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Bagno Vignoni

Bagno Vignoni, a trip to a Spa in Tuscany

Spa in Tuscany, Italy: everything about Bagno Vignoni

Bagno Vignoni and the views of the Val d’Orcia, including the Rocca di Tentennano in Castiglione d’Orcia. A tour of these places allows every tourist to see some of the most beautiful places in Tuscany. We are in the province of Siena. The most fascinating stop is certainly a small village: Bagno Vignoni.

Because nowhere else in the world – certainly not in Italy – is it possible to find a hot water thermal pool in the main square of the village. The Renaissance-era square is 49 metres long and 29 metres wide and was built exactly above the original hot spring, the same spring that the Romans also used.

Both the Etruscans and the Romans loved thermal water springs and not, of course, only for hygienic reasons but also, and above all, for their beneficial properties. Since the 9th century, both these baths and those of Bagni San Filippo, situated a little further south at the foot of Monte Amiata, have been mentioned in the old travel diaries of abbots and others making their pilgrimage to Rome (and many even to Jerusalem).

Bagno Vignoni is, in fact, just a few minutes away from the Via Francigena, one of the most important roads travelled by pilgrims from England on their way to Rome and the Holy Land. Some of the most famous people in history have frequented the Bagno Vignoni thermal baths on a regular and constant basis, such as Pope Pius II, Catherine of Siena and Lorenzo the Magnificent, to name but a few.

The Bagno Vignoni thermal baths have always allowed the town to have water even during the hottest summer months, which is why several mills have been built along the Orcia river over the centuries; these ancient mills, together with a complex system of water channels and gorges, now make up what is known as the Parco dei Mulini, created in the 1990s.

You cannot bathe directly in the pool located in the central square, but you can follow the thermal springs as they flow towards the area of the ancient mills to the above mentioned “Parco dei Mulini”, where you can enjoy the benefits of these waters free of charge. But there is more to Bagno Vignoni than just the swimming pool to visit.

Rossellino Palace

One of the most beautiful monuments in Bagno Vignoni is the work of Bernardo Gambarelli, known as Rossellino, and dates back to the 15th century. The first and second floors are in travertine, the first rusticated. The top floor is a recent addition after the war.

Church of St John the Baptist

The church overlooking the thermal pool that characterises the centre of the village is the ancient parish church, with a single nave and a very simple façade. Inside is an 18th-century painting by the Sienese school depicting “Saint Catherine of Siena” with Bagno Vignoni in the background. On the portico overlooking the pool is the small chapel dedicated to Saint Catherine of Siena, built-in 1660. Every year on 24 June the feast of St John is celebrated with a procession around the pool and the blessing of the fields.

Park of the Mills

The Parco dei Mulini (Mills Park) is an archaeological trail that the municipality of San Quirico d’Orcia has been visiting since 1999. The path winds around the edge of the village of Bagno Vignoni and begins with the tanks and cisterns that collect the water draining from the main thermal pool in the town. From the basins at the top of the hill, the water begins its descent towards the bottom of the valley, feeding the ancient mills, which are located at decreasing heights.

These are four mills excavated in the rock, a very complex hydraulic engineering work that allowed them to function even in summer because they were fed by a thermal spring that gushed with a constant flow, but forced to work in hot and humid environments since the temperature of the water at the spring is about 50 °C.

The first two mills, known as the Mulino di Sopra and Mulino Buca, are entirely underground; the other two, the Mulino di Mezzo and the Mulino da Piedi, are semi-underground. The entrances and interiors of the mills, dug into the rock, have been restored and made safe, and where possible the existing equipment has also been recovered.

Author: Eduardo Lubrano
Photo: Bagno Vignoni/WikiPedro/YouTube

A trip to a Spa in Tuscany: Bagno Vignoni

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