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In Tuscany, hot springs, natural pools and thermal spa resorts are a wonderful way to experience the countryside, but how do you know where to go? Search no more. Here are the top hot springs in Tuscany, with a rundown on some of the best spa resorts and natural pools.
Hot Springs in Tuscany
Renting a villa in Tuscany is so done (though still very fun). Today, the buzz is on Tuscany hot springs and spas. With steaming thermal springs spouting out everywhere through the rolling countryside, the real fun is getting into hot water.
Whether you want to soak in a natural hot springs in the countryside or relax at a 5-star spa resort, Tuscany’s best hot springs destinations have you covered.
But how do you know where to go? It’s not as if there is a lot of info in English out there. At least that’s what I found when I was searching for the lowdown.
One way to choose a spa in Tuscany is to go there and explore the countryside for yourself. That’s what I did. Over my past few trips, I’ve stuffed in as many natural hot springs, thermal baths and luxury spa resorts as I could. Now I’m passing the info on to you. First, let’s take a quick look at the spa tradition in Italy.
The tradition of thermal springs in Tuscany
The spa culture of Tuscany goes back even before the Romans to the Etruscans, who built temples to their gods around the area’s thermal springs. The springs, burbling out of the ground so mysteriously, were considered sacred, and were often used as settings for religious ceremonies and rites.
The Romans were huge believers in the power of spas, and built elaborate bathing complexes to harness the power of the naturally-heated water. You can see remnants of the baths in places such as Petriolo, one of the Tuscan hot springs I’ll mention below.
Later, the powerful Medici family not only patronized spas in Tuscany, but built grand villas here. Today, the original Medici portico at the spa resort of Fonteverde still stands.
It wasn’t only aristocrats who made use of the healing thermal springs in Tuscany. Medieval pilgrims, following the Via Francigena path to Rome, stopped at thermal springs such as Gambassi Terme and Bagno Vignoni to rest and soak their weary bodies before continuing on.
A history of healing
Long considered therapeutic, Tuscany’s hot springs are still used to treat various illnesses. Spa doctors abound in the hotels and clinics, and the Italian government subsidizes spa stays for particular ailments for their citizens.
Where they go depends on their health issues as well as the mineral content, temperature and location of a particular springs.
Most travelers, however, just want a place to unwind, enjoy the thermal baths and beautiful surroundings. Fortunately there are many hot springs spas in Tuscany that offer just that.
If you’re familiar with this blog, you’ll know I’m a huge fan of hot springs spas and thermal pools so this article focuses on places in Tuscany where you can soak in the water, either at spa hotels, day spa resorts or free natural pools.
Why visit a thermal hot springs in Tuscany?
The setting. The hills of Tuscany are incredibly scenic with their cypress trees, endless hills and soft colours. Best of all, you can order up your thermal baths the way you want them, from basic ‘splash-around-in-hot-springs’ natural streams to 5-star resorts.
Italy has some of the best spa towns in Europe and Tuscany has more hot springs than any other region in Italy.
You go to a Tuscan hot springs for fun. Hot springs pools and dreamy spa resorts are just plain pleasurable, whether you’re hanging out with the earthy crowd at a free natural springs or bathing in thermal splendour at a luxury spa.
Wellness. Hot springs can be healing, and a wellness stay can help prevent illness and treat sore muscle aches.
Relaxation. Aren’t we all burned out? Life is too hectic and there is nothing like a steaming mineral bath to slow you down.
The Best Hot Springs in Tuscany
The best known hot springs in Tuscany is Saturnia, about 190 km (120 miles) south of Florence. Here you can find a luxury spa hotel, the Terme di Saturnia, complete with outdoor pools, deluxe accommodation and a full-service spa. The coolest (or hottest) thing about the pools at the spa resort is that you’re soaking right over the volcanic crater from where the springs come out.
Day trips to Saturnia
You don’t need to be staying at the Terme di Saturnia resort to use the pools. They have a large section for day visitors.
Free Natural Springs at Saturnia
There are also open-air hot springs about six km (4 miles) outside Saturnia called the Cascate del Mulino, which cascade down the hill in a rush of terraces and steaming water. They’re crowded, but no end of fun, and you can see why Saturnia is so popular, because you’ll find something for both luxury travellers and natural hot springs lovers on a budget of zero.
Where is Saturnia?
Saturnia is located in the Maremma, a corner of southern Tuscany where few first-time-to-Italy tourists go. It’s 180 km from Rome, and driving is by far the best option, but it’s possible to take a train to Orbetello and then a bus to Manciano and then another bus from there.
You might find it worth it: The steamy sulphurous springs at Terme di Saturnia were well loved by the Etruscans and Romans and are just as beloved today. To read more about it, go to my Terme di Saturnia Review.
Three Luxury Tuscany Resorts
There are three luxury spa resorts with thermal pools that are all owned by the same company, the Italian Hospitality Collection. These are Bagni di Pisa, Grotta Giusti Spa Hotel Tuscany and Fonteverde Tuscany Spa and Resort.
All three spa resorts offer high-end spa experiences with stunning architecture, fabulous Italian cuisine (unless you’re on one of their weight loss program, then you might not be quite as excited), and thermal pools fed by local hot springs.
Each has a distinct personality, however, so to help you choose the spa in Tuscany that’s right for you, here’s a quick rundown on each.
Bagni di Pisa in San Guiliamo Terme
This is a spa worthy of Frankenstein – because even hideous beasts like to get pampered. Oh, okay, it was actually Mary Shelley, the author of Frankenstein who visited the luxury Tuscany spa destination of Bagni di Pisa in San Giuliamo Terme along with her husband, Percy Shelley, and Lord Byron.
This was back when it was a luxurious private villa owned by the Duke of Tuscany. (And since Frankenstein existed in Mary Shelley’s head, he was technically here.)
Today Bagni di Pisa is an upscale hot springs hotel and spa with indoor and outdoor thermal pools, lavish architecture and a setting in the Tuscan hills just a few miles from Pisa.
While the pools aren’t large, the architecture and history makes Bagni di Pisa Natural Spa Resort stand out. To this day, my suite (Room 215 in the ‘Noblemen’s Hall’), with its high ceilings and 18th-century ceiling fresco wins for my favourite hotel room of all time. And the Shelley Bar is sumptuous.
Bagni di Pisa spa is also well known for its weight loss programs, and is conveniently located near the Tuscan cities of Pisa and Lucca. In fact, you can practically see the Leaning Tower of Pisa from your room.
Where is Bagni di Pisa spa resort? It’s located at Largo Shelley, 18. San Giuliano Terme 56017 Pisa Tel.: +39 050 8850.
Getting to Bagni di Pisa: If you’re not driving, take a taxi or train from Pisa. That’s what I did.
Grotta Giusti Natural Spa Resort – Monsummano Terme
Grotta Giusti Natural Spa Resort is a Tuscan resort set in a restored 19th-century villa, and has plenty of water facilities. It’s a romantic destination, and ideal for couples who want a break. If you’re looking for a hot springs near Florence, this might be a good choice as it’s 40 km (30 miles) away.
The hotel is very traditional, with excellent service and fine dining, and for diversion you can hike into the hills behind the spa or into the town of Monsummano Terme below.
In the spa section of Grotta Giusti, (pronounced chiusti), the most unique thing to do is to visit the steamy grotto that offers natural detoxifying treatments in a 1,000 year-old otherworldly cave.
The cave is quite ghostly and beautiful as all the guests wear special hemp robes as they pad through the four different levels – Paradise, Purgatory, Limbo and Hell – in absolute silence. The humid air, enriched with the steam from the springs, is a cavernous subterranean path to wellness – though I liked the experience more than my husband did. He prefers the outdoor pools.
In one of the most unusual spa packages I’ve ever heard of, guests can combine a spa sojourn with a diving expedition in the cave’s thermal lake. Bizarre. And fun. (Except I don’t dive and would much rather lie on a massage table.)
Day visits to Grotta Giusti
But it’s the hot springs themselves that draw most visitors, and there are day spa facilities. Grotta Giusti has fabulous outdoor pools fed by the local hot springs. One pool is for hotel guests only and a larger one is for both hotel guests and day trippers.
Where is Grotta Giusti Spa? It’s 40 km from Florence at Via Grottagiusti, 1411—51015—Monsummano Terme, Toscana Tel.: +39 0572 90771.
Getting there: If you’re not driving you can take the train from Florence to Montecatini, then take a taxi from the Montecatini Terme train station, which is about four kilometres away.
Montecatini Spa Town
Just five km away from Monsummano Terme and Grotta Giusti is the famous spa town of Montecatini, one of the largest thermal spa towns in Italy. Here the focus is on drinking the water rather than soaking in it, and there are no outdoor pools for day visitors, though if you’re determined to have a mineral bath in Tuscany, and this is your only chance, you can visit the indoor pool at Redi Spa.
The big thing to do in Montecatini is to visit the impressive water drinking pavilion, Tettuccio Terme, an ornate Art Nouveau spa building where you can sample the mineral-rich thermal springs.
I’ve written an entire article on Montecatini, Italy (which, I say, humbly, won for Best Leisure or Wellness Article in the 2018 Travel Media Association of Canada Awards), so you can read more than you ever wanted to know about this interesting spa town in Tuscany.
It also has more hotels than you can possibly imagine, from the elegant Grand Hotel & Le Pace Spa, where Audrey Hepburn once stayed, to the more affordable Ercolini & Savi – so if you’re looking for a base between Florence and Lucca, it may work for you.
Fonteverde – San Casciano dei Bagni
Fonteverde Natural Spa Resort is possibly the most glamorous hot springs hotel and spa in Tuscany. Scenically set in the hills of Siena, mid way between Florence and Rome, this 5-star spa resort attracts a sophisticated clientele seeking a relaxed country getaway. (Rumour has it Penelope Cruze and Michael J. Fox have both been here, but I don’t know if it’s true or not.)
I can substantiate that the original Medici portico of the building still stands, and that there are extensive water facilities at the spa.
Once a renaissance palace owned by the Grand Duke Ferdinando I de’ Medici, Fonteverde resort offers panoramic views of the gentle hills beyond and its extensive spa has an airy contemporary feel, with a number of pools, sauna facilities, treatment rooms and relaxation areas.
The springs were also a sacred site for the ancient Etruscans (ask at the front desk to be let into the church that was formerly a pagan temple).
Where is Fonteverde Spa? It’s located at Localita’ Terme 1—53040 San Casciano Dei Bagni, Tuscany Tel.: +39 0578 57241.
Getting there: if you’re not driving the spa can arrange a private transfer from Chiusi Train Station — about 20 minutes away.
Day spa: Yes, you can visit the pools at Fonteverde for the day, or arrange for a treatment.
Bagno Vignoni – Val d’Orcia
Located in the lovely Val d’Orcia, Bagno Vignoni is one of my favourite spas in Tuscany, mainly because of its casual low-key charm. Once a pilgrimage stop on the Canterbury to Rome route, the town of Bagno Vignoni has an eye-catching pool in the main square where pilgrims once bathed their feet, but which is not in use today.
The urge to jump in is almost overwhelming, but you’ll just have to hold yourself back. There are other places for your mineral baths.
The hot springs pools at the Hotel Posta Marucucci
To spa and relax at the hot springs you have a couple of options. We loved the outdoor hot springs pools, the Piscina Val di Sole at the 3-star Hotel Posta Marcucci (closed from Jan to April), even though it’s more laid back than luxurious.
You can get a day pass, and many people do, but we stayed the night at the hotel so we had free pool access. It seemed more economical, and while our room was plain, the hotel had a dining room with a view and gets great reviews.
Adler Thermae Spa and Resort at Bagno Vignoni
Another way to spa in Bagno Vignoni is to go luxe at the upscale Adler Thermae Spa and Resort. Popular with North American spa guests, Adler rivals Fonteverde for a luxury hot springs resort in Tuscany. Located just outside town, it looks divine. I’ve wandered in, but never stayed, though I have a friend who has raved about it for years.
Albergo Le Terme
One other hotel with thermal water, with a central location in town, but not with the outdoor pools or extensive grounds like the Hotel Posta Marcucci is Albergo Le Terme.
Free natural hot springs at Bagno Vignoni
Since we had access to the spacious grounds and pools at the Hotel Posta Marcucci, we didn’t go searching for the free natural hot springs at the Natural Park of the Mills (Parco Naturale dei Mulini), which are apparently tricky to find. For the intrepid traveler, the park is at Via del Gorello, 53027 Bagno Vignoni SI, Italy.
Where is Bagno Vignoni? Bagno Vignoni is about 133 km from Florence in the province of Siena.
Getting to Bagno Vignoni: Like most spas in Tuscany, driving is the easiest way to get there. By public transportation you can take a train to Buonconvento Station which is 22 km away. There is bus service from there.
Bagni San Filippo
It’s only a 30-minute drive to Bagni San Filippo from Bagno Vignoni, a Tuscany hot springs destination situated between the Val d’Orcia and Mount Amiata, about a 15-minute drive from San Quirico d’Orcia and Pienza.
The outdoor public thermal pool is basic but large, but the grounds are minimal so we didn’t want to linger all day. After soaking we tried to find the wild natural springs and waterfalls in the woods that I’ve heard so much about, especially the calcium-encrusted waterfall called the ‘White Whale.’
Free Natural Springs at Bagni San Filippo
The White Whale is a spectacular natural formation created by the calcium in the water that gets left behind as the springs flow downstream.
Apparently there is an easy path along the river, but we missed it. Instead, we ended up tramping around through the forest for an hour before giving up and driving to Bagno di Vignoni, which, since we ended up liking it so much, was all good.
Would I give Bagni San Filippo another try? Absolutely, but we’d either arrive earlier or book a room ahead, because the spa hotel was booked full when we tried to stay the night.
The hotel connected to the hot springs is Hotel Terme San Filippo & Spa.
A Hot Springs Near Siena
Petriolo Spa Resort
Even though my husband and I were renting an apartment in Umbria, we decided to take off and spend a luxurious weekend at a Tuscany hot springs hotel and spa called Petriolo Spa Resort. If you’re looking for a hot springs near Siena, this is the spa for you.
The weekend will go down in history as one of our top getaways of all time. (The only downside was when I was given a flat Prosecco one night at dinner at the hotel, and when I complained, the waiter stopped being friendly for the duration of our say. But at least I had excellent Prosecco.
We still talk about our room (my husband and I, not the waiter and I), which was flooded with light, had an ornate chandelier, hints of gilt and a glam red marble bathroom.
Petriolo Spa Resort sits just off the highway. This could be off-putting except once you’re in the hotel you don’t notice it, at least we didn’t. We were too busy facing the other way enjoying the view of the Tuscan scenery; lounging in the to-die-for outdoor pools at the hotel, which are so full of calcium powder that you can scoop it up by the handful.
Free natural hot springs at Petriolo
We also wandered down the hillside through the forest to the natural springs on the banks of the Farma River. The free natural springs are a bit New-Age-y where, in addition to Italian hippies, you can also see the ruins of ancient Roman baths.
A third option to experience the hot springs at Petriolo is at the public spa, the Terme di Petriolo. This has cheaper spa treatments than the deluxe Petriolo Spa Resort where we stayed, but the pool isn’t huge and it’s not nearly as luxe. It’s not the type of place I’d want to spend the whole day.
Where is Terme di Petriolo? Petriolo thermal springs are near the town of Monticiano, 30-minutes south of Siena on the road between Siena and Grosseto.
Tuscany Hot Springs Wrap Up
If you’ve been searching for the best hot springs in this wonderful part of Italy, hopefully this travel blog post will help, whether you’re searching for natural hot springs or 5-star resorts.
Mineral baths and thermal springs are a great way to connect with the countryside – in the most liquid dreamy way – so why not give one a try? It’s hard to find a better way to experience Tuscany.