Petrified waterfalls, swimming pools and spas… Tuscany is riddled with natural hot springs whose healing properties have been known since Antiquity. We have selected four destinations worthy of a detour in the province of Sienna.
Tuscany is not only famous for its rich cultural heritage, historic villages, breathtakingly beautiful landscapes and outstanding soil, but also for its spa resorts. Tucked away in the heart of this prestigious Italian region, Siena is home to countless natural sites where volcanic hot springs burst forth naturally.
A natural wonder
The “Baleina bianca” (white whale), on the edge of the village of Bagni San Filippo in the Orcia Valley, is without doubt one of the finest treasures of Tuscany. This immaculate white petrified waterfall, the shape of which is evocative of a whale, rises to a height of over 20m/65ft in a wooded copse. The hot sulphurous water that runs down its slopes forms small natural terraced hollows where you can comfortably take a seat and enjoy the striking, almost surreal landscape. Make sure you wear anti-slip plastic footwear to avoid slipping or falling.
La Baleina bianca - Strada Provinciale 61, 4 - 53023 Bagni San Filippo
Permanent free access to the natural site. Follow the forest path that leaves from “La Cascata” bar. Parking (metered) along the road. Five-minute walk to the site.
©H. Laub/imageBROKER/age fotostock
With the family
Sarteano, one of the prettiest towns of Val di Chiana, is home to the “Swimming pool park” that is part of the campsite of the same name (Parco delle piscine). Its large swimming pool, constantly fed by hot water from a waterfall, is open to the public. The water arrives at 24°C from the local spring of Santa Lucia. Set in a huge wooded park where it is possible to picnic, it is an ideal spot for outings with young children.
Parco Delle Piscine - Via Campo dei Fiori, 30 - 53047 Sarteano.
Opening times : Open daily from 9a-7pm, from 30 April to 30 September.
Ticket : €18 for an adult, €11 for under 10-year olds, free of charge for under 3-year olds.
Back to the Orcia Valley, the rural village of Bagno Vignoni is the site of one of the oldest spa resorts of the region - the Romans came here to take the 52°C waters. The large stone pool in the heart of this medieval burg was built in the Renaissance. While it is no longer possible to take the waters in the pool as much for reasons of hygiene as to protect this gem of Tuscan architectural heritage, modern spa resorts in the vicinity use the same spring water, such as the Adler Thermae, a five-star establishment with a spa open to the public. The rates are definitely on the high end, but the range of services available is correspondingly lavish: open-air swimming pool, underground pool fed by salt water, steam baths, outdoor saunas, all of which in a huge park offering a splendid view of the region.
Hotel Adler Thermae - Strada di Bagno Vignoni, 1 - 53027 San Quirico d'Orcia.
Opening times : Open daily all year round from 8am-8pm.
Ticket : From €147 for a day at the spa per person. Swimming costume compulsory in saunas and swimming pools, nudity compulsory in saunas and steam baths.
Beneath the stars
The Val di Chiana is also home to a spa, Fonteverde, near the village of San Casciano dei Bagni. The spa offer is quite concise, so we recommend simply using the establishment’s outdoor pool, equipped with a powerful 38°C waterfall that constantly feeds the pool and under which it is possible to sit to enjoy an energetic natural massage. On Saturdays the pool is open until midnight and you can take the waters against a backdrop of music and a starry sky.
Fonteverde - Località Terme 1 - 53040 San Casciano dei Bagni.
Opening times : Spa is open from Mon-Thurs from 9am-7pm and until 8pm from Fri-Sun. The spa swimming pool has the same opening hours, except on Tuesdays (9am-5pm in summer and 9am-3pm in winter) and Saturdays when it closes at midnight.
Ticket : €20 per person at night-time, from 7pm to midnight.
©m. bonatti/Marka/age fotostock