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Mapping out Tuscany - by Katja Meier. Swiss born, I've been living in Italy since 1999 and write about Tuscany in general and Siena and Montalcino in particular. My photos have been published by the New York Times T Magazine and Tiny Atlas Quarterly and my Siena guide can be found on

My memoir Across the Big Blue Sea: Good Intentions and Hard Lessons in an Italian Refugee Home has been published this year. More info about the book and my job in a shelter in a Tuscan hilltop town (yes, that's Tuscany too) can be found on the book website:

The New Yorker has published my letter on the issues mentioned in the book in its April 24 edition. 

The view from the grove today

For updates on events and things to do in Tuscany keep in touch via Twitter , Instagram and Facebook or join my daily cappuccino on #theviewfromthegrovetodayIf you read Italian, find #myTuscanNative at Le Ficarì. Just don't take anything serious the man writes - Tuscans are known all through Italy for their wry sense of humor and, thank god, plenty of self-irony.  

Wondering why somebody leaves clock-work nation to live in crisis shaken Italy? Read my answers in Life in Italy - gift or nightmare?

If you'd like a consultancy for a tailor-made Tuscan holiday: I can provide advice on best places to stay and recommend walking and sightseeing tours, hands-on cooking classes and winery visits for private groups with my favorite guides in Florence, Siena, Maremma and Val d'Orcia. Email me ( or click through for more info about Map It Out's Tuscan trip planning service. Looking for FREE Tuscan travel advice? Please have a look through the many articles on my blogs. 

Advertising: I don't accept sponsored posts, however there is space for Tuscany related advertising in the right side bar on each of the three Map It Out blogs (Siena, Montalcino and Southern Tuscany). Mail me for more info. 

Trying to contact me for link exchanges or the presentation of some amazing internet marketing tool? Not interested, thanks. 

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A quick round up of my favorite wild hot springs and historic bath towns in Tuscany (more detailed information on spas and rock pool bathing can be found in the single articles the links will lead you to).  WILDERNESS POOLS   PETRIOLO  half an hour to the south of Siena. With its steaming hot water in the upper row of pools a favorite of mine on icy cold winter mornings. The Farma river passes right next to the hot springs. So be courageous and have a splash to try the benefits of kneipping.   SATURNIA  the biggest, most southern and also Italy's best known (and loved!) wilderness pools. The closest option for a soak if you arrive from Rome. To be avoided on weekends.  FOSSO BIANCO  in the Val d'Orcia is a spectacular sight hidden away in the woods below Bagni San Filippo. The shady surroundings make of these natural springs a nice location in the summer.  BAGNO VIGNONI  has a lovely pool below the small waterfall. However, the water arrives from the medieval t


In the wine world the Tuscan coast equals Bolgheri and Sassicaia. No other wine has done as much to turn the lay-back beach side paradise south of Livorno into a famous wine growing region as the prestigious Sassicaia from Tenuta San Guido. But whilst the rise of Supertuscans blended from French grape varieties may resemble a fairy tale story, it shouldn't keep you fro m drinking Sangiovese wines in the smaller and lesser known wineries along the Tuscan shore. 


The Fosso Bianco hot springs and natural pools in Bagni San Filippo If there's one thing I didn't expect when moving to Tuscany, it's the multitude of freely accessible natural hot springs. Day spas and thermal baths can be found all over the world. But when talking hot baths in the wilderness my first guess would always have been a geyser in Iceland.  The generous natural pools near Saturnia  and the hot springs in Petriolo taught me differently. Both places are well known in Italy, a fact that can make them packed on weekends and public holidays. If you like to take your bath a bit more privately, move on towards Val d'Orcia and explore the Fosso Bianco hot springs   near Bagni San Filippo. The waters are as hot as they should be for some comfortable soaking and high in sulfur and calcium (which explains the formation of the white rock and the name of the place).