Day 10-Monday, May 9-The thermal springs of Saturnalia
We took the drive to Saturnia, a small town north and west of Pitigliano to search out the natural hot springs located there. Italy has a lot of hot springs due to the volcanism that is present. Vesuvius, Etna, and Stromboli, are three volcanoes located in Italy. Vesuvius is often described as “the most dangerous volcano in the world,” but it’s been dormant, or relatively so, since 1944.
Although there are a lot of natural hot springs, especially in Tuscany, the ones at Saturnia are probably the grandest. They’ve been known since Roman times, and since that time curative powers have been bestowed on the hot and mineral rich water that flows out of them. Outside of Saturnia there is a wonderful spa and golf course. The spa takes great advantage of the effluence of hot, mineralized water, and will charge an arm and a leg for your visit there. You can sit in the hot springs, get massages, mineral mud baths, have cucumber slices put on your eyes, and be pampered at an incredible cost. You can also get in a round of golf should be so inclined.
However, about a ½ mile from the spa is a place where you can turn off SP10 and park for free. After a walk of about 200 yards you encounter an amazing and beautiful waterfall of the hot and mineralized water flowing out of the earth. Many, many, people, locals and tourists alike, come here with their swimsuits on just to sit down in the pools of warm water, let the water from the various terraces of the waterfalls cascade off their shoulders, heads, backs, etc, and spend a few hours relaxing in the hot springs. The Romans used to do it and modern day people do also. What’s great about it is that it’s FREE! After the water comes over the multi-terraced falls it flows into a river.
It’s VERY rich in dissolved minerals and there is a slight sulfur smell due to its volcanic origins. Berta and first saw it from a distance as we made the drive from Pitigliano to Saturnia. As we drove along there was a fantastic vista from the road (one of thousands in Tuscany) and we pulled off the road to enjoy the view and perhaps take a picture. Once we were out of the car and looking over the countryside, our ears heard a great roar coming from the falls. The water is a light aqua color as it cascades and flows. From our vantage point we could clearly see the falls and the people enjoying it. Less than 10 minutes later we were there. We didn’t bring our swim suits, but we took off our shoes and dangled our legs in the water. I think my ankle may be healed!!!!!!! (not quite) Who knows what a steady diet of therapy in that water might do?
Just down the road about a mile is a large campground. Afficionados of the springs camp there, and you can see a parade of people in their swim suits and robes making the mile walk to the springs. The edges of the terraces in the falls have mineral deposits on them from thousands of years of the springs flowing and depositing minerals.
We also drove into Saturnia, a very pretty little town, but when we got there about 1 pm, most of the restaurants and businesses were closed. Many places in Italy do this, but especially in the smaller towns. They open up in the morning, and then about 12 noon they close until about 3 pm. They then open again and stay open til about 7 pm. We did find a place open and enjoyed a Panini and something to drink before departing.
Tomorrow, our last full day in Pitigliano, we’re going to head west and perhaps go to the Tuscan coast. It’s supposed to be fabulous like the Amalfi Coast and the coast along the Cinque Terre. We will take our suits and perhaps immerse ourselves in the hot springs after that.
It’s been very windy yesterday and today in Pitigliano and much of Tuscany. That’s unusual for the area. The day started a little cool but warmed nicely, Under the Tuscan Sun, so to speak. Hardly a cloud in the sky again; just beautiful. I hope our luck holds for our stays in Rome and the Amalfi Coast.
Tonight we walked to the other end of Pitigliano to enjoy dinner at Locanda dei Pozzo Antico. Very nice little place and wonderfully decorated. The old beams in the ceiling and the tufa rock walls are just what the town is made of. They had many old pictures of life in Pitigliano from 50-100 years ago. Very interesting.
Berta had tagliolini al limone which was pasta that looke like small linguine with lemon cream sauce and pine nuts. I had pici al carciofi e gorgonzola, which is larger diameter spaghetti-like pasta and it had artichoke hearts and gorgonzola cheese. Bravo! It was very good. We washed it down with another bottle of local red wine, and had tiramisu and cappuccinos for dessert.
Anyway, it was another great day in Bella Italia. Great weather, great scenery, great food, great wine, and great experiences. We’re loving it.
Jerry & Berta.