It’s no secret that I am obsessed with hot water, particularly thermal water flowing from the core of the earth. And at Saturnia in Tuscany there’s a river of the stuff, and waterfalls! I’m excited!
The area of Tuscany known as Maremma is sometimes referred to as “Secret Tuscany”; this wonderful area is less explored than the regions around Florence and Siena, but it has beaches, great food and something unique: hot waterfalls. Once an important Etruscan centre, modern Saturnia still has lots of Etruscan relics, including the beautiful Porta Romana, or Roman Gates, dating from the 2nd century BC. The Etruscans were so good at construction that this stone gateway has stood over a road for all this time with nothing but clever design to hold the stones in place. The Etruscans used no mortar, they just cut stones to fit into each other. Impressive. The old Roman Road ran through this gate and you can see years of history carved into the paving stones.
But this is just a distraction from the real focus: those thermal waters. The word Spa actually stands for the Latin phrase Salus Per Aqua – healing through water – and those Romans knew all about it, that’s why this town was there. A massive plague of malaria virtually wiped Saturnia out but it has now grown back to its former glory, probably largely on the back of the modern love of healing holidays. These days there is a major spa and wellness complex just outside of town, but those hot thermal waterfalls are still free and you can stand under the 37.5 degree water of Cascate del Mulino and Cascate del Gorello as long as you like.