Italy's Best Natural Hot Springs

| Ulf Meyer / Unsplash
Gemma Roxanne Lake

Thanks to its complex geological composition, Italy is punctuated by natural hot springs. Rich in sulphur and an array of other minerals, these waters are considered to have endless health and beauty benefits like curing skin diseases and relieving high blood pressure. We chart some of the best across the country, from Tuscany to Sicily.

1. Saturnia

Natural Feature, Health Spa

Aerial view of the spectacular Saturnia hot springs in Italy
Mark Pisek / Unsplash
Bubbling over ivory-white boulders, the steaming hot sulphurous waters of Saturnia, which run from Mount Amiata and the surrounding hills of Maremma, collect in the deep calcareous rock pools below. Popularised by the Romans, legend has it that the Roman god of Saturn first created the springs to pacify mankind – but after a malaria outbreak, they were completely forgotten about until the 19th century. Today, thousands flock here in search of the teal-coloured curative waters and the sulphur-rich mud, renowned for lowering high blood pressure and treating various skin diseases. These thermal baths reach around 37C (100F), and are suited to every season. Although nearby Terme di Saturnia offers treatments, these wild springs are free.

2. Vulcano

Spa

The thermal springs and mud baths of Laghetto di Fanghi, on the Aeolian Island of Vulcano, are within easy walking distance of the island’s harbour. Offering an extraordinarily alternative spa-day experience, this natural mud is considered an effective treatment for muscle, joint and bone disorders, as well as a number of skin diseases. And, despite the acrid stench, many continue to come here to wallow in the widely celebrated 28C (82F) sulphurous sludge.

3. Petriolo

Health Spa

The hot springs of Petriolo, along the River Farma, sit on the border between the municipalities of Monticiano and Civitella Paganico, and are within close proximity to the capital of Tuscany, Florence. The hot sulphurous waters (at around 43C/109F) keep the natural concavities topped up and allow for free, round-the-clock bathing. You’ll find these springs right in the rural heart of Tuscany, bordered by venerable oak and chestnut trees, and positioned below ruined walls – the only remnants of the fortified ancient thermal baths that were once frequented by the Etruscans and the Romans.

4. Fosso Bianco

Health Spa

The Fosso Bianco natural pools, in the village of Bagni San Filippo, sit at the confluence of several hot springs. Slipping down the calcium-carbonate encrusted rock-face and into the natural cerulean basins below, the Fosso Bianco waterfalls provide the perfect all-year-round bathing experience. Following the tree-lined leafy pathway into the heart of the woods, you will eventually come to the “white whale” (the largest calcium formation of Bagni San Filippo), where the white-blue water is in marked contrast with the green and copper shades of the woodlands. Here, the rich and remedial mud deposits, sitting at the bottom of the pools, provide one of the best (free) spa treatments that mother nature can offer.

5. Bagni di Bormio

Natural Feature

If you head north to the Lombardy region of Italy, you’ll find the medieval hamlet of Bormio. Sitting on the alpine slope of Mount Reit, the town is particularly noted for its winter sports and hot springs with temperatures around 40C (104F). There are three main points to the resort: Bagni Vecchi (the old baths), Bagni Nuovi (the new baths) and Terme di Bormio (the spa). The charming 1,000-year-old Bagni Vecchi features a pool in an ancient Roman tunnel and provides a spectacular panorama of the snow-capped western Dolomites.

6. Piscine Carletti, Viterbo

Spa

Head to Piscine Carletti for a more authentic Italian bathing experience. Set in the countryside an hour outside of Rome, this network of thermal pools is loved by locals, who voluntarily maintain them. Piscine Carletti has some of the purest and hottest thermal waters in the region, reaching 58C (136F). There’s no fee to visit, and you can spend hours wallowing in the pools – the hottest one trickles straight down from the source while the outer pools are cooler.

Amy Blyth contributed additional reporting.

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