A water route to discover thermal spas, the Tuscan oases for wellness and relaxation

Spa is the acronym of salus per aquam, the Latin phrase that literally means “health through water”.

Today, this phrase can be summed up in one word: “wellness”. And in the region of Tuscany, a land rich in thermal water springs known even in ancient times, the Perini Journal has visited some fascinating and exclusive thermal spas, modern temples of well-being and today precious locations where to find one’s own rhythm in time, following the natural and physiological rhythms of one’s body.


Lucia Maffei

Our trip begins as we head towards Bagni di Lucca, a spa resort town located at the foot of the Apennine mountain chain. The healing properties of its waters were well known already in the year 1000 AD, in the epoch of Countess Matilde di Canossa. But it was in the XIX century that a séjour in Bagni di Lucca became a veritable status symbol for the reigning families. The spas hosted kings and queens, the most important representatives of the European nobility, men of politics, travelers and many, many artists – from Byron to Shelley, from Mascagni to Puccini. For the beauty of its landscapes, the tranquility of the environment as well as the efficacy of its water treatments and the splendid natural steam grottos, Bagni di Lucca was defined as the “Italian Switzerland”. Going towards the center of Tuscany, in the direction of Pistoia and Florence, we find Montecatini Terme and Mosummano Terme. Montecatini is without a doubt the veritable ville d’eau. Nine large spa houses that recall the liberty-style magnificence of treatment centers of the XX century make this Tuscan city one of the largest Italian spa centers.


THE CONSTRUCTION OF THESE IMPOSING BUILDINGS DATES BACK TO THE XVIII CENTURY when the grand-duke Leopoldo drained the area and hydraulically regimented the thermal waters. The Tettuccio house makes for a mandatory visit: built in 1779, it represents a marvelous and precious example of neoclassical style, still today intact. These nine houses allow the visitor to choose among the many diverse natural therapies, from the most classical hydropinic treatments up to suggestive wellness itineraries based on holistic and Ayurvedic principles.

In the rich Italian spa panorama, Monsummano Terme distinguishes itself for its hot springs grottos where taking a steam bath in the depths of the earth takes on an almost magical allure. The thermal grottos are natural cavities characterized by a very special micro-climate that has extraordinary therapeutic effects, known and used for centuries in the so-called antrotherapy. The Grotta Giusti is something like 130 million years old and was discovered by chance in 1849, following an accidental explosion in a nearby quarry. Today, Grotta Giusti is the heart of one of the most exclusive spa resorts in all of Tuscany. Surrounded by 45 hectares of park, it entertains guests with a beautiful 18-hole golf course and a spa where it is possible to choose everything from treatments based on precious thermal mud to the Tibetan massage or Cikitsa Yoga. The spa also proposes an ample and catered line of treatments “especially for men”.


OUR SPA ITINERARY CONTINUES IN THE HEART OF TUSCANY in an area of famous art and culture locations that are unique in the world: Siena, Pienza and Montalcino. Traveling along the hills of Siena where “the street crosses a rough sea of leached clay”, as described in a poem by Mario Luzi, we reach Rapolano. Here we find another thermal water springs and another small and catered spa, the Terme di San Giovanni. Four hot sulfurous water pools are located at the bottom of a soft valley. The hotel and spa are instead located inside a building that reminds one of a large colonial house. Rapolano is a unique place, a haven of tranquility with traditional hospitality and where the wellness itineraries and treatments are all dedicated to relaxing the body and catering to interior harmony.

Our “water route” continues among the soft hills of Siena and reaches Val d’Orcia, a land of uncontaminated landscapes. Here, a stop at Bagno Vignoni is a must. This enchanted borough is different from all other thermal spa centers: just a very few houses built all around an enormous pool of steaming thermal water that designates the beginning and the end of the center of this very small village. Only a stone border limits the water from overflowing and a small inhabited portico, dedicated to Saint Catherine of Siena, runs along its side. And that’s all. There’s nothing else. But at first sight, it is really unique and if one goes there in winter-time, it is spontaneous to ask oneself if we are still in Tuscany or in a fairytale, so suggestive is the steam coming from the thermal water that slides silently among the houses and the columns, creating a magical and surreal atmosphere. Two totally different addresses are found there: the Hotel Posta Marcucci, small, traditional family-run hotel with a nice thermal water pool, and an exclusive spa resort born just a few years ago, the Adler Thermae. The Adler has enormous pools at different temperatures and a large wellness center hosting a saline grotto, many areas for hydro-massage, saunas and steam baths based on herbs and aromas.

Going farther south, we reach the town of San Casciano dei Bagni and the Fonteverde Natural Spa Resort, cult lieu for lovers of spa water. The forty-two water springs that spout from the depths of the earth at a temperature of 42°C were already well known by the Latin poet Horace, who exalted their therapeutic virtues. Today Fonteverde, recognized as one of the best and more exclusive Italian spas, is surely an oasis where each of the five senses is catered to and pampered in order to re-establish a complete balance – physical and emotional – based on the slow and natural rhythms of wellness.

Saturnia is the last stop of our journey. An enchanted location that has a unique charm in winter due to the mists and steam that rise in the air and gently envelop everything, making the surrounding landscape surreal. Its waters, very rich in sulfur, flow in what was the cradle of Etruscan civilization, in the Grosseto Maremma area. Very large pools with water at 37°C, a very exquisite spa and a hotel that looks directly on the springs’ pool are the cornerstones of this thermal center that is part of The Leading Resort Hotels of the World. This spring, known and used by the Etruscans first and by the Romans later, is one of the most famous spa centers in the world not only for its incomparable therapeutic efficacy, but also for the incredible landscape that surrounds it. Within a few miles’ radius, a handful of small and wonderful burghs can be found, perched on the hills: Sovana, Montemerano, Pitigliano, Manciano, Scansano, Sorano, Magliano and, just a little farther on the Tyrrhenian coast, Capalbio and the Argentario.

At the end of this journey towards the discovery of precious locations that heal the body in order to also heal the spirit, it is only fair that we conclude by saying that the ancient peoples were certainly right to venerate the goddess of the waters and to build temples in correspondence of springs.




Terme Bagni di Lucca - Bagni di Lucca - www.termebagnidilucca.it

Terme di Montecatini Immobiliare SPA - Montecatini Terme - Pistoia - www.termemontecatini.it

Grotta Giusti - Monsummano Terme, Pistoia - www.grottagiustispa.com

Terme di San Giovanni - Rapolano Terme, Siena - www.termesangiovanni.it

Fonteverde Natural Spa Resort - San Casciano dei Bagni, Siena - www.fonteverdespa.com

Terme di Saturnia - Saturnia, Grosseto - www.termedisaturnia.com

Bagni di Pisa - San Giuliano Terme, Pisa - www.bagnidipisa.com

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