Do you feel like you need a break? Do you want to pamper yourself, relax and forget about everyday problems?
How about going to a Spa?
Even better, going to an outdoor Spa!
Even betterER, going to a free spa in the Tuscan countryside?
And…that’s my final offer!
But it gets even better than this! Because Saturnia hot springs will probably be one of the most amazing “spas” you’ll ever visit.
You might have seen beautiful pictures of silk blue water, tumbling over cascades surrounded by rustic Tuscan countryside. Because over the past years, mostly thanks to social media, those particular Tuscan hot springs, called Cascate del Mulino, gained a lot of popularity. And for good reason – their beauty is real! Hot water vapouring into colder air, panoramic views of Tuscany and the whole atmosphere make those enchanting, thermal waterfalls one the most incredible places I’ve ever been to.
Before you visit however, there are a few things you have to know. So let me present to you a little guide on:
How to visit Cascate del Mulino – hot springs in Saturnia!
Let’s start by explaining the common mistake regarding the name of this place that might cause a little confusion. Because Saturnia Terme or Saturnia di Terme is not the same place as Cascate del Mulino – the topic of this blog post.
What is Saturnia, What is Saturnia di Terme, What is cascate del Mulino?
Saturnia is the name of the spa town in southern Tuscany.
Saturnia Terme or Terme di Saturnia technically refers to the region of several springs in the muncipality of Manciano. It’s also the name of a luxury hotel located in Saturnia called: Saturnia di Terme Hotel and Thermal Spa Resort. So if you type in your search engine the phrase: “Saturnia terme”, the website of this hotel is the first thing that will show up. And yes, the hotel has hot springs and thermal pools, but they’re a part of the resort and they’re not free of charge.
The place you’re looking for is called: Cascate del Mulino.
Cascate del Mulino comprise thermal waterfalls and naturally-dug pools located on the grounds of an old mill. The waterfall builds up from a stream of hot water that runs under fields. It finally tumbles down at the side of a mill and rushes into a series of naturally-carved pools. Thanks to it originating from an underground source, the water is rich in minerals and sulphur known to have therapeutic effects. And probably the most important thing of all, the water has a constant temperature of 37,5°C (98°F), no matter the season. Jumping into the hot water (ok, not literally jumping, because it’s impossible, I’ll tell you why later) on a chilly morning – the best feeling ever!
And the second most important thing of all – actually this should be the first one:
Entrance to Cascate del Mulino is free of charge! And since the springs are in the open air, you can visit them 24/7.
When is the best time to visit?
Since the springs are open all day, all night, 365 days a year and the water is hot all the time, you can visit Cascate dl Mulino anytime. I’d personally stay away from winter months, but if you’re not afraid to be a bit cold, go for it.
If you’re in `Tuscany in the middle of the summer, it’s not recommended to visit the pools during the day. The temperatures can be very high and the hot springs will not be refreshing at all. You can enjoy the pools at night then, when the temperatures are cooler and skies are clear.
Spring and Autumn seem to be the perfect seasons.
Regarding the time of day, going there for sunrise is a great option.
I visited Cascate del Mulino in the beginning of September. Since I really wanted to witness the sunrise, we got there shortly before 6am. It was still a bit dark and chilly, but the moment you step into the water, the heat wave (literally) instantly warms you up and makes you forget everything that’s been troubling you. Achieving Nirvana – guaranteed. You can even forget that Billy used to steal your sandwiches in the 6th grade. But really, sitting in Cascate del Mulino thermal pools is a truly purifying/calming experience.
That of course, until the masses show up. Because those famous hot springs in Saturnia can get insanely busy during the day. Another reason to go as soon as you can drag yourself out of bed.
…don’t just come, take all the shots and drone videos you need and go. Stay for longer, enjoy this experience, feast your eyes on the views, let the water heal your body and soul.
How to get there?
`The easiest and my only answer is by car.
Being strategically located between Florence (2,40h drive) and Rome (2,30h drive), the hot springs in Saturnia can be easily added to your Tuscan road trip. Driving in Tuscany can be a little bit tricky though, narrow, curvy and hilly roads are not for everyone. To be fully prepared for your Tuscan adventure, check out my useful guide to driving in Tuscany.
Also because of that, I really recommend booking a night in Saturnia or in a place nearby. There are plenty of lovely Airbnbs, B&Bs or hotels in the area. You wouldn’t like to rush there only to have a quick bath and hit the road again. By booking a stay you can even manage to enjoy the pools twice, for the sunset and sunrise.
Parking at Cascate del Mulino is free! There is a parking lot located just outside of the hot springs. It’s pretty big, so if you come in the morning there will be no problem with finding a free space. Don’t park on the street – you can end up with a big fine.
Type: Parcheggio Le Cascate di Saturnia in your GPS to find free parking.
Since we were road tripping in Tuscany with our lovely rental Fiat 500, I didn’t even consider going to Cascate del Mulino by public transport. And from what I’m reading now, it is possible, but strongly not recommended.
WHat to bring?
Oh yes, there are a few things that you should throw into your bag before visiting the hot springs in Saturnia. From a few essential items, to things that are recommenced to take, check out my list:
- a swimming suit – well, that’s pretty obvious, since Cascate del Mulino are thermal pools, but if you’re tempted enjoying the water naked – DON’T! It’s a public place. You might even want to put your swimming suit on in your room or in the car.
- a towel – another obvious must-take. No comment needed.
- a bag/s – generally people just leave their belongings on the side, so you might need a bag to put everything in one place. If you’re bringing a camera or a drone, you can just pop to the car after you’re done filming and leave more valuable things in the boot. We put everything into one bag, covered it with a towel and just left it on the rocks, like everyone else. Nothing got stolen. However, if it gets busy later during the day, leaving your valuables unguarded might not be the best idea.
- water shoes – this item saved my life. Ok, maybe not life – that’s overdramatic, but it made my stay in the pools way more comfortable. Since the pools are natural, there’s obviously no tiled floor. It’s all rocks and pebbles, so walking there might be even a little painful. This is where water shoes come in handy. And I mean shoes, not flip flops, that can be easily carried away by the current. I bought my water shoes purposely for my visit there and didn’t regret it for one second. I was “hopping” in the pools like a little deer in the fields, while other people, including my boyfriend in flip flops, struggled with every step.
- water and snacks – if you’re planning on staying there for a few hours or even a whole day, you will get thirsty and hungry. There are a few bars in the area, but from what I heard they are a bit pricey. Plus it’s always better to come well prepared.
And 2 additional things that are worth taking if you come at night or/and in the winter:
- a dressing gown – if the outside temperatures are low, you might want to stay warm before and after you immerse yourself in the water. Especially during winter months, a dressing gown can come in handy.
- a torch – even at dawn, before the sun was fully on the horizon, it was a bit dark there. If you decide on the night dip, a torch can save you from painful falls.
What else should you know?
First of all, if you’ve ever been to other hot springs and healing waters you know that they come together with… a rather unpleasant smell, that usually can be described as “rotten eggs“. Since the Saturnia hot springs are rich in minerals and sulphur, this smell is there as well. BUT, don’t let it discourage you! The smell wasn’t that bad at all, and after a few minutes you can get used to. I’d even say, that it’s worse when you’re on the way to the pools. Then you can really smell rotten eggs. But when you reach the Cascate, it kind of mellows and it’s almost imperceptible.
When you do the research before visiting Cascate del Mulino, you can come across one rather disturbing information: that the pools are full of red worms that bite. Well, yes, the worms are there, but they are so small, that you can barely see them. Plus I don’t know how they can bite, since I’d describe their size as smaller than a pinhead. So don’t worry about those little creatures at all and enjoy your time in the pools.
Let’s finish with one piece of information that I haven’t seen anywhere, but I wish someone told me that: your skin will be super dry and will itch after you leave the pools. That’s probably because of sulphur. But yes, as soon as you leave the pools you will fell this feeling of tightness on your skin. From what I know there are no showers nearby. If you booked a room somewhere close, you’re saved – shower and a lot of lotion will help. But if you’re visiting the pools only as a day trip, I’d make sure to bring wet wipes.
So yes, another 2 things that can be added to the “things to take” list: body lotion and wet wipes.
Ok, one more matter, that unfortunately is not clear for everyone:
Don’t forget to collect and take all the rubbish you produced with you!
I saw so much trash left on the rocks and floating in the water! It’s so sad that taking their own trash is too hard for some people. Especially from a place as unique as the hot springs in Saturnia.
Hope you enjoyed my mini guide to visiting Cascate del Mulino – amazing Saturnia hot springs. If you follow my tips, I’m sure your experience will be unforgettable. Go for sunrise, bring water shoes and simply enjoy natural beauty of Tuscan thermal pools.
If you have any questions, post them in the comment or hit me up on Instagram.
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