I am a person who LOVES spending time in/on/near any and all forms of water. I’m not just talking about stunning Indonesian beaches and rainforest waterfalls, but also baths (like, in my home), public pools, tiny streams — literally any body of water. So naturally, when I found out we would be in Italy in winter, I threw together a hot spring list and demanded they fit into the road trip route (post on this route coming soon!).
We missed some that were a bit more out of the way, but below is the roundup of the three we stopped at. Not all hot springs are created equal, our favorite one on this list is known as one of the best hot springs in Tuscany–it was also the most secluded–but others left a lot to be desired. Read on to find out what made this one worth the trip, and which are better off skipping.
Bagni di Petriolo, Strada Provinciale di Petriolo, 53015 Monticiano SI, Italy
The closest hot spring to Siena. This was our first stop after a two night stay in the beautiful Tuscan city. The springs themselves were set off the highway down a lovely wooded road. First, there was a paid pool area on the road which looked nice but being 3 weeks deep into our Italy trip, we had zero extra funds to check it out. Our stop was the public free area set just past it.
Excitedly, we hopped out of the car to check it out, but were quickly deflated. It was very small and crowded when we went in the late morning of a week day. I can’t imagine what this place looks like on a beautiful Saturday. Also, it is set right next to ancient ruins. Romantic, right? Potentially in the past, but now it seems to mainly serve as a wall to block people changing and going to the bathroom. All things said, this was not the tranquil setting we had set our hopes on.
The one positive to this site was the lovely adjacent river filled with crystal clear water and lined with tall, dark pines. If you did happen to get this place to yourself, it could be a nice spot to soak and enjoy the view. For us, it did not warrant a real stop off, so we got back in the car and headed to the next stop.
How to get Bagni di Petriolo:
- If using Google Maps, typing in “Terme Petriolo” will get you to the paid pool. The free ones are at the small bridge just past the paid one, you should see cars parked along the side of the road.
- If not using GPS, take SS223 to the exit towards Lesa, turn right on SP4.
Terme di Chianciano, Piazza Martiri Perugini, 3, 53042 Chianciano Terme SI, Italy
This was the last stop we made on our tour, and one we had a real hard time finding. We drove past it 3-5 times easy, whoops! It’s in a building that looks a bit like a YMCA, but it is anything but. We wandered into an empty entrance and out into the courtyard beyond, and followed the few souls we saw into another building towards the back of the grounds. We were constantly unsure if we were in the right place. Every time we walked in somewhere it almost felt like we were trespassing.
After getting in, we were told it was more of a spa. To top it off, it was a whopping 38 Euro/person charge to go in for 2 hours. Honestly, even with a cheaper price tag, I wasn’t that into the fancy vibe. Especially because we found this one after we had already been to our favorite spot, below.
How to get Termi di Chianciano:
- If using Google Maps, typing in “Acquasanta Terme di Chianciano Spa” will get you to the parking lot. You cannot legally park in here, however. Use the metered parking on adjacent streets, and plan for at least two hours.
- The building is a bit hard to find. The sign on the front of the building says “ Parco Aquasanta”, and has pictures of bathers.
- If not using a GPS, head to the downtown of Terme di Chianciano and ask around. There are too many streets to explain the directions in detail here.
Terme Fosso Bianco, Via delle Terme, 53023 Bagni San Filippo SI, Italy
Fosso Bianco was hands down our favorite spot and the only one where we actually braved the cold air to strip down and get into the springs. It is also absolutely FREE. Being as expensive as it is, finding free things to do in Italy was always a rush in and of itself. Set down a dirt path off the side of the road, we paid for parking and wandered into the trees. You can see the springs from the road, they are not too hard to find after you park.
The path that runs along the river takes you from small, cooler pools near the entrance to the namesake of the springs, the Fosso Bianco or “white ditch” or La Balena Bianca “the white whale”. Once you get down you realize the scale of these massive, beautiful waterfalls made up of calcium, magnesium, and sulfur. After centuries of scouring these cliffs with hot water, little pools have been carved into the sides at varying heights. The effect is stunning and makes the surface rather easy to walk on.
We walked a minute further down the path to a set of springs which we had almost completely to ourselves for an hour long soak. The further up you go on the falls, the hotter the water gets. This means the lovely clear water in the stream below is cooler, making it a great spot to visit any time of year. We can see why this one is regarded as one of the best hot springs in Tuscany.
How to get to Terme Fosso Bianco:
- If using Google Maps, typing in “La Balena Bianca” brings you to the spring itself, though you’ll have to park before you can finish the route (see next point).
- Park on Via Fosso Bianco and pay the meter. You should see other cars parked along the side of the road.
- If not using GPS, take SR2 to SP61. Once you get into the little town, there is a sign for the terme pointing you towards the road to park on.
- Depending on how far from the entrance you park, you can take one of the makeshift dirt paths leading down to the springs, or walk down the road to the proper entrance. Remember to keep walking further down the path–5 minutes–to find warmer water and a more tranquil setting.
- We did not bring a towel when we went and were FREEZING getting in and out of the water in the middle of winter. We were very envious of folks we saw with terry cloth robes casually drifting from pool to pool – follow their lead, not ours.
- There are more springs to be found in this thermal area, driving around we continued to see signs for them. Look for thermal baths, “terme”, “bagni di” or a fountain symbol to stumble upon unexpected springs.
- The springs that were set back in the woods had dirt paths and were very muddy from the winter weather. This is probably obvious to most people (why wouldn’t a wooded path be muddy after months of precipitation?!) but for reasons unknown totally missed us. Wear sturdy shoes if possible when walking to and from.
- The water temperature varies greatly from pool to pool. Don’t hesitate to check these out even in the heat of the Italian summer.
- The surface of the springs are very easy to walk on, but still take care! These spots are not super close to medical care if you slip and fall.
- Sulfur = smelly. Be prepared to be a little stinky, and for it to linger on your clothes.
Have you visited any of these hot springs in Tuscany or any others? Let us know in the comments below!