Cascate del Mulino

Saturnia is less of a town and more of a living legend. Ask the locals and they'll convince you that this Maremman town is actually the mythical Saturnia tellus - refuge of Saturn after he lost the throne of the gods.

Legends aside, Saturnia may not be Saturn's hideaway, but it's almost as old.

Built by the Etruscans, it was jealously coveted by the Romans, who wanted the hot springs that surrounded the town for themselves. They eventually took it by force and built baths filled with the hot sulphuric water, transforming Saturnia into a playground for the empire's rich and famous

Today the hot springs that caught the Romans' eyes also draw thousands of tourists to the town each year.

More than just an outdoor bath, where temperatures reach a toasty 37.5°C all-year-round, the springs also boast curative properties said to heal various minor ailments thanks to the presence of sulphur in the water.

But if you, like those in the Middle Ages, believe the steamy warm waters are really the waters of Hell or simply have no interest in taking a dip outside, you can still find plenty to do in Saturnia.

In the town itself, the marks of the Etruscans, Romans, Aldobrandeschi, Orsini and Medici are still visible, not in museums, but right in front of your eyes.

In the town square lies the remains of a Roman road, while a magnificent medieval castle looms over the streets, casting a shadow on the nearby stone-carved houses.

Everywhere you look there's history. A deep and intriguing history that can captivate even those who thought they'd never take an interest in Italy's expansive history.

To be honest, there isn't a town outside of Rome and maybe Pompei that has a better preserved and richer Roman heritage than Saturnia.

Photo: Jarle Refsnes via Flickr

Sights

Chiesa S. M. Maddalena

Built on the ruins of an ancient Romanesque church, this simple facade hides an interior adorned with some of the region’s most breathtaking artwork.

Antiche Colonne

Capturing the essence of the Roman Empire, these columns are in the main piazza, and stand as tall and as proud as they did in centuries past.

Porta Romana

This archway was Roman built, but restored by the Republic of Siena along with the now non-existent ‘mura di cinta’ or city walls.

Museo Archeologico

An interesting collection of Etruscan and Roman ruins complied from sites in and around the nearby valleys and the Poggio Buco necropolis.

The hot springs

Le Cascate del Mulino

There is rarely a moment day or night when these hot springs aren’t packed with people enjoying the incredibly warm waters in this natural paradise.

Terme di Saturnia Spa

Saturnia wouldn’t be famous if it wasn’t for this spa complex. It’s a pricey way to enjoy what’s available for free, but it doesn’t get more luxurious.

Events

Saturnia Festival

A chance for locals and tourists to enjoy stirring free classical music concerts each evening for a week.

Vivamus Festival

This event is very close to my heart. As its name suggests, it’s about living the Maremman lifestyle in all its splendour and vigour, beauty and vitality.

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