Saturnia toscana italy

Saturnia toscana italy

Saturnia Hot Springs in Tuscany – Italy’s Best-Kept Secret

The Saturnia thermal hot springs are one of Italy’s best-kept secrets and an absolute must do in Italy. A collection of silk blue water springs on different levels that are heated by the nearby volcano. A small but powerful stream of water keeps the water flowing down all levels and makes sure it has a constant temperature of 37 degrees.

About Saturnia, Tuscany

Saturnia is a spa town in Tuscany, Italy. A commonly misunderstood fact is that the springs are part of a nearby located spa resort. The Saturnia hot springs in Tuscany are completely FREE to visit 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

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How to visit the Saturnia hot springs in Tuscany?

Being strategically located between Siena (2 hours) and Rome (3 hours) is what makes Saturnia a perfect stop to add to your Tuscany road trip. The best option is to rent a car, drive there and spend the night at one of the bed and breakfasts near the hot springs.

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Enjoy the peaceful baths during sunset or sunrise when the least visitors are in the baths. The relaxing sound of the powerful waterfall will muffle the talking that you would normally hear around you.

Saturnia Hot Springs in Tuscany – Italy’s Best-Kept Secret

If you really want a private experience, visit the spring before 7 AM. Next to the hot spring is a parking area that’s also open the entire day. UPDATE: The parking is moved to a nearby location indicated with signs.

Location Hot Springs: See the exact location

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Why does the hot spring smell?

Because its natural heated process the sulfur smell is a small drawback of the Tuscany thermal hot springs. Some days its worse than the other but as the water is said to be healing, you will feel as new after a good bath here.

What to bring to the hot springs in Tuscany

Your 2-week trip through Italy isn’t complete without a proper swim in the Saturnia hot springs. Bring your towel and drinking water so you won’t get dehydrated but change in your hotel or car. There are no changing facilities at these hot springs in Tuscany.

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Tip: You might want to wear water shoes as small pebble-stones cover the spring’s floor.

It is almost unreal that this exists and that everyone can enjoy it for free. Please take your garbage with you and leave the hot springs even cleaner than before.

Hotels Saturnia

There is a handful of good hotels and B&B’s in the area. Our B&B 8380 is a 5-minute walking distance from the thermal hot springs. The same goes for the Spa and Golf Resort. Best is to choose accommodation in either Saturnia or Montemerano.

Montemerano is one of the most beautiful little villages in Italy and great to have dinner. Read more about it in our Tuscany Road Trip Guide.

Things to do in Saturnia, town and hot springs

In the heart of the Tuscan Maremma there are beautiful waterfalls fed by thermal water, a real masterpiece of nature, which every year attract many visitors. The thermal baths of Saturnia are certainly among the most beautiful in all of Tuscany, and one could safely say that they are also among the most beautiful in Italy. Not far from the famous Cascate del Mulino, there is also the ancient village of Saturnia which stands on a hillock located in the municipal area of ​​Manciano in the province of Grosseto.

The name Saturnia can only make one think of Saturn, not the planet but the divinity who, according to legend, would have given life to the thermal spring of Saturnia. The myth tells that the god Saturn, angry with the men who were always at war with each other, took a lightning bolt and threw it on the earth, thus opening a crater from which hot water began to come out. The miraculous water that emerged from this crater was able to restore peace among men and lead them to a golden age.

Cascate del Mulino in Saturnia

Cascate del Mulino in Saturnia

History of Saturnia

Having said the myth, let’s briefly see what the story of Saturnia was. The area in which the village and the baths are located has been frequented since the Bronze Age and numerous archaeological finds document the presence of an Etruscan community since the eighth century BC. Saturnia follows the fate of the important Etruscan city of Vulci and in the third century BC passes under the control of the Romans. During the Roman era, the center acquired a certain importance but with the end of the empire and the barbarian invasions, Saturnia went through a long period of decline, so much so that the city seems to almost disappear from history.

We find news of Saturnia again only from the 12th century, when it is mentioned as a castle and spa center. At the time this area was controlled by the Aldobrandeschi counts but, very soon, Saturnia found itself at the center of the expansionist aims of Orvieto and Siena who attacked it repeatedly. During one of these attacks, in 1299, the city was destroyed by the Sienese who, however, took possession of it only starting from 1410. In the following centuries the fate of the village was not the best and the area was essentially abandoned, until the necessary reclamation works starting from the 1820s.

Things to do in Saturnia

Saturnia still retains part of the defensive structures of the past; among these there are the fortress, the walls and one of the city gates. Also worth visiting is the Church of Santa Maria Maddalena, the archaeological museum and the Etruscan necropolis located along the ancient Roman via Clodia also known as via delle Terme.

Walls of Saturnia

Saturnia has been endowed with defensive walls since the time of the Romans who built a first circle during the second century BC. These walls had four access gates placed according to the traditional scheme of Roman settlements, centered on two perpendicular axes, the cardo and the decumanus. At the beginning of the 13th century the walls were restructured and enlarged by the Aldobrandeschi and then rebuilt by the Sienese around the middle of the 15th century.

Even today the walls surround a large part of the hamlet and, by observing them carefully, you can see the various construction phases. Only one of the four access gates is preserved: Porta Romana. This city gate opens with its round arch in the southern part of the walls, coinciding with the passage of the ancient Via Clodia.

Porta Romana

Porta Romana (Photo by LigaDue / CC BY)

Rocca aldobrandesca

The rocca aldobrandesca of Saturnia is located just outside the city walls, a stone’s throw from Porta Romana. The fortress was probably built between the end of the twelfth and the beginning of the thirteenth century, when the Aldobrandeschi took possession of Saturnia. Severely damaged at the beginning of the 15th century, the fortress was renovated and modernized by the Sienese during their dominion. The last important modification to the complex dates back to the early twentieth century when the neo-Gothic Castello Ciacci was built inside. The fortress well preserves its military characteristics with powerful circular towers and solid walls with a shoe base. Unfortunately it is not possible to visit it inside because it is privately owned.

Rocca aldobrandesca in Saturnia

Rocca aldobrandesca (Photo by trolvag / CC BY)

Chiesa di Santa Maria Maddalena

The church of Santa Maria Maddalena is located immediately inside the walls, near Porta Romana. The existence of this church is documented since 1188, but due to a complete restructuring in 1933, its appearance has been totally distorted. Inside there are some works including a panel by Benvenuto di Giovanni depicting the Madonna and Child between San Sebastiano and Santa Maria Maddalena (15th century), a tabernacle depicting Saint Clare and Saint Elizabeth of Hungary and a pair of wooden crosses.

Museo Archeologico di Saturnia

The Archaeological Museum of Saturnia collects artifacts dating back to a long period ranging from prehistoric times to the Roman age. Most of the materials on display come from the Ciacci collection. The collection is mainly composed of the findings of excavations carried out in various locations on the Albegna and Fiora hills and near Saturnia, Sovana, Pitigliano and Montemerano. The exhibits on display offer a broad overview of the material production of the area, especially in the Etruscan and Roman times.

The thermal baths of Saturnia

The spas are what made Saturnia famous. In the surroundings of the village there are some sources that are well known since ancient times. In Saturnia you can choose between the beautiful Cascate del Mulino, which are freely accessible, and the luxurious spas of Saturnia.

The water of Saturnia

The thermal water of Saturnia is born in the depths of the earth of Monte Amiata and travels a 40-year journey before reaching the surface. Along the way, the water is enriched with minerals and gases before gushing out at a temperature of 37.5° with a flow rate of 800 liters per second, enough for a complete change once every 4 hours. The water of Saturnia has many recognized therapeutic properties and is used to heal the skin, reduce blood pressure and increase lung ventilation.

Cascate del Mulino

The famous Cascate del Mulino (or Cascate del Gorello) of Saturnia are located just 3 kilometers south of the town. These are in all likelihood the most famous spas in all of Tuscany and in fact they are often stormed by tourists, so you should carefully consider when to go to avoid finding too much crowding. In any case, even in winter the sulphurous water temperature of Saturnia guarantees absolute relaxation and perfect shelter from the coldest temperatures.

The great fame of this spa town is mainly linked to the beauty of the place and the unique scenery that these waterfalls are able to create. Nature here has created a series of tiered thermal pools with the water flowing regularly from one pool to the next. The Cascate del Mulino are open and free but are not particularly equipped so you should bring towels, food and so on. The pools are not deep so, with due care, you can also bring children.

If you are passionate about photography, I would like to point out a nice panoramic point along the SP10 road, just south of the Cascate del Mulino, from which you can take excellent shots of the waterfalls.

Things to do in Saturnia The waterfall of the mill

The waterfall of the mill (Photo by Raimond Spekking / CC BY)

What to see and what to do near Saturnia

Saturnia is located in Maremma, an area very rich in things to do and places to see. In the vicinity of the thermal baths there are several historic hamlets that deserve to be visited. The closest are Montemerano, a delightful medieval village considered one of the most beautiful in Italy, Manciano and Scansano, the homeland of Morellino wine. From Saturnia you can also quickly reach the so-called “tuff area” where there are three fantastic villages such as Pitigliano, Sorano and Sovana.

Another very popular feature of the Maremma is the sea. Saturnia is located just 45 kilometers from the coast and from the Argentario where some of the most famous seaside resorts of the area are located such as Orbetello, Porto Santo Stefano and Porto Ercole.

How to get to Saturnia and to the hot springs

Saturnia is located about halfway between Florence, which is 180 kilometers away, and Rome which is 160 kilometers away; the provincial capital, Grosseto, is 55 kilometers away.

By car: if you come from the north or from Florence, you must take the Firenze-Siena highway and continue following the signs towards Grosseto, Scansano, Montemerano and Saturnia.
From South / Rome: A12 motorway to the Civitavecchia exit, Aurelia to Montalto di Castro and then follow the signs for Vulci and Manciano / Saturnia.

Train and Bus: it is not very convenient to reach Saturnia by public transport. The closest railway stations are those of Albinia, Orbetello, Grosseto. From these cities you will have to take a bus such as the 17P Orbetello-Albinia-Manciano line of the Tiemme bus lines.

Saturnia toscana italy

Saturnia, best known as a natural springs and spa destination, is to the south of the Tuscany region of Italy where it is part of the municipality of Manciano. The town is situated on a hill overlooking the famous hot springs — the principal attraction for visitors — between Mount Amiata and the hills of the rivers Albegna and Fiora.

Explore Saturnia

Although the natural springs are the main attraction here we do recommend you also visit the other historical monuments in the town of Saturnia.

First among these are the defensive walls of Saturnia, built with a typical system of fortifications for the region that uses quite low walls that follow the contour of the hill and included several round towers.

The first walls were built by the Romans, and these were then rebuilt in the Middle Ages by the Aldobrandeschi lords who restructured and expanded the original defenses at the same time as the construction of the Rocca di Saturnia. The walls were again rebuilt by the Sienese in the middle of the 15th century.

The only gateway remaining through the walls is the Porta Romana, on the south side of Saturnia, which has full-centre arch windows. The northwest corner of the walls includes the Aldobrandesca fortress (also called Ciacci Castle), not far along the walls from Porta Romana. The castle was badly damaged in the early fifteenth century, then later restored by the Sienese.

The Church of St. Mary Magdalene is the main church in Saturnia and dates from the 12th century. It was restored in the early decades of the 20th century. The church contains a precious panel showing the «Madonna and Child between St. Sebastian and St. Mary Magdalene» attributed to the “Bottega” (studio) of Benvenuto di Giovanni* (1470-1524).

The Rocca di Saturnia is an imposing fortress with walls of stone. The curtain walls have sections with a sloping lower part and a series of arrow slits at different heights and perfectly preserved battlements. The two corner towers with circular bases were added by the Sienese in the fifteenth century.

In the City Museum you can learn more about the Etruscan monuments discovered near Saturnia. The museum holds many remains from the ancient «Urina» and the surrounding area, collected by scholars and lovers of the arts. Among these, the Ciacci collection comes from excavations in various parts of the region and from the necropolis of the “Puntone”, the closest to the Necropolis of Saturnia and situated on the right side of the river Albegna.

Hot Springs

Continue with a visit to the the Saturnia Thermae near Montmerano on the road to Manciano. These famous hot sulphur springs were already known by the Etruscans and the Romans for their remarkable healing properties.

A. Bacci, a 15th century physician, believed that the waters of Saturnia were particularly suitable for saunas and skin diseases. «The thermal springs emit sulfurous waters, particularly suitable to sweat (. ) [Its hot springs] are a great remedy for all sorts of skin diseases ] (De Thermis Andreae Baccii . [1571].)

This series of natural pools of hot water is open to the public without charge, and is a popular attraction in the region with Mill Pools and Gorello Falls the most visited section of the springs.

In the Spa centre established at the springs the thermal waters are complemented with techniques such as hydrotherapy, mud baths, diets, fitness, anti-stress techniques and beauty treatments. This part of your visit is not free however!

Note: photo of Terme di Saturnia is by Raimond Spekking — see copyright.

Attractions near Saturnia

With regard to the landscape, few writers have described the landscape of Saturnia as memorably as the English scholar George Dennis in the 19th century:

“Few ancient sites in Etruria have more natural beauties than Saturnia. Deep vallies and towering heights all around, yet variety in every quarter. Here the cliff-bound, olive-spread hill of Monte Merano; there the elm-tufted ridge of Scansano; and there the hoary crests of Monte Labbro and Santa Fiora. From the north. you command the whole valley of the Albegna” (G. Dennis, “The Cities and Cemeteries of Etruria”, London, 1848, Vol. II).

In the surrounding region you will also enjoy restaurants which invite you to spend time discovering the cuisine of Saturnia. Even those who frequent the baths to follow a strict diet will willingly forget it to try some local dishes such as soup, ricotta, ravioli filled with cheese and pepper, the “triangoloni” with mushrooms, ideally accompanied by one of the excellent local wines!

TERME DI SATURNIA – HOT SPRINGS IN TUSCANY

Terme di Saturnia is one of many Tuscan hot springs, from our observations the most popular of all. It’s not surprising that they are so popular! The water flowing down the white cascades forming azure-blue pools in the recesses, and the steam hovering above the thermal springs looks really magical and mysterious! Especially if you arrive during the golden hour – during sunset or sunrise. Terme di Saturnia are located near small town of Saturnia in the province of Grosetto in the south of Tuscany.

How did the Terme di Saturnia hot springs emerged?

There is a legend about creation of this amazing place, which tells about the fight of Jupiter and Saturn. The water rises to the surface in the place where Jupiter’s lightning hit. Legends are legends, but scientific facts tells us the place was created thanks to the extinct Monte Amiata volcano and rainwater. Water flows underground and escapes to the surface after 30 kilometers in a place we call Terme di Saturnia.

How to get to Terme di Saturnia?

Terme di Saturnia are located near the village of Saturnia in the province of Grosetto. However, to get there with GPS you have to enter ‘Cascate del Mulino‘ (Mulino is a mill in Italian), otherwise the navigation will lead you to artificial thermal pools located nearby, where there is also a hotel and spa. It’s worth knowing especially if you go at sunrise and have set amount of time to spend there, we drove pass the detour because it wasn’t very well marked, and navigated from a phone to artificial pools.

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Practical information on Terme di Saturnia

Entrance to the Terme di Saturnia hot springs area and the car park next to it are free. We got there at 5:50, which is about 15 minutes after sunrise, on Sunday during Covid times. At this time there were already a good few people. If you are focused on beautiful photos without people you have to get to the place before sunrise, and also avoid weekends, because locals also go there. The best light for photos is at sunrise and sunset. Not only those who chase beautiful photos come to the thermal baths at dawn also ones who simply want to take a dip. The water is hot and the air temperature in the morning is relatively low – make sense. Who would like to dabble in terribly warm water at 35 degrees heat?

It’s worth taking a towel with you – both for sitting and to cover yourself if you are going in the morning. After leaving hot water, 20 degrees air and light wind can cause goose bumps! Water shoes can also be useful, the baths look innocent but it’s really hard to move barefoot there because of the pebbles sticking in the feet.

We also advise you to keep an eye on your belongings, especially if you have documents or something expensive with you. Many people carelessly dropped belongings by the pools and rushed into the water, for the first 30 minutes it looked like a safe solution – only us and the locals around. After 30 minutes, we noticed young guys hanging around the Terme di Saturnia area who didn’t seem interested in bathing … Because of this we were taking a dip separately.

As we have already mentioned – the most beautiful photos come out there at sunrise and sunset, when the steam hovering above the water takes on shades of orange. During sunrise the sun is set ‘behind’ the thermal springs (at the top of the cascades), during sunset it illuminates the cascades in front. Our observations show that the best photos of Terme di Saturnia are those taken with a drone.

Where to stay? If you are going to the hot springs at sunrise, then probably the ideal choice would be to stop in the village of Saturnia. We spent the night in Pitigliano, which is a town located on top of a rock ridge, around 30min away from Terme di Saturnia. In Pitigliano there is scenic old town and many places to eat and drink to keep you occupied.

Other hot springs in Tuscany

Terme di Saturnia isn’t the only one, but by far the most popular hot springs in Tuscany. Despite the fact that they are crowded and super popular, in our opinion it’s one of the most beautiful places that we saw in Tuscany. However, if you are discouraged by crowds, you can choose places less visited:

Saturnia, Tuscany Terme di Saturnia

The town of Saturnia and the heat source is located in Manciano municipality and is an oasis of well-being and tranquillity in the middle of the southern Tuscany.

An oasis of wellness

The town of Saturnia and the heat source is located in the Manciano municipality and is an oasis of well-being and tranquility in the middle of the southern Tuscany. You are here close to the historical heritage and fascinating cities like Pitigliano, Sorano and Sovana; Lake Bolsena and the beautiful peninsula of Argentario.

Enjoy the hot springs by day or night

Terme di Saturnia is located at the foot of the medieval town of Saturnia and is surrounded by a beautiful park. It is a modern health spa with high quality facilities. The waters of Terme di Saturnia spring from a volcanic crater (where the spa has its swimming pool) and then runs for 500 metres along a natural creek. At one point in the flow of water, a natural waterfall occurs around an old mill and thus creates a number of natural baths in the rocks – these are called the Cascate del Mulino. If you want to experience the natural water source for free in nature, just 2 km outside the town of Saturnia you can take a free dip in the fierce currents from the source before the point of the waterfall. It is particularly beautiful to come here at night to bathe in the hot springs under a starry sky. Parking in connection with Cascate del Mulino takes place along the roadside.

The Spirit of Terme di Saturnia

The Terme di Saturnia and its sulphurous source comes from underground and shoots 800 litres of water per second at approximately 37 degrees. The source was already known by the Etruscans, who were aware of the water's miraculous effect. Later, from around 280 BC, it was the Romans who took advantage of the curative waters. A local symbol is a figure of a woman which adorns the fountain in the central square of the village, representing the Etruscan goddess Aurinia. Aurinia was renamed Saturnia by the Romans in the 2nd century B.C.

Health Benefits

The pure spring water is enriched with a high concentration of gases and mineral salts – surfaces in the large thermal pool at the centre of the resort at the constant temperature of 37.5°C. The same temperature as the amniotic fluid that protects humans at birth. namely sulfur-containing hydrogen and carbon dioxide. This composition is the secret to many health benefits including skin conditions, such as dermatitis, psoriasis and acne, Osteoarthromuscular conditions such as arthrosis, painful muscular contractions, and rheumatism, and also respiratory tract and ear, nose and throat ailments.

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