Bagno Vignoni: Ancient Natural Spa

I was determined to visit the ancient Tuscan village of Bagno Vignoni after reading a tiny mention about it in Arthur Frommer’s Budget Travel magazine  last month. Little did I know that it would be so close to our villa! This ancient gem is home to natural warm mineral baths that Italians have travelled to for hundreds of years—typically en route to and from Rome.

When you turn off the road just before San Quirico d’Orcia, you drive into the small village with the age-old vocation as a spa. If you don’t go off the beaten path, you’ll come into this petite rectangular village with a main square wrapped around a 49 meter long pool with ancient travertine buildings and a palace erected by Bernardo Rossellino for Pope Pius II.

As you sit in the shade by this pool, you’ll notice bubbles emerging from the center that are from the outlying hot springs whose therapeutic qualities have been reknown since antiquity. A 16th century inscription calls these waters, “sacred to the nymphs.”

But if you want to travel to the outlying hot springs, you need to get on foot and walk behind the village and off the beaten path. It is well worth the trek. … And Free. You can pay to have expensive treatments within the walls of hotels in Bagno Vignoni, but why not trek down to a natural aquamarine pool at the foot of a water fall?

I took my boyfriend’s 19-year-old son and 13-year-old daughter, who urged me, after we waded in the gorgeous opalescent waters and rubbed blue mud on our skin, to hike up to the water fall.

Interestingly, after centuries of mineral water flowing over them, the rocks and stone around the pools have turned into a porous, non-slippery surface.

It’s amazing as it allows you to hike barefoot, and even through the water at steep angles, without the slightest fear of sliding.

I began to feel as if I had landed on another planet.

The kids were having a ball, as the sole visitors to hike up to the water fall where the source of the waters were hotter than most showers. The feeling was amazing.

As I hiked down from the water fall, back to the pool below, the breeze from the hills surrounding the village seemed to whisper to me. My spirits lifted, even in the extreme heat.

Certain things will always bring peace and well-being: a bit of exercise, sunshine, friendly faces and a gentle breeze.

Add warm mineral waters and mud—and you’ve got a combination for deep relaxation, known for centuries.

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