold and my friend got him to bend over and breathe deeply, then placed heated glass cups, open end downwards, all over his back. Next, she massaged his back with warm olive oil. After this, the lad was wrapped up in fleecy pyjamas, a fluffy dressing gown and as many blankets as could be found in the house and was sent to bed with half a dozen hotwater bottles. My friend who, like many Sicilians I know, prides herself on hardly ever switching on her central heating - they prefer to sit around in their own homes in jacket, muffler, cap and gloves in deepest winter - did switch it on that night.
Needless to say, in the morning the young man was fine and I'll never know whether it was some magic property in the heated cups, the olive oil, the deep breathing, the unaccustomed warmth in the house or just sweating the cold out but who am I to question something that works?