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Warmth and healing power of nature | Tuscan thermal baths

What a rich landscape in Tuscany! Not only the olive groves and vine- yards and mountains, the rich ore deposits exploited for centuries, or the quarries of Carrara with its world- famous marble: hot springs also contribute to a unique natural treasure that people have been using for thousands of years.

Thanks to geothermal phenomena, hot springs bubble up in Tuscany not only in the Biancane di Monterotondo Marittimo Nature Park, but in so many places that Tuscany has the most thermal springs in Italy. And already early one recognized the use of these thermal waters, which do not only provide warmth on cold days, but also unfold health effects. Already Etruscans and Romans knew to appreciate this: Today’s thermal baths of Venturina, for example, were known and loved in Etruscan times as “Caldana” and by the Romans as “Aquae Populoniae”, because 36° Celsius warm and sulfurous mineral waters pampered even then joints, bones, skin and the vapors helped bronchi and lungs. This has not changed until today.

Thanks to these treasures, Tuscany is an invitation to pleasure and health, because both can be perfectly combined here. And because many of the thermal baths are “only” walled or consist of natural pools, you can discover unique beautiful thermal experiences beyond spa & co.

The luxury of diving into the warm springs in the open air, at any time, completely free of charge, allows for unique experiences that are quiet, but all the more lasting for it. Among the most impressive natural spas are without a doubt those of Petriolo, located between the Val di Merse and the Maremma.

The thermal baths of Saturnia in the municipality of Manciano are not only among the most beautiful, because nature has grown here unique sinter terraces, in whose tubs you can indulge in the healing, warming water. They are also said to be of divine origin, because Saturn himself is said to have participated in their creation. According to the one legend, the pools were created by the lightning bolts that Saturn and Jupiter threw at each other in a quarrel. Another legend has not lost its hopeful character to this day: Saturn is said to have hurled lightning bolts out of anger at warlike humans. One of the lightning bolts struck a volcanic crater, from which warm sulfurous water gushed forth, pacifying the people and making them wiser and happier. A bath in the morning or evening hours bathes the terraces in soft light and the peaceful atmosphere brings the legend to life. A special moment!

Historical are also the thermal baths of San Casciano dei Bagni, a medieval town whose roots go back to Etruscans and Romans. They had discovered the hot springs for themselves and used the more than 40 springs for healing and bathing purposes. With the decline of the Roman Empire, the bathing business gradually came to a standstill and it was not until the 16th century that the benefits of the thermal waters were rediscovered. Today the historical pools are still preserved and it is possible to immerse oneself in the healing waters, sometimes hidden in the woods.

If you are in the splendid Orcia Valley, you should not miss Bagni San Filippo, the oldest spa in the world, with its natural springs. The hot springs were discovered by Filippo Benizi, who in 1271 escaped to the hermitage in the wild valley, which was inaccessible at the time, to avoid being elected Pope. The place and church were named after him, as he was later canonized. The small, milky white Rio Bianco carries 38°C to 52°C hot water that contains sulfate, calcium (carbonate) and magnesium as well as sulfur. It is captured in San Filippo itself in a small thermal bath. For little money, you can spend the whole day floating in the water, using the mineral-rich mud as a fango or scrub, inhaling the health-giving vapors, and indulging in the wonderful sensation of bathing in the midst of a shimmering white-turquoise opal.

However, if you leave civilization behind and take a short walk along the Rio, you will be rewarded with great nature and contemplation of peace and quiet. Not far from the village, the calcareous waters have caused the “Baleno Bianco”, the “white whale” to grow. The unique sinter terrace resembles the head of a mighty whale and used to be climbed to bathe in the natural tubs formed at the top. In the meantime, the “whale” is protected as a natural monument and may not be entered. But every bend of the brook offers new “bathing tubs”, surrounded by beautiful greenery and intact nature, so that one actually hardly gets ahead, because every scour tempts to take a bath.

If you follow the meandering stream towards the source, it becomes quieter, tranquility is transmitted to the people who distance themselves in mutual re- spect and let the inner contemplation work in this magical place. The “retreat”, the “retreat”, is proverbial, the energy of the place becomes palpable and takes you back to its originality for the moment. San Filippo, but also the other natural hot springs are worth a visit all year round, thanks to the hot springs, because enveloped by the warmth of the water you can enjoy a unique natural spectacle when it is cold: Rising vapors and clouds of mist conjure up mystical atmospheres, bring fantasy worlds to life, you sub- merge yourself and surrender to the imagination....

Natural and historical spas exert their special charm, but no less so are the elegant spas and baths perfect destinations for relaxation and to discover Tuscany with all your senses. The fabulous Fonteverde Spa Center in San Casciano dei Bagni is one example, the unique Grotta Giusti Spa with its 200 meters long natural thermal grotto another. Or Bagni di Pisa and the thermal baths of Sassetta, which together with the biodynamically managed agriculture of La Cerreta form a highly exclusive ensemble.

Not to be forgotten is the town of Montecatini Terme (UNESCO spa town and Great Spas of Europe) with its many architecturally impressive thermal baths and spas of different centuries. Among the most famous are Terme Tettuccio, designed by Gaspare Maria Paoletti, and Terme Leopoldine. Gorgeous Belle Epoque and Art Nouveau buildings establish Montecatini’s reputation as a unique spa town and center of Art Nouveau..

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