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PETRIOLO NATURAL HOT SPRINGS, YOUR FIVE STAR TUSCAN NATURE SPA

A woman bathing in the wild hot springs in Tuscany

My Tuscan native is right. I spend far too much time in front of the computer because of my Tuscany blogs. But what he forgets is, that I spend many a nondescript winter morning soaking in the rock pools of Tuscany's natural hot springs - because of this blog.

Hot springs, Roman baths and exclusive spas can be found all over the world. It's the natural part that has gone amiss in most places over the centuries.

This is where Southern Tuscany comes in with its
wild hot water pools in Bagno Vignoni, San FilippoSaturnia and Petriolo. All of these locations are known for their exclusive Tuscan hotel spas and the public thermal baths. But whatever the historical reasons, they also managed to preserve their simple rock pools in the midst of pristine nature; and even more surprising - free access to all of them. 

Petriolo is one of your best options if you want to explore Tuscany's natural hot springs, soak in sulfurous waters or -  for the more courageous - even drink some of it, without having to spend a penny. But then, even if the times you traveled on a shoe-string budget are long gone, don't give this one a miss. Nothing against five star Tuscan spas, but for the true nature lover nothing compares to a soothing bath right here:


Hot tub for one - with view onto the Farma river
Hot natural tub for one!

Sometimes I wonder whether the quantity of wild thermal pools in Tuscany is connected to Italy's inefficiency or laissez-faire attitude. Let's face it, if Petriolo was in Switzerland, a hot massage shower made up of an old water pipe and a redundant plastic chair (as functional as it may be), just wouldn't be an option. And whatever would be made of a place like this - it for sure wouldn't be for free. 

WHEN TO GO? The Petriolo wild thermal baths are open, or rather accessible 24/7 all year round, but are best visited during the week. If it has to be the weekend go for a mystic experience in the early morning or try bathing at lunch hour, when the pools tend to be a little less crowded. Personally I prefer hot water from spring to autumn, but the Italians love it even during the summer heat. This said the Farma river right next to the rock pools makes sure you'll be able to cool off, even during a hot August day. 

Natural hot shower in Petriolo



Rock climbing the way to the next wild thermal pool isn't quite your idea of a relaxing afternoon? Come anyway and have a dip at the Terme di Petriolo, the recently opened public spa of the province of Siena. The water is the same, and the view too, but you can get a herbal tea or even book yourself in for a massage (at a much lower price than at most Tuscan spas).

Once done with all the detox, you're probably ready for a hearty sandwich and a good old glass of wine. Drive 5 minutes up the hill to close by Pari or continue for a couple of minutes until you reach Casal di Pari. The two tiny Tuscan villages don't just share a name, but also the stunning view over the surrounding hills towards Montalcino, Mount Amiata and the Maremma. 

Casal di Pari's Hosteria da Rosanna (closed on Fridays) makes the biggest Tuscan sandwiches I've ever seen (for the smallest price). And you may even overhear the owner's elderly mom sing La Bohème; after all a bit of Puccini never harms to finish off a perfect day in Tuscany. 


Flip flops Petriolo natural hot springs
Shoes off, everybody!


WHERE TO GO FROM HERE? No worries, being in Tuscany, you're never far from a stunning church or a museum with a few noteworthy frescoes. From Petriolo just drive on to Monticiano to visit San Galgano abbey, the roofless church featuring in Tarkovsky's master piece Nostalghia. 

WHERE TO STAY NEARBY? If you want to explore the area or just keep bathing, stay the week at one of the lovely apartments at Villa Podernovo near Monticiano or book a whole church further down the valley at Monte Antico Art and Garden. And last but not least, don't get confused when driving passed the Petriolo spa resort up on the main road. This Tuscan luxury hotel is not the wild thing you're looking for. And if money is no issue, I can think of other five star hotels to stay at, so as to avoid listening to all the traffic on the busy road that connects Siena with Grosseto and the Tuscan coast.   

FOR A GENERAL OVERVIEW OF THE AREA'S BEST NATURAL SPRINGS AND THERMAL BATS CHECK MY MAP OF TUSCANY'S BEST NATURAL SPRINGS AND HISTORIC SPA TOWNS. 


Brazilian musician Beijaflor Banto playing the colibri during a winter morning at the springs. 

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