Sartunia Hot Spring: Natural Wonder Hidden Away in Tuscany
Hidden away in the south of Tuscany in the area of Maremma are the Terme di Sartunia, or the Sartunia thermal baths. The area hosts a world renown 5-star exclusive hotel and spa (rooms in the offseason start at €150), but the most incredible part of this area is the natural Cascate del Mulino. These are a beautiful series of waterfalls coming from the ancient dormant volcano Monte Amiata, and contain elements of sulfur, carbon, sulfate, bicarbonate, and alkaline.
With supposed healing properties for people with issues in high blood pressure, digestive, respiratory, cardiovascular, muscular, and joint pains, the cascate is not just a place for the sick. Anyone can bathe in the free thermal baths and enjoy the natural waters that rock out at just under 99.5°F (37.5°C) year round. Legend has it the cascate are located at the exact point where Jupiter's thunderbolt fell against the ground during a battle with Saturn, which is from whom the town of Sartunia gets it's name from. People have been splashing in these baths for thousands of years. There are records of use and inhabitation even before the time of the Etruscans and the Roman conquest in 280 BC.
How to Get There:
Rent a Car:
My recommended method on getting to the thermal springs is to rent a car and drive yourself down to Sartunia. From Florence, it's about a 3-hour drive, and the last hour is all through the winding mountainous hills of Tuscany and it is absolutely gorgeous. Definitely rent a car if you plan on going for a day trip, as it will be quicker (and probably cheaper). There are several car rental agencies in Florence (most on Borgo Ognissanti), and we ended up renting a Smart Car Cabriolet from Knowleggi City Rentals, as they let us pay in cash and with a debit card, and were very helpful after we had some severe issues with Hertz.
I do NOT recommend going to Hertz, with whom we had originally booked with online in advance, and then led to problems. They ended up not accepting my credit card, and wouldn't let me use my debit card, which already being stressful enough after not having this written down for us to know, we were forced to cancel our reservation and lost money even though the issue was their fault. They were immensely unhelpful and rude, and we will not be going back to that company.
Another option is to take the train from Florence to Albinia, then take bus 10/0 to Manciano, which only leaves once a day at 1:40. From there you can take the bus to Sartunia (Line 17/P-R 4 times a day). Using this method of transportation will take you a significantly bit longer, and will almost be just as expensive, as the first train ride is around 3 hours and will cost €20-€30. If you don't have a driver's license or are terrified of driving in Italy, this is the way for you.
What to Know:
For the natural hot springs, there are a few things you should be aware of before you go!
- Bring a robe and flip-flops!! These are probably the most important things you should remember! The robe will keep you warm when you're hopping in and out of the springs. The flip flips will save your feet when you're walking from your car on down to the springs.
- Just come in your swimsuit, or change behind your car. Everyone else does.
- BRING A WATERPROOF BAG! Especially if it's raining, the whole area turns into a mud pit. There are a few cave-like structures to put your things in, but these fill up fast. Since it is a natural hot spring there aren't lockers (or even benches) to put your things on. Less is more!
- Pack a few extra towels to put on the floor of your trunk and on your car seats.
- Pack a dry set of clothes to change into. That way you don't have to ride back in a damp swimsuit that smells like sulfur. You might want to also pack an extra grocery bag to put the wet clothes in!
- Think of the pools like different filtering levels. The ones at the top are rush and flow, and the ones at the bottom are more stagnant. From time to time, the ones at the bottom have a few little red worms that are harmless. They can kind of freak you out if you are unfamiliar with them. They are totally normal and only live in hot springs. If any remain on you when you get out, they will soon die out of water
- Don't wear makeup!!! My makeup usually stays on in water pretty well; I was full raccoon status by the time I got out. My face makeup stayed on- but eye makeup was a definite no-go.
- If you're going during high season parking can be a real problem, so be prepared for the struggle!