My first post of the new year is a celebratory one.
It seems you and I are onto a bit of a travel secret. It pleases me and pains me to say the Maremma is growing in popularity.
Over the Christmas break, our gorgeous corner of undiscovered Tuscany has become a little more discovered. It was mentioned by the New York Times, the Guardian and Lonely Planet as a destination to see before you die. Slightly morbid, I know.
On the one hand, I’m pleased that my lovely home is finally getting the kudos it deserves. But at the same time, I’m jealously eyeing anything that threatens to take away its authenticity.
A lot of love for the Maremma was given to Saturnia and her magnificent hot springs. The Lonely Planet listed it as one of the top 20 hot springs in Europe. Not bad for a tiny, obscure town in Southern Tuscany.
Saturnia is practically in my backyard, so it’s only fitting that I share my secret for experiencing Saturnia’s hot spring like a local.
I’ve been to Saturnia’s hot springs what feels like 1,000 times in the past decade.
I have experienced the 37°C (98°F) water in all weather conditions. In the rain, the boiling hot sun and even in the snow.
I’ve seen it in the early morning and at night when the lack of lighting makes the steaming surroundings all the more romantic.
I know all the ins and outs of this gorgeous slice of the Maremma.
It is simply the most luxurious bath you’ll ever take in the most luxurious settings you have ever seen. And that’s before you consider the health benefits the minerals in the water are said to have.
Before I get to my secret, I wanted to mention the best time to visit Saturnia’s hot springs isn’t in summer at all. Hot water and hot weather don’t mix.
It can actually be quite a suffocating experience. It’s not like going to the beach. It’s not refreshing and there are always huge crowds in summer so not only are you sweltering, but you’re surrounded by other sweaty bodies.
If you can be choosy, visit in March-May when the weather is pleasant. Otherwise if you’re here in the summer season avoid the crowds and the heat and visit after dinner.
And now, drum roll… my secret to experience Saturnia’s hot springs is…
There are locals out there who would kick me for sharing this. When I go to the hot springs, I don’t go to the Cascate del Mulino and if I don’t have the whole day free, I don’t go to the Terme di Saturnia spa complex.
I go to a small slice of river hidden at the back of a field called Il Gorello. I admit, it doesn’t have the wow factor of the waterfalls of Saturnia or the luxury of the spa complex, but this mini paradise is in many ways better.
The water is warmer and cleaner because it’s closer to the source, which is actually inside the spa complex. It’s also so much more private, secluded and romantic than the tourist soaked waterfalls.
Most days there’s no one there and you can relax in the shallow waters surrounded by a veritable rainforest. The rocks have been smoothed by the flowing water and it’s all very zen – a great choice for couples and families.
And the best part? It’s utterly free!
To get here, park close to the Terme di Saturnia spa complex on the Strada Saturnia-Pitigliano.
You can reach the river by walking through the grain field that sits to the right of the road, just before the spa car park. You can’t miss it. Just follow the sound of running water.
If you’ve already seen the beauty of the Cascate del Mulino and are looking for some place more idyllic to enjoy the springs then Il Gorello is really the place to be.