I’ve heard people talking about Saturnia since ever: friends in love with this place, others who wish to go there, by Italian famous tv speaker Alberto Angela and even in a great novel by Niccolo Ammaniti “I’ll steal you away.” As always, however, I’m keener on visiting faraway destinations than those close by, and I, therefore, kept postponing my stay in Saturnia…
Recently, however, I discovered Maremma, the wonderful and wild southern Tuscany, and I couldn’t help but fall in love with it. In autumn and winter, it’s especially touching, with its silences, the beauty of its warm colors, and history all around… I decided to spend a week in Borgo Magliano to visit the Argentario, the historical villages of Maremma, and finally the thermal baths of Saturnia in the town of Manciano.
When collecting info on how to get to Saturnia, I read that Etruscans and Romans already knew its hot waters, and therefore, lots of legends spread out century after century. The kind of detail I love <3 According to the Romans, Jupiter hurled a thunderbolt against Saturn, missing it and hitting the ground… in that point, a miraculous water spring immediately came out. During the Middle Ages, these natural phenomena were obviously interpreted negatively, and legends were at best linked to the presence of Evil, Satanic rituals, and witchcraft …
Once there, I found out that you have two options to be soothed – and cured – by the sulfurous waters of Saturnia: the beautiful waterfalls that form picturesque pools next to the mill on Gorello stream or the Terme di Saturnia Spa & Golf Resort built a few hundred meters upstream, right on the volcanic crater from which the thermal water flows at 37 ° for thousands of years. I couldn’t help but try both options!
Terme di Saturnia SPA & Golf Resort
The Terme di Saturnia Spa & Golf Resort is a charming property surrounded by a beautiful park at the foot of the village of Saturnia, composed of a luxury hotel, a spa, and a golf course.
The spa dates back to the 80s, and you can actually see it. It is definitely convenient and well run, but somewhat sterile for my taste. It’s open every day (until 5:00 p.m. in winter and until 7:00 p.m. from the end of March to the end of October), and the ticket costs 25 € for the whole day or 20 € in the afternoon. Medical visits are free, while specific treatments prescribed by the doctor (mud therapy and bath therapy for dermatitis, rheumatism, etc. and inhalations for the respiratory tract) are paid by the Italian National Health Service once a year for Italian residents and are subject to specific cost estimation for residents in other countries. I checked for my psoriasis 🙂
The spa pools are huge and look very much like those of a large touristy resort equipped with relaxation areas, indoor space, bridges, and artificial waterfalls. You also get changing rooms with lockers and showers, which is very useful because the sulfur water is warm and beneficent. Still, the smell permeates everything and everyone … Don’t forget to pack a bathing suit and flip-flops, a towel, shampoo, shower gel, and conditioner! Also, remember to take off metal jewelry because sulfur oxidizes them in no time!
The hotel and the historic pool, open only to guests of the resort or accessible with an extra 25 €, are beautiful and were inaugurated in the early twentieth century when scholars from the Universities of Siena, Pisa, and Rome confirmed the healing properties of the local water.
The natural waterfalls thermal baths of Saturnia
I wrote it earlier, the mill’s waterfalls in Saturnia are splendid, whether you stop the car to admire them from the road coming down from Manciano or a few meters away. It’s impossible not to take a picture of this place that really seems enchanted and built only to create perfect postcards …
These small pools in the Tuscan countryside, dug in the travertine stone by the water itself, are always open and free. Even on winter rainy days, there is always someone blissfully soaking in hot water, because let’s face it, floating in the warm water with steam blurring the landscape all around really is a pleasure!
Being a natural site surrounded by nature, you should wear flip-flops and a bathrobe with the swimsuit before getting out of the car and carry a plastic bag for the wet, smelly items. There are only a few hundred meters from the parking lot to the falls, and if you opt for a night swim, do not forget a flashlight because the path is very dark. Next to the car park, there is also a bar with public toilets, but when I was there it was closed.
The village of Saturnia
The village of Saturnia has Roman origins and is worth a visit. I particularly liked the Rocca Aldobrandesca along the ancient walls, the Archaeological and Art Museum of Maremma, and the church of Santa Maria Maddalena with its nice paintings.
It would help if you also had lunch or dinner at Bacco e Cerere on Via Mazzini while you’re here. It’s small and very cozy, and the owner/cook loves Maremma cuisine and honors it with generous yummy portions. Even the wine selections are excellent.
As per the accommodation, as anticipated I Borgo Magliano is a great basis to visit Maremma, because beautiful, central, airy and because its “Punto e a capo” restaurant is true gem. My dinners there were a true pleasure evening after evening!