I simply love writing the posts for this site. Yes, they’re a chance to share the best of Italy with you. But I confess, my reason is ‘selfish.’ This way, I get to revisit all the incredible destinations I write about. In my memory, of course. But then, that’s the beauty of travel, isn’t it? You carry those experiences with you… and when had in Tuscany, they remain indelibly imprinted.
Bagno Vignoni is one of the many gorgeous destinations in that part of the world, a charming spa resort village about 4 miles from the Medieval town of San Quirico d'Orcia, itself a Tuscan gem… but more about that later.
Bagno Vignoni is unique right off the bat. What in other villages is a central square, is here a pool, or a bath, as the Romans would say. Roughly Olympic-sized, the Piazza delle Sorgenti (Square of Springs) was built in the 16th century; but the hot springs themselves have been used as far back as Etruscan times.
And no, you can’t swim in the Square.
Today, the buildings surrounding the Square of Springs form the spa complex that is the Alberge le Terme. The family-run 3 star hotel ticks the right boxes, mostly; but the spa baths there are a tad small for my taste, and are all indoors, so Alberge le Terme is not our first choice.
We’ve heard great things about a little B&B called the L'orto Delle Terme, about a block away. And sure, give me free Wi, a flat screen TV, private bathroom, and a spacious balcony with a view, and I’d be there, were it not for our favorite spot, Hotel Osteria Dell'Orcia, which is just across the river. You can’t beat the price, the restaurant or the hospitality. Anything you need, Silvano, the host, will see you right. Oh, and the spa treatment is exceptional.
But, if luxury is your thing, there’s nowhere else but the Rolls Royce of spas, the sparkling and beautifully appointed Adler Thermae Spa & Relax Resort, where guests are pampered 5-star style.
Bagno Vignoni focuses on wellness and is particular to those wanting the spa experience. Being in the middle of the world’s most relaxing countryside is a big plus in that regard.
But Bagno Vignoni is not just about eating al fresco and lounging by the pool. (Unless you want it to be.) It is an active place, where the best of the hot springs are to be had naturally, in the big pool at the bottom of the hill, fed from the top by a watercourse that flows quite magically down into it.
The area is well known for its mountain bike trails and gorgeous walks through the wonderland that is Tuscany. Here is where you find (for real) all those iconic picture postcard images: the vineyards, the olive groves, the avenues of cypress trees, the golden rolling wheat fields, and the warm sunshine-weathered faces of the locals.
If you ask me, there’s nothing to beat a dip in a hot sulpher pool after a couple of hours biking around Tuscany; but that’s not for everyone. If you’d rather just explore a good old-fashioned Tuscan village, San Quirico d'Orcia is the place on hand: replete with bell towered cathedrals, cafes, and the particularly striking garden, the Horti Leonini.
Of the cathedrals, my favorite is the Collegiata of the Saints Quirico and Giulitta, recognizable by the stone lions guarding the entrance-way.
There are enough restaurants and trattorie serving up spectacular fare to fill a book. So if I start, I’ll not finish. But, to give you an idea, one meal I’ll not forget in a hurry is the pigeon we had at Il Loggiato and the other 5 courses were just as good :-)
And, being Tuscany, there is of course the wine. The region is gaining increasing respect with regards to its vineyards. It’s worth noting that ‘Vignoni’ actually means vineyard. But a tour of these illustrious wine lands is a story for another time.
Finding it on your menu, try the Orcia Sangiovese riserva: a beautiful wine in my opinion.
The other great thing about Bagno Vignoni is its centrality. It’s fairly evenly placed between Montalcino and Montepulciano, and is about 30 miles from Sienna… so your ways of getting there are all delightful, whether you choose a car, bus or train.