I’ve lived with the Saturnia Hot Springs in my backyard for more than half a decade. In that time, I’ve picked up a lot of tips and tricks for when to visit and what to bring.
For those not in the know, there’s a free hot spring just outside of Saturnia where the water flows into naturally carved travertine pools at a constant 37°C . Think of it as the most luxurious bath in the most luxurious setting ever!
The springs are extremely popular with locals, Italian tourists and international visitors, so if you like your privacy or just want to be comfortable, stick to these tips!
1. Avoid peak times
Italian tourists are creatures of habit, so if you want to avoid the crowds, consider getting up early or dropping in before or after any meal. That’s midday until about 2pm and 6:30pm to 8:30pm. Most people will be out eating, so you can have at least one section of the pools to yourself.
2. Head further downstream for privacy
I’ll admit big crowds and screaming kids aren’t my idea of a relaxing time, so if you want something a little more secluded, park your car in the hot springs car park and then back track on foot along the road in the direction of Saturnia.
The river of warm water travels through the field on the side of the road and all the way to the Terme di Saturnia Spa Centre about 500 metres further down. There are plenty of spots along the way where you can have a more private dip if you’re willing to walk through the field to find them.
3. Pack supplies
Hot weather and hot springs seems like a bad idea, but you’d be surprised to see how many people visit in summer. If you’re planning on stopping by, treat it like a trip to the beach. Bring sunscreen and an umbrella if you have one, as well as plenty of water.
The area around the hot springs is dry and dusty with no shade. If you’re planning on spending the day here, you’ll want some shade to lounge in between dips. And maybe some snacks. The bar next door is pricey and doesn’t serve quality fare, so consider packing a picnic.
4. Take care of your sunnies
I ruined a very good pair of sunglasses in the hot springs. Sulfuric hot water does the lenses no good, so try not to get them wet or you’ll end up with blotches that can eat away at the UV layer after a while. I wouldn’t wear my best bathers here either!
5. Watch your knees, elbows, back and other sensitive areas
The rocks in and around the hot springs are very slippery. If you own a pair of those water socks or slippers with the grips, wear them! Otherwise be very careful when you walk through the springs.
Also keep a close eye out for varying depths between the pools. You can get caught out as the water levels change or run into rocks while climbing from pool to pool. The current is also very strong in some sections and you can be pulled down a mini waterfall.
6. Don’t park on the road
The hot springs have a huge dedicated parking space. To get there, just follow the dirt road down to the springs and turn right at the bar.
Ignore all the parked cars that crowd the road to the parking space. They’re illegally parked and risk a hefty fine if the police catch them – and they do drive by here to fine people regularly!
7. Bring a torch for nighttime visits
The hot springs are a very romantic place for an after dinner dip, but if you’re visiting after dark bring a torch or two because there are no lights to guide your way in and out of the slippery pools, as you can see from this picture.
8. Watch for heatstroke
Be careful about spending too much time in the water, especially if you’re pregnant or with young kids. The water is 37°C, so it’s easy to become dehydrated and disorientated, especially during summer. The recommended length of time per dip is 20 minutes. After that you should get out and have a break.
9. Take off your jewellery
There is something in the hot spring water that rusts anything but pure gold, so take off your jewellery and don’t put it on again until you’ve had a good scrub. I ruined a lovely necklace this way.
If you do forget and ruin a beloved piece, get some toothpaste and a toothbrush and you should be able to rub the worst of the rust off.
10. Treat yourself at the Terme di Saturnia Spa Complex
Roughing in at the Saturnia Hot Spring might not be your cup of tea, so if you want to enjoy the same water in a more luxurious setting, head to the Terme di Saturnia Spa Complex down the road.
The water is cleaner and warmer because it comes directly from the source, but all day entry will cost you €22. I suggest saving some euros and visiting in the afternoon when parking is free and you only pay €17 to swim from 3pm to 7:30pm.
The spa centre has jacuzzis, artificial waterfalls and a cold water pool, as well as a great shower and change room, so you get your money’s worth. Just note, the umbrellas, sundecks and lounge chairs cost more, so if you don’t cough up, you have to sit on the grass.