FOLLOW WILLY COSMO AS HE EXPLORES THE HEALING WATERS OF THE WORLD
JOE: This place was really special. We nearly didn't find it but thankfully, we finally did! My phone which was our primary navigation tool for the trip was running out of batteries and Rachel's phone had disappeared minutes after we landed in Italy (story for another time?) so we were trying to be old fashioned about getting there using some directions we wrote down and some local help. That made it extra challenging as well because we didn't know where we were going to be sleeping that night and we don't speak or understand Italian very well at all. All these factors put together made for a little challenging - and a fair bit stress-inducing - trip to these magnificent waters. It was all worth it though. We had travelled to the Tarot Garden (Il Giardino dei Tarocchi) earlier that day (a trip you absolutely must make if you are anywhere even close to that place!) and we were intending to head back up to the lovely Agritourismo that we were staying at in Todi. As you may have gathered from previous posts, our ambitions sometimes get the better of us. By the time we got to Saturnia and knowing my phone was just about out of juice - and with maybe an hour of sunlight left - we made the snap decision to find a place to stay as close to springs as possible. Luckily we found a room available at the Grand Budapest Hotel which was a short drive from the Thermal Springs. I say the Grand Budapest Hotel because it felt like that to Rachel and I after a long day of travel but the place is actually called the Saturnia Tuscany Hotel. The place seemed out of a movie and that was appropriate because the day had been something out of a movie for the two of us.
I feel compelled to go briefly back to the Tarot Garden experience for just a minute here. It needs to happen. This place was on a grand scale of madness and magic that sets it apart from basically anywhere else I've ever been to. Dreamed up by the esoteric visionary artist Niki de Saint Phalle, incredibly, she actually lived inside "The Empress" for several months during the construction of the gardens which is a huge sphinx like sculpture on the outside and the interior is completely covered in mirrors (there's a picture of Rach inside there below). It is based on the 22 major arcana cards of the Tarot and comprises of 22 huge sculptures/structures that you can explore now that the place is open to the public (it has been since 1998). It's in Tuscany and if you are ever visiting Rome it isn't more than an hours drive or so from there. It's totally worth a couple hour visit.
Well, getting back to our soak at Saturnia. We had been staying at an Agritourismo that was an hour and a half drive from Saturnia so we thought we could make it back there after visiting the Tarot Garden and Saturnia but the circumstances of our day just didn't quite come together to help make that happen. My phone was almost out of batteries and we didn't have a working car charger and without a map to get us back (and the fact that it would be dark before we got back), we had to make the decision to stay at the Grand Budapest Hotel and go soak at Saturnia in the morning. And so that is exactly what we did. We got to the hotel and thankfully they had a room available, we went down to the restaurant and ate outside and watched the sunset, and then headed up to our room and read for a bit and went to sleep reasonably early so that we could get out first thing to go get our soak on. With a fully recharged phone/navigational tool, we headed out and found our way to the parking area - which is not well marked - and hiked down to these majestic waters on the edge of the thermal creek. The area (and a lot of Italy actually) has tons of thermal waters and had we more time (and if Rach was feeling better) we would have visited even more of them. It turns out that traveling in your first month of pregnancy in pretty much steady 100 degree heat can be a pretty rough experience. Rachel was a trooper I must admit and was a good sport in still adventuring with me a great deal throughout our trip. When she wasn't up for it, I made sure she had everything she needed and I would go off exploring by myself which was really awesome.
What a neat natural wonder. The water was pleasantly warm and had a mild sulphuric scent to it. It felt so good to soak there. It has been a time honored traditional for hundreds and even thousands of years for people to come to this place and receive the healing goodness these waters provide. It seems to be something of a tourist destination but I gathered it is mostly the local folk who come routinely to soak in these waters. There is a fancy resort just up the road with tennis courts, a golf course, and spa and all that business but this place is free and open to the public to come and enjoy. I could see it getting pretty crowded during the height of the day here and would recommend going as we did shortly after sunrise.
Terme di Saturnia or Saturnia Thermal Springs if you will, is a place we definitely recommend you check out. And on that note - while it might not be something everyone is up for - I also recommend renting a car for at least a couple days if you are traveling through Italy. There is so much to see and while I have travelled by car and taken many "great american road trips" through nearly every state on the continent, Italy and Tuscany and the surrounding areas of it are breathtaking. After our soak here we road through more of Tuscany and it was so beautiful. We spent one more night in the area (this time we stayed in Volterra with some family friends), we made our way to ol' Napoli (Naples) to leave our car for a few days and take a ferry boat to the island of Ischia (near the island of Capri) where we went to two more thermal hot springs adventures. Willy Cosmo - still in utero - sure got to experience a lot of amazing waters before he came out to join us in the world!
Terme di Saturnia, 58014 Saturnia, Manciano GR, Italy
Negombo Thermal Gardens
Aphrodite Thermal Gardens
Saturnia Thermal Springs
Bonneville Hot Springs
Reykjadalur Hot Springs ~ Iceland
Blue Lagoon ~ Iceland
Breitenbush Hot Springs
Water of the Gods ~ Norris Hot Springs
Symes Hot Springs Hotel & Mineral Baths
Mundo Hot Springs
Crystal Hot Springs