Day trip with Daniele to Tuscan hot springs of Cascate del Gorello in Terme di Saturnia in the morning. Followed by visiting towns of Saturnia (Frazione di Manciano), Montemarano, and Tarquina in the afternoon.
Yesterday Daniele and I took a day trip two-hours north to some Tuscan hot springs, the Terme di Saturnia. There are a few spots, both open to the public and private pay-to-enter places to enjoy these Terme. We went to the public Cascate del Gorello (Cascate is Italian for waterfall). These are natural forming pools, similar to Bagni San Filipo, Castiglione d'Orcia also in Tuscany where we stayed in 2011. The alternative is man-built (or more likely Ancient-Roman-built) pools, like the ones in Viterbo. Where as Castiglione d'Orcia was a giant mound of calcium carbonate fit better for sun bathing as the water splashed by the smooth surface, the Cascate del Gorello were many small waterfalls each making a little pool with a whirlpool-like effect.
We headed out early (6 AM) to arrive at the Terme around 8 AM. Daniele had read it gets crowded, especially in the Summer. This is March, but it was also a Saturday. Personally, I think March is the perfect time to go. In the dead of winter I couldn't stand getting out, and in the hot summer, I don't think I would want to go in. There were only a few (~4) people already there, one other couple and some people alone who looked like "regulars".
We struggled for a little leaving our bag. We knew this moment was coming and had packed as light as possible reading that cars get broken into (like everywhere in Italy). Being there almost first we had a very good parking spot and we could choose anywhere to put our stuff, we put them on a mount of dirt I could see from almost anywhere in the waterfalls. An older couple that arrived as we were struggling with this, walked past us and put their stuff on the one hook. Clearly regulars. As more and more people arrived and everyone left their stuff more or less near ours and it felt safer.
The waterfalls couldn't have been formed better. The river flows down in a more forceful waterfall at the top, then into dozens of small and medium sized pools. The ones farther down are calmer and later on there were families with children down there. In the middle the water flowing into each pool from the one above makes it like a jacuzzi, and most people lean up against the back of that wall so the water runs over their shoulders. At the top there are a few spots where you can sit and let the more powerful waterfall pound away and your back. I sat here at the end, it was amazing.
We stayed at the Terme from a bit after 8 AM until a bit after noon. On the road down we had stopped to take a picture of the waterfalls from above at a view point and noticed there was a little picnic / rest area there. So we returned there to have the lunch we packed. You can see it is much more crowded now.
After lunch we went to check out the little town of Saturnia. These were Terme di Saturnia after all. Saturnia is pretty small, in fact it is not a city in its own right, it is sort of a suburb of another city. Italians call this a Frazione. Saturnia is a frazione of Manciano, where we did not visit. Daniele spent a large amount of the time there complaining how the people of Tuscany turn everything into a tourist sight, and how even a little town like this with nothing to see has 15 "brown signs".
View of private terme from center of Saturnia (Frazione di Manciano).
Next we went to the nearby city of Montemarano. Montemarano is really, really pretty. All the buildings here have the stone exposed, with cement holding them together, opposed to the more popular today stucco / cement siding. It was very charming. Thinking more about our water adventures (and the possibility of a car break in) than our afternoon walking around little Tuscan towns I didn't have my good camera, just my waterproof point-and-shoot. Since I use this camera less often, I didn't realize the battery was about to go dead, which it did shortly after we arrived here.
As sort of a random idea we made a quick stop on the way home in the city of Tarquina. This is just on the Lazio side of the boarder near Civitavecchia (where cruse ships come into Rome). Tarquina was the head city of the 12 that encompassed the Etruscan civilization (an important power in Italy overlapping and then consumed by early Ancient Romans). I got to know my Etruscan history staying in Volterra a little while back. The city is larger than the other two we visited today, but still charming. It had spread out beyond the walls of the historical center quite a bit, though we didn't explore that much. What was really amazing is that you could see the Mediterranean from this ancient hill town. Many old cities are on the sea, but this one didn't feel like a beach town, it felt like a hill town. We didn't have time to see the beach there, but I would like to go back. This is only an hour away and there is a UNESCO World Heritage site there we didn't get to see either.We got home around 6 PM. Which gave us time to shower, unpack our things, clean up a bit, and heat up the frozen pizza I had specifically bought for tonight (don't judge, this is a once in a blue moon, also it's artichoke and ricotta in puff pastry, and it's delicious!). We were both exhausted (and delightfully tanned) from our four-hours simmering in the Terme.
The rest of the photos from this day trip: