Italy is famous for its incredible cuisine, beautiful language, and rich history. However, much fewer people know about the country’s wealth of natural hot springs. This post is a guide to visiting Terme di Saturnia, Tuscany’s most amazing hot springs. Read on to learn how to get there, what to bring, where to stay, and more!
Saturnia comes from Saturn, the name of a famous Roman god. Legend suggest that Saturn became frustrated with mankind for constantly going to war, so he sent a thunderbolt down to earth which then created the warm, sulphuric hot springs that were then meant to help pacify humanity.
The Etruscans and Romans were the first to take advantage of Terme di Saturnia. In fact, they were so enthralled by the natural beauty of the area and healing properties of the water that they built baths around Saturna — many of which can still be seen today!
‘Terme di Saturnia’ is not actually the name of these particular hot springs. Rather, Terme di Saturnia refers to a collection of natural hot springs in Southern Tuscany. They span a great distance from Mount Amiata to Saturnia and Roselle. The hot springs featured in this post are specifically known as Cascate del Mulino or Cascate del Gorello. This caused a lot of confusion when I was first trying to locate them on Google Maps as the term ‘Terme di Saturnia” kept bringing us to a fancy hotel rather than the free natural hot springs. Don’t make the same mistake!
These hot springs are completely FREE and open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. You are welcome to visit Cascate del Mulino at any time and at absolutely no cost. However, there are no lights around the hot springs, so be sure to bring a flashlight with you if you plan to visit after dark. There is a small pizza restaurant at the entrance of the hot spring that is open late most nights as well.
The hot springs constantly remain at 99.5°F and contain sulphur, carbon, and thermal plankton. These properties are known to have beneficial effects on your skin, digestion, and circulation. Also, despite the presence of sulphur which usually smells like rotten eggs, the water at Cascate del Mulino is essentially scentless!
Cascate del Mulino is located in Southern Tuscany in the province of Grosseto. It’s a beautiful area surrounded by vineyards and olive groves. This part of Tuscany is not nearly as touristy as the area nearest Florence so you will have many opportunities to interact with locals and sample regional cuisine. Just don’t forget your Italian phrasebook as few seem to speak English!
Address: Via della Follonata, 58014 Manciano GR, Italy
Finding the hot springs themselves is only tricky if you search for Terme di Saturnia rather than Cascate del Mulino or Cascate del Gorello.
In addition to being the name of the collection of hot springs in the area, Terme di Saturnia is also the name of a luxury hotel and spa located about a 5 minute drive down the road from the natural hot springs.
Follow signs for Terme di Saturnia (left photo below) and then Cascate del Gorello (center photo below). If you find yourself at the hotel, then you have gone too far. The hot springs are on Via della Follonata, just off of the main road SP10.
There is a free parking lot at the end of the road on the right (right photo below). Be sure to park in there rather than on the side of the road as police regularly ticket the area.
How to Get to the Saturnia Hot Springs from Florence
By car: Renting a car is by far the easiest way to get to Saturnia. It is just under a 3 hour drive from either Florence or Pisa. If you don’t want the hassle of renting a car and driving in Florence’s city center, then I recommend that you consider taking a bus to Pisa (50 minutes) and renting a car from the airport there. I rented an automatic car through Car Hire Labs for just €110 for 10 days.
The route from Florence is very simple. Take the autostrade down to Paganico and then continue to drive through the beautiful Tuscan countryside until you reach Saturnia. From Pisa you also follow the autostrade, but exit in Grosetto before continuing through the countryside. Click here for full interactive map.
By bus: Though technically possible to reach by public transport, Saturnia is very difficult to get to from Florence without your own vehicle. You must do the following:
- Take a bus or train from Florence to Grosseto.
- Take 41/P bus from Grosseto to Manciano. It leaves from outside the train station 3 times a day, but not on Sundays. Click here for the timetable and to see the local bus website (though it’s only in Italian!).
- Take 17/P bus from Manciano to Saturnia Terme. It departs 3 times a day, but also not on Sundays. Click here for the timetable.
There is a huge number of hotels, guest houses, and agriturismos available in the area. Choose to stay either in Saturnia or in one of the many other quaint villages nearby.
Terme di Saturnia Spa & Golf Resort – This is the most famous hotel in Saturnia… and for good reason! It features an 8-hole golf course, Roman baths, and natural swimming pools. It’s just 5km from the village of Saturnia and a 10 minute walk from Cascate del Molina. However, luxury such as this does come at a price, so be prepared to spend a bit more than normal.
Il Giardino Estrusco – This is a fantastic option for those hoping to stay in the heart of Saturnia village. It is run by a local family that also manages a nearby restaurant. Breakfast is included.
Country House La Meria – This is where I stayed when I visited and I can’t recommend it enough! Located just 3 miles from Saturnia and a 15 minute walk from the town of Catabbio, this hidden gem is features private villas overlooking miles of vineyards. Also included is an outdoor pool as well as a delicious complementary breakfast. Plus, guests get 10% off at the nearby restaurant Trattoria La Posta, which served up some of the best food I’ve ever had in Italy!
Aia Della Colonna – This is an extremely popular agriturismo located just 7 miles outside of the town center. In addition to an outdoor swimming pool and 14th century architecture, the property also boasts incredible views of the Tuscan countryside.
Bathing suit – Don’t forget bathing suit! I suggest changing into it before you arrive as there isn’t a comfortable place to change nearby.
Towel – It can get pretty chilly when you step out of the warm water, so be sure to bring a towel to dry off and warm up.
Flip flops or water shoes – Any shoes will do, but flip flops are the easiest to slip on and off with wet feet. If you have sensitive feet, then considering wearing water shoes in the hot springs as the floor is covered in small pebbles. I found it quite therapeutic walking around on the stones, but I saw other tip toeing around in agony.
Flashlight – Though it’s open 24/7, there are no lights in the area so be sure to bring a flashlight if you visit after dark.
Waterproof camera – You’ll want to document your time in the hot springs!
What not to bring? Avoid bringing anything super valuable that isn’t waterproof. The area felt very safe, but you will need to leave all your belongings in a pile on the edge while you relax in the water. Don’t spend your time stressing over whether your stuff is still okay, and instead just leave it locked in the car. Also, don’t forget to take off your silver jewelery! The sulphur can tarnish it.
Saturnia is a lovely little Medieval town with a handful of family-run restaurants and impressive architecture. Though the hot springs are by far the biggest draw, there are many other things to do in the area.
- Go on a wine-tasting tour.
- Visit the Museo Archeologico di Saturnia.
- See the 15th century Madonna and Child frescoe attributed to Benvenuto di Giovanni in the Church of Santa Maria Maddalena.
- Visit the nearby towns of Orvieto and Montepulciano.
Fosso Bianco – Located in Bagni di San Filippo, just an hour north of Terme di Satunia is another incredible hot spring. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to visit this place, but it looks absolutely incredible.
Terme di Petriolo – Though not as well known as Fosso Bianco or Terme di Saturnia, these hot springs are another great option if you’re looking for a place to enjoy a thermal bath. It is undeniably less beautiful than the other two, but still worth a visit!