When you just cannot take another museum, monument or a non-stop day of walking, thinking about visiting one of Italy’s many terme or natural springs. There are a variety of baths in Italy offering various therapeutic properties – curing everything from liver ailments to arthritis to offering anti-aging benefits.
In our case a few weeks back, we went to the baths of Saturnia in order to take a little breather from Christmas festivities and one family get together after another, not to mention the days of endless eating.
Saturnia is located in between Rome and Florence in Tuscany. However, it is slightly closer to Rome than Florence. You need a car to get there.
You have two main options for enjoying these waters: free and rustic or fee and luxury.
Option one: Free and rustic. Yes, you read correctly…something free in Italy. Head to the Cascate del Mulino (or Cascate del Gorelle as noted on some street signs and the parking area). These falls are oddly easy to access by car for Italian standards. There is a designated parking lot, but also free parking along the street that leads up to the falls. Once there, strip down to your swimsuit and carefully get in the 98 degree water – the perfect temperature even for a cold December day. Anyway, I say to carefully step in because the water is not clear (the color of the water is an opaque blue due to the sulfur content.) You cannot see the rocks and not only that, they are slippery – so make sure to also bring a pair of aqua shoes. But once you are in, relax and make sure to scooch on over to the natural falls for a shoulder massage. This place is also wonderful for the kids. There were even parents with babies. You can access these falls 24-7. We have been told that visiting them at night by the light of the moon is fab.
Option two: Fee and luxury. To access the thermal pools go to the Terme di Saturnia Golf and Resort. Don’t be intimidated by the name. It is true this is a resort, but you can buy a ticket just to use the pools without using the whole resort. Here you will find a variety of outdoor swimming pools and jacuzzis with the same opaque blue water, minus the slimy rocks. The entrance fee to the pool includes use of the showers, changing rooms, etc. They also had a cafe’ and bar with fair prices.
Here is their website for opening times, prices, etc…
As I mentioned, we were there in December and both locations had the perfect amount of people – enough to feel in company but not too overcrowded. Although it was of interest that there were any Italians AT ALL as Italians really have a problem with drastic changes in temperature as well as being wet as it relates to their well-being. One of the biggest health dangers here is called “Colpo di Aria.” This means getting hit by a draft or the deadly air-conditioner (ha, ha, ha, ha)….but ok….this discussion is for another post.
In the end, I preferred the rustic option, just for the sheer uniqueness of the experience, but the luxury route was very relaxing and much more convenient. I suggest hitting both locations as we did, they are right down the street from one other. Note: make sure you bring towels for BOTH locations.