Toscana's Natural Thermal Spas

Toscana's Natural Thermal Spas

As if Tuscany didn’t offer enough to see and do, there’s also a wealth of natural thermal spas to explore. Indeed, these spas (terme, in Italian) offer an ideal counterbalance to the many hours of gazing upon beautiful buildings, exquisite works of art, and idyllic scenery. A few days, or even an afternoon, at a spa will help you recoup your strength and leave you ready to face the rigors of the day once more.

For example, at Monsummano, near Pistoia, 33 miles (53km) north-west of Florence, there’s the Grotta Giusti, a vast underground cave, consisting of three sections named in honor of Dante’s masterpiece: Paradise, Purgatory, and Hell. Temperatures rises as you proceed from 84 to 93 degrees Fahrenheit (28°C-34°C), leading to Limbo, where it’s always 97 degrees Fahrenheit (36ºC). Definitely a once-in-a-lifetime experience. A day-ticket costs about $100, and also includes the open-air thermal pool with waterfall and a 20-minute massage. Bring a swimsuit; bathing caps, long white cotton robes, slippers, and towels are provided. 

Then there is Bagno Vignoni, which offers a different take on natural thermal spas, winter or summer. Check out the mineral pool, which is accessed via the Hotel Posta Marcucci. This is open to non-residents, and affords splendid views of the Tuscan countryside. Alternatively, reserve a room at the Posta Marcucci for a more in-depth experience. 

Finally, located in the heart of the Maremma district of southern Tuscany, close to the border with Lazio, check out the thermal waters of Saturnia which have been providing succor, at temperatures up to 99 degrees Fahrenheit (37 degrees C), since Etruscan times.  Head for the Cascate del Mulino (the Windmill Falls) and experience the rush of these spectacular turquoise falls, that step down via little pools as they descend the slope, free of charge.

You’ll need a little preparation. There are no changing rooms. So, wear your bathing suit underneath your clothes. This way you can change rapidly when you get there. Since the stones on the bottom of the pools have been worn shiny by the rushing water over the centuries, they can be very slippery, bring those water shoes! Don’t forget a large towel for the shower afterwards and remove any silver jewelery to avoid any tarnish from the soothing, sulfur-rich water. 

There is a small café close to these springs. Here you can enjoy a taste of bubbling prosecco, as well as local snacks and panini.  There’s also a shower, that will help you freshen up afterward, leaving behind luscious, silky-smooth skin, and the memory of an unforgettable day out.

This is just a short selection of the natural springs and thermal waters in Tuscany. There are many more.  Check out for example Petriolo, San Filippo, and Rapolano Terme. Each has  a lot to offer.  And if you like natural thermal spas and mineral treatments, consider also venturing to the island of Ischia, off of Naples. Here, in an area of about 17 square miles (46 sq. km.) you are spoiled for choice.  There is both the Giardini Poseidon, which boasts 20 pools set in verdant splendor, the water temperature ranging from 82 degrees to 104 degrees Fahrenheit (28°C- 40°C), or Negombo, which also includes a secluded sandy beach, and also has about 15 pools and waterfalls. Enjoy!

--Roberta Kedzierski