For all its famous beaches, Roman ruins, and Medieval villages, Italy is also quite a mountainous country. The whole northern border of the country is in The Alps, stretching east into The Dolomites, and the Apennine Mountains run the length of the country from the northwest all the way to the toe of the boot. Italy is littered with volcanoes and the remnants of volcanoes, and southern Tuscany‘s Monte Amiata falls into the latter category.
Mount Amiata, or Monte Amiata as it’s called in Italian, is what’s known as a “lava dome.” Lava domes form when lava is released from a volcano so slowly that rather than cascading down the sides of a mountain it ends up forming its own small mountain. Over time, some of these small lava dome mountains become larger mountains of their own. Mount Amiata is actually one of many lava domes in the Amiata region, and it is the largest one at roughly 5700 feet.
Some of the tourist attractions in the area around Monte Amiata include the natural hot springs in Bagno Vignoni and Bagno San Filippo, the 8th century Benedictine Abbey of San Salvatore, and several charming small towns surrounding the mountain. You’ll need a rental car to really get the most out of exploring this area, and although you could do the drive around Mount Amiata in a day you might want to set aside a couple of days so you can really take your time in each village. This is especially true if you’re planning to visit the hot springs, since you’ll want to relax at those stops for sure. Also note that on Christmas Eve, the town of Abbadia San Salvatore (where the abbey is) has a parade and huge bonfire in the town center.