Driving tour of Tuscany

Trip Start Jul 10, 2007
Trip End Jul 28, 2007

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Sunday, July 22, 2007

We started out on our way to a natural hot spring in Saturnia, which was about a two hour drive away.  We did it in a meandering not-so-fast way, however, and began with a stop in San Quirico d'Orcia.  This is another small medieval town (they all look pretty much the same), however, it was early in the day and there weren't as many tourists as we had seen in Pienza the day before.  We wandered the streets and took pictures and visited the church.

We went on and stopped next in Bagni Vignoni.  This was a town with some bath ruins, and a small bathing spot of a cold spring.  I think that the brand new spa built in the town had diverted all of the hotsprings so there was no more bathing without paying.  From Bagni Vignoni, we could see a tower ruins and drove towards it.

The view from the tower (torre) in Rocca d'Orcia was amazing.  From all directions, we could look out over the valley. We could look back at the ancient baths we had just visited in Bagni Vignoni, and we could look out to where the mountains were.  We climbed to the top, took in the vista, and moved on.  By the way, there are no words to adequately describe the beauty of this region.  You have to just get a plane ticket, rent a car, and go see it.

Lunch was in a small park area in Bagni San Filippo.  This area also had a spa for bathing in hot springs, but we were looking for something local to again not have to pay the spa prices.  We found a gorgeous spot where the water coming out of the side of the mountain was HOT HOT.  There were several outcroppings of the water, and in these areas the rocks were turned white with the mineral deposits, which was cool.  We did find pools, but we had forgotten the bathing suits in the car, so all I got to do was soak my feet in the hot water.  It was SO HOT.  It was relaxing and wonderful. 

Continuing on to Saturnia, we stopped at a random hillside town called Sarono.  This was a much older medieval town that looked quite different from the other towns that we had visited to the north.  There was a ruins of a fort here that we climbed around on.  We went down into the town and I did some shopping and we took some pictures.  There were hardly any tourists in this area of Tuscany and there is no real mention of this really cool town in any of the tour books.

We moved on and stopped in another small town called Sovana.  Here, there was a local artisan that made very beautiful reproductions of Etruscan ceramics.  We bought a small souvenir, had some gelato, and moved on.  Just outside of Sovana is one of the best examples of ancient Etruscan tombs in Italy.  There were two sets of ruins, and we toured both sets.  Who knew that would be so interesting?  The Etruscans were in Tuscany in like 3-1 B.C.  Even by European standards, these are OLD.

It was about 7 pm by this time, and we were finally getting to Saturnia.  This hot spring is also the locals scam so they don't have to pay the expensive spa prices to bathe in the beneficial mineral waters.  There are no signs so you just need to know where it is.  This is where our trip planning research payed off. 

This particular spring cascades down this terraced rock.  The terraced areas have small tub-like formations, so you sit in these private little tub areas and the water cascades over or past you.  It's not hot, but it's quite warm, about 100 F.  It was a really crazy place, with people all over, and even camping in some areas.  It was very popular with people of all ages.  We were the only ones even close to speaking English there, by the way (but we did hear a lot of German...Did I mention Italy is full of Germans??).  It was really cool.

It was after 8 pm by the time we were out, changed, and dry from that, and we were getting hungry.  We decided to try Saturnia in town for dinner.  Well, for all of the advertising of all the places to eat in Saturnia, you really had to make a reservation because we couldn't get a table anywhere.  We got back into our car, drove just out of town, to a bar/pizzeria and had yummy pizza for dinner.  Of course, while we were eating the sun went down and that meant our entire drive home, over the curvy dark Italian roads, would be in the dark.  It turns out that the roads were marked well and we got home without incident, getting lost, or careening off of the side of a cliff.
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kakenty on

Missed you
We really missed hearing from you while you were in Tuscany. You are so good at describing the things you are seeing and doing, you should get a job writing for a travel magazine. Ha! Ha!

slarson on

Have I taught you NOTHING??? You don't need a swinsuit for hot springs! That's the whole point of it!
These pictures are my favorite, I love the ruins.

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