In the south-east of Tuscany there is a beautiful area, the Val d’Orcia; inside, it hosts the town of Castiglione d’Orcia and the small municipality of Bagni San Filippo, of just 91 inhabitants.
Despite its size, the town is famous throughout Italy for a very specific reason: the presence of sulfur water baths , which, once on the surface, form white and extraordinary limestone deposits, as well as pools and small waterfalls.
The most important deposit is definitely , the White Whale, whose name derives from its shape, being particularly imposing, refers to that of the cetacean.
Deposits and waters are free and accessible to anyone at any time of the year; that’s why they welcome tourists from all over Italy, who take advantage of the natural attraction to stop for a few days and visit the area.
Free Baths of Bagni San Filippo
As just mentioned, tourists love to go to Bagni San Filippo for its terme, both free and paid. As for the first, it is useful to underline that they are always open: the water that flows goes to form a stream, the Fosso Bianco that, between waterfalls and pools of water, gives the present a breathtaking show. To fully enjoy the benefits, it is recommended to relax under the natural hot water jets , and rub the mud on the skin to smooth it and make it soft and velvety.
Spa of Bagni San Filippo
In addition to the free spas, a Bagni San Filippo there is also a real spa, located precisely inside theHotel Terme San Filippo, whose springs have been declared therapeutic directly by the Tuscany Region. As a result, the property offers targeted treatments such as mud therapy, balneotherapy, inhalations and wellness paths, as well as access to a private pool.
Therapeutic properties of water
It is said that Grand Duke Ferdinand II went to the spa of San Filippo to treat the severe migraine that afflicted him; similarly, still today there are many visitors who come to the place both to enjoy a moment of relaxation, both to relieve pain and ailments. The thermal waters, in fact, are classified as sulfur-sulfate-bicarbonate-hyperthermal and release mud on the ground that improve the health and beauty of the skin.
Moreover, since the water gushes out at a temperature of 52 C, they are perfect for all those who suffer from respiratory disorders or dermatological diseases, as well as asthma or seasonal influences.
The White Ditch
The area of the Fosso Bianco is accessible completely free of charge: they are characterized by a series of pools, the first small and shallow, suitable for “diving” during the summer.
As you continue, the spectacle that stands in front of visitors is simply extraordinary: it is the calcareous block White Whale, where the thermal waters, flowing with those of the stream, become a beautiful blue that contrasts with the bright white of the deposit.
At the end of the route, you reach the last pools that anticipate the entrance to the spa for a fee.
The White Whale
The White Whale consists of an immense limestone formation of bright white that, as already mentioned, takes its name from the shape that refers to that of a giant cetacean. Inside, the warmest waters of the entire plant gush out, so much so as to arrive at about 48 and allow visitors to dive at any time of the year.
In winter, among other things, the thermal waters collide with rainwater, mix and become brown-green-red, offering guests a changing and evocative show.
What to see around Bagni San Filippo
The town of Bagni San Filippo is very small so, in addition to the spa and a few restaurants where you can enjoy a typical dish, has not much else to offer. Just, however, move a few kilometers to discover places admirable and full of fascinating natural views, all to immortalize in fabulous photo-memories!
Cave of San Filippo
Not far from the center of the small town is the Cave of San Filippo inside which, according to legend, San Filippo Benizi withdrew towards the second half of the fifteenth century; here, striking a rock with his stick, would have made the healing waters gush out as a sign of gratitude to the locals who, during his stay, had welcomed him a. open arms.
It is from this legend that the chapel was built by the faithful, which houses inside a wooden bust of the saint and other objects left in his honor.
Fortress of Radicofani
The Fortress of Radicofani is located north of the homonymous village and consists of a wall that can be visited inside; just cross a free path to get there and make a visit to the tower that currently houses a small museum.
Climbing about 100 steps, then, you can admire a beautiful view of the village of Radicofani and the countryside.
Among the most important villages of the Val d’Orcia there is no doubt Pienza, made famous by the famous “Romeo and Juliet” by Franco Zeffirelli that, at the time of the shooting, chose Palazzo Piccolomini as the home of the Capulet family.
Pienza, however, is not only known for this but also for the pecorino, which is aged in wooden barrels and, therefore, characterized by an intense flavor, and for the rather funny names assigned to some routes: just think of Via della Fortuna, Way of the Kiss and Way of Love!
San Quirico D’Orcia
On top of a hill stands the medieval village of San Quirico D’Orcia, beautiful and suggestive thanks to the panorama that offers the surrounding countryside and the alleys that characterize its interior. Two attractions not to be missed are the resti della Torre del Cassero and the giardini all’italiana Horti Leonini.
Bagno Vignoni is the smallest village in the whole area, as it has just 30 inhabitants in all. Apart from its size, it is one of the most beautiful villages of the Val d’Orcia, especially for the presence of a large thermal bath, called Piazza delle Sorgenti, whose waters are considered so beneficial that they have been appreciated since ancient Roman times.
Famous historical figures such as Lorenzo de’ Medici and Caterina da Siena bathed here, but currently bathing is not allowed.
Another interesting country is Montalcino, known for its Brunello, one of the most famous and long-lived wines in Italy, which has as places of interest the Duomo and the Fortezza: the first dates back to the year 1000 and overlooks a wonderful landscape, while the second dates back to the late fourteenth century, has an irregular pentagonal shape and is equipped with 4 corner towers.
Between Val di Chiara and Val d’Orcia there is Montepulciano which, just like Montalcino, is renowned for its Nobile di Montepulciano, one of the most appreciated Italian wines in the world.
Those who are visiting can not help but make a jump in Piazza Grande, where the most important events of the city are held.
Castiglione d’Orcia is a very ancient village, whose first settlement dates back to the eighteenth century. Inside there is a huge valley from which you can admire the many villages of the area, as well as the Rocca Aldobrandesca.
Just a walk of just under 5 minutes to go from Castiglione to Rocca d’Orcia, a fraction of about 30 inhabitants that houses the Fortress of Tentennano. It has almost certainly Etruscan origins and in the past held defensive roles.
Finally, it is worth visiting also Monticchiello, a medieval village of which today only the keep remains, since everything else has been destroyed over time.
The locality is famous for the Teatro Povero, where to perform are the same inhabitants who simultaneously play the roles of screenwriters, authors and actors. All this is part of an initiative promoted in the early sixties to combat the economic crisis that involved sharecropping.
Where to stay in Bagni San Filippo
Those who decide to relax at the spa of Bagni San Filippo and want to stay in the area have at their disposal a wide choice between affittacamere and small B&B, as well as theHotel Terme San Filippo which houses the homonymous spa. The advice is to stay within the country to enjoy, during your stay, bars, restaurants and shops.
Alternatively, you can remedy the many agriturismi that characterize the area (and all of Tuscany), especially if you want to spend a few days surrounded by peace and quiet!