Hot springs and good wine, two basic elements for well-being and quality of life. The Etruscans knew them very well and used both. They often went to the hot springs, gaining benefit not only for themselves, but also for their animals, discovering natural springs and the commodity of the hot pools, real temples of well-being. To complete this well-being with joy, they produced and drank very good wines, for the satisfaction of all the senses.
From Arezzo to Cortona, Etruscan and medieval memories
One of the 12 powerful Etruscan lucumos, then a Roman defence, Arezzo has a wonderful historical centre and is the residence of the Archaeological Museum dedicated to Gaio Cilnio Mecenate. Heading south one arrives at Castiglion Fiorentino, a small medieval town of the Valdichiana and a flourishing Etruscan centre, with ancient walls and towers enclosing the centre of the city. From here to Cortona, another Estruscan lucumo, then a Roman city and then a Medieval city, which is the residence of the MAEC – Etruscan and Cortona Academy Museum. All around this area there are Etruscan ruins, not only in the museums but also in their original sites, such as Sodo, where Melone I and II del Sodo are, and in Camucia, where the famous Tumulo is.
Montepulciano: Renaissance, noble wines and unique springs
The lands of Siena are just around the corner, and passing by Torrita di Siena, one arrives at Montepulciano, the “Renaissance Pearl”, between Valdichiana and Val d’Orcia, reign of the Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, where the Chiesa di San Biagio also deserves attention, a wonderful example of Renaissance architecture by Antonio da Sangallo. In Montepulciano compulsory stops are its ancient cellar and a treatment in the hot springs, in località Sant’Albino, 3 km away from the centre, where the sulphurous-salty-bromine-iodic-bicarbonate waters flow in pure open-air pools set in enchanting landscapes. Montepulciano is also a good departure point for a visit to Val D’Orcia and Crete, to then reach the luxuriant Monte Amiata.
Val d’Orcia, the discovery of the thermal springs
On the Strada del Vino Orcia, one passes through Abbadia San Salvatore, Buonconvento, Castiglione d’Orcia, Chianciano Terme, Montalcino, Pienza, Radicofani, San Casciano dei Bagni, San Giovanni d’Asso, San Quirico d’Orcia, Sarteano, Torrita di Siena and Trequanda. This is a land characterized by pleasant hills, and its, Crete – white, dome-shaped hills, fields of cereals, and olive groves, as well as the famous vineyards.
In Chianciano Terme the Museo delle Acque preserves several Etruscan ruins, evidence of the historical wine production of the area – an ancient Etruscan farm with its grape presses – and the religious attention of the ancient civilization for the hot springs of the area, as highlighted by the votive statues, and the stones recalling the curative features of these springs. It is possible to relax and regenerate in these waters thanks to the several services offered, such as the Sensorial Hot Springs, the thermal pools Theia, the Terme Sillene and the Parchi Acqua Santa e Fucoli around them.
San Casciano dei Bagni is an ancient small town known for its millenary natural springs pouring out rich waters. It was built on an ancient Medicean portico, commissioned by The Grand Duke Ferdinando I de’ Medici in 1607, and faces the wonderful landscape of Val D’Orcia. Departing from here, following beautiful roads immersed in nature one reaches the old small villages of Mount Amiata – Abbadia San Salvatore, Santa Fiora, Arcidosso, Castel del Piano, Seggiano, Castelnuovo dell’Abate – finally coming to the Abbazia di Sant’Antimo, and then Montalcino, famous for its wines.
Or, after a quick passage through Radicofani, famous for the Rocca di Ghino di Tacco, one can stop at Bagni San Filippo, where the white calcareous deposits created marvellous paths through nature and make this place one of the most suggestive in Tuscany. The warm waters with sulphur, calcium and magnesium and the quiet environment are conducive to total relaxation and well-being.
Finally, one comes to the Terme di Santa Caterina in Bagno Vignoni, a suggestive small medieval town in the heart of the Parco della Val d’Orcia, a cultural landscape inscribed in the list of UNESCO World Heritages, situated in S. Quirico d’Orcia, which developed around the great pool from which the miraculous waters spout, famous since ancient times. First the Etruscans and then the Romans consecrated these springs to the gods. The sulphurous-bicarbonate-alkaline-muddy and hyper thermal waters of Bagno Vignoni, flow out at 50/52°C and are still widely used as a cure for arthritis and rheumatic conditions combined with bathing and mud-therapy treatments.