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Hot springs square, Bagno Vignoni
Photo © Marcel Fagin
Photo © Marcel Fagin

Bathing like the Etruscans

Discovering ancient and modern thermal baths in Bagno Vignoni and Chianciano Terme

Etruscans sure knew how to live back in the 7th century BC: eating good food, drinking good wine and then relaxing in natural thermal baths. And maybe this is why they settled in Tuscany: indeed, the region is home to numerous hot springs and offers a lot of thermal pools and spas. If you happen to be in the Val D’Orcia valley, Bagno Vignoni and Chianciano Terme should definitely be on your to-do list.

  • 1.
    Bagno Vignoni
  • 2.
    Chianciano Terme

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Bagno Vignoni

Parco dei Mulini, Bagno Vignoni
Parco dei Mulini, Bagno Vignoni - Credit: Gael Bassetto

In this charming little town located on the top of a hill in the Val D’Orcia, you will get to experience the ancient thermal bath tradition of Tuscany. The main square of the village, called “Piazza delle Sorgenti” (or hot springs square), includes a large 16th-century pool which contains hot springs waters which therapeutic benefits have been known for centuries.
Indeed, the hot springs from Bagno Vignoni used to be a relaxing stop-over for pilgrims making their way through the famous Via Francigena – a catholic pilgrim route from France to Rome.
Although it is no longer possible to plunge into the warm waters of the ancient pool, you can still bathe and enjoy spa treatments at the three accommodation facilities there: Le Terme Spa & Resort – which is located right in the central square - the Hotel Posta Marcucci - with outdoor and indoor pools - and the Terme Hotel Adler - with the charming Grotta Salina.
Bathing in those pools is the best way to experience Etruscan customs. Indeed, contrarily to the Romans, the Etruscans did not use thermal waters primarily as a means to relax. They rather considered those hot springs and natural pools as sacred, and as a manifestation of the divine. As if the human body could be cleaned and empowered by the mystical underground powers of water.
Thermal waters, and also the mud surrounding the pools, were therefore used to treat a series of diseases, including rheumatism and osteoarthritis. Quite interestingly, they were also used by young women to receive the sacred gift of fertility.

Chianciano Terme

Chianciano Terme Sensory Spa
Chianciano Terme Sensory Spa - Credit: Stefano Cannas

If you are looking for a more complete and modern spa experience, then Chianciano Terme is where you should go. The large spa complex of Chianciano Terme is just a 30-minute drive away from Bagno Vignoni, and offers everything for the perfect and relaxing spa experience.
Chianciano Terme includes natural springs, thermal pools and baths, large parks but also a sensory spa, which I highly recommend.
The sensory spa offers visitors a journey through different pools, hammams and saunas, all based on sensorial experiences. You will float in salted water pools, feel reinvigorated after walking on pebble stones with warm and cold water sprays, or relaxed after sitting in an Etruscan hammam, where steam has a delicate smell of flowers, herbs and honey. Finally, one thing that you should not miss: covering yourself up with either relaxing or energizing mud.
If you want to prolong your stay at Chianciano Terme, you can also book a series of massages, skincare and body treatments.

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