By the time it gets to Mid October, the mist lingers in the valleys most mornings, there is a gentle bite in the air and we know it’s time to begin looking after ourselves over the winter months. It is a glorious time of the year in Italy: the colours are at their finest, the autumnal food gives earthy flavours our palates had almost forgotten and it is cool enough to take longer walks and enjoy this incredible land.
During these weeks, we love finding a beautiful sunny day and heading off to le terme (thermal waters) in Southern Tuscany. It’s the most brilliant, unpretentious spa day you can imagine and you are surrounded by nature, which makes the experience even more memorable.
Dating back at least to Estruscan times, the waters in these natural baths range from about 36-40°C and typically you move from one pool to the next to benefit from warmer and cooler water. The baths became more popular during the medieval period thanks to the proximity of the Via Francigena, the ancient route connecting Canterbury to Rome. The waters were used for hygiene and also to cure illnesses and so these tiny villages were put on the map by dignitaries such as Pope Pio II and Lorenzo il Magnifico.
It would make a good weekend break or a fantastic add on to a cultural trip to Florence, Pienza, Siena, Cortona or Montepulciano. There are several options of where to go to enjoy the natural hot springs ranging from Saturnia to Bagno S. Filippo to Rapolano Terme to Bagno Vignoni. You can find hotels to cater to most budgets and also book treatments if you wish to fully partake in the ritual of self-healing.
The historic spa of Bagno Vignoni happens to be our favourite and we can happily recommend the following:
Free bathing (which works well if you are with children or on a warm day because the pools are a bit cooler)
Hotel La Posta (which offers good treatments and a series of 3 outdoor pools) www.hotelpostamarcucci.it
Hotel Le Terme (offering 2 indoor pools, good treatments, an adult only environment and a good lunch) www.albergoleterme.it
Adler Hotel (the cream of the crop and a fabulous romantic retreat) www.adler-thermae.com
The hotels listed here offer weekend/3 day packages that include all of the necessary treats you might expect. If you just want to spend an hour or two in the hot baths and also explore the rest of the area, there is a brilliant high end B&B in the middle of Bagno Vignoni called Locanda del Loggiato (www.loggiato.it), which also has a fabulous restaurant next door, Osteria del Leone (www.osteriadelleone.it).