After a few hectic days, a soak in the healing waters of hot springs sounded like heaven. We made an early start to avoid the crowds at Terme di Saturnia, a group of thermal springs a few kilometres from the town of Saturnia.
According to medieval legend, during one of the many fights between the god Jupiter and his father Saturn, a lightning bolt thrown by Jupiter missed Saturn and hit the ground. The impact of the projectile formed a crater and its heat warms the water that continually fills the spring. The pool from the legend is actually enclosed in the 5-star Terme di Saturnia Spa Resort and from there, the water flows along a travertine channel, called Gorello, for just over a kilometre.
The gentle pace picks up as the water tumbles over rocks at a magnificent thermal waterfall.
Over thousands of years, the cascading water has created terraces and shimmering blue pools.
An old mill house lends its name to Cascate del Mulino (Mill Falls)
which used to consist of two waterfalls. The first is the one beside the mill house and the second one dropped from an elevated terrace (at the far end of this photo).
In October 2014, 140mm of rain and hail fell in two hours, floodwaters brought mud and debris and a landslide damaged the lower terracettes. It took six months to repair the damage and the second waterfall no longer exists. Fortunately, there is still much to enjoy.
The water is a constant 37.5°C, the scientific composition described as, “a sulphurous-carbonic, sulphate-bicarbonate-alkaline mineral water, and includes among its peculiarities the presence of two dissolved gases such as hydrogen sulphide and carbon dioxide”. We soon got used to the odour, it certainly wasn’t overpowering. We found our own private space in one of the tiered pools, it was impossible to not be relaxed.
There are no changing facilities on site but a huge towel preserved a modicum of decorum, although I did notice one curious observer.
The early start certainly paid off, another couple of hours and it would be standing room only.