One of the benefits of living in Northern Italy is having a beautiful country at your fingertips. The Mountains are less than an hour drive, the sea, not much farther, the hills of Tuscany are not too far off, and high speed trains are a life line to other Italian cities.
This weekend we took advantage of an Italian holiday on the 1st of May. Like many people in Milan, we chose to trade in city life for the rolling hills of Tuscany. Our destination was the Saturnia Spa and Golf Resort where we experienced the natural sulfur spring waters of Tuscany.
The spa is about a 6-hour drive south from Milan including some weekend traffic and a couple of stops. There are plenty of options for a quick meal at an Auto Grill along the way. As an American I continue to be surprised when I encounter food options at 'gas stations' in Italy. They really are full service. In true Italian form, just because you are on the go doesn't mean you should miss out on a good meal!
The roads to Saturnia or in Tuscany in general are not for the faint of heart. Sometimes the navigation screen was almost comical displaying all of the curving roads. It really causes this grid loving Chicagoan to scratch her head. But who cares when you are in Tuscany, right?
We arrived to a warm and inviting resort, with friendly staff, and pristine decor. Upon arrival, there is no denying you are at sulfur hot springs. The smell is a persistent and constant reminder that I actually grew to enjoy. It has in fact become synonymous with relaxation.
The lobby of the Saturnia Resort and Spa.
One of my favorite things about spas is that it is one of the few places on earth where wearing a robe 24/7 is not only accepted but encouraged. So, the first morning, I was more than happy to put on my robe and slippers and head to breakfast.
The resort offers only buffets for breakfast and lunch. For Dinner they offer a buffet as well as two restaurant options. Usually when I hear buffet, it isn't exactly enticing, but I have to say, they certainly know how to do the buffet well. Most of the options are local and that certainly makes a world of difference when it comes to produce.
For breakfast we had options of a variety of croissants, cakes, breads, jams, honey from the comb, yogurt, cereals, fruit, bacon, eggs, salmon, cheese, cured meats, potatoes and several freshly squeezed juices. All of this delicious food again made me grateful to be wearing a big puffy white robe.
We explored the resort while we let our breakfast settle. There are furniture vignettes throughout perfect for relaxing with family and friends, as well as card tables, a gift shops, and a bar with a live pianist. The whole space invites you to relax, play and be refreshed.
After some exploration we were ready to lay under the Tuscan sun. I was eager to see what the fuss was all about with these sulfur hot springs. The smell is intense. I won't lie to you. It's like hitting a wall of stinky eggs. If you can get past that, it is quite the experience.
For thousands of year, people have been using hot springs for healing and wellness. Some of the benefits of natural spring waters are:
- The treatment of various skin conditions
- A natural exfoliating, peeling effect and deep antiseptic cleansing action
- A vasodilatory effect on the cardiovascular and respiratory system, reducing the arterial pressure
- A protective, antioxidizing/antiageing and cleansing effect on the liver
- Reduces tension in the cardiovascular and respiratory systems
- Boosts respiration and increases pulmonary ventilation
I have to say, my skin did feel exceptionally soft to the touch, and I was certainly relaxed. Besides all of this, it is an incredibly beautiful natural phenomenon.
The variations in water color reflect the algae which grows on the bottom of the springs. This pool while it may look common in the photo is actually home to the hot springs. They bubble up from the bottom, and produce the lovely smell we are all familiar with. The algae breaks loose from the rocks and earth on the bottom and rises to the top. At which point, it can be used to rub on skin for extra cleansing properties.
While this pool is the main attraction, there are several smaller hot tubs, waterfalls and some in door roman baths and Turkish saunas as well.
Both lunch and breakfast are served with indoor and outdoor seating. No reservations are needed, and as I said before... come in your robe, ready to eat.
I think this picture describes lunch better than can be done in words. I will just add that there is something for everyone. Always a pasta dish at the ready, vegetarian, low carb and sugar options as well. Most of the products are from the Tuscan region so you can be sure you are eating local, and fresh.
After lunch, we took advantage of some of the resorts other offerings. Thankfully, I was able to keep my robe on while playing a few games of ping-pong in the shaded gardens.
Saturnia offers the rental of mountain bikes for no extra cost, simply pick one out and be on your way. We biked a bit of the Tuscan hills near by, and we were certainly in good company. Cycling is quite a popular hobby in the area. I suppose the hills, and winding roads make for the most interesting of cycling conditions. The views sure can't be beat either.
A main draw for Saturnia is golf. They offer an 18 hole course in the hills. After a long game of golf or a cycling excursion the spa is waiting as a source of rejuvenation once again.
The Spa is full service offering massages of all kinds, facials and beauty services. There are even options for using special products and treatments particular the this area of Tuscany. The staff will help you choose from their menu of services to create the perfect experience for your relaxation needs.
Once you are tired, but beautiful enjoy one of the resorts several dinner options, or choose from the incredible near by Tuscan restaurants and wineries. Yelp and google will do the trick in helping you find a great place near by. Be sure to add your own reviews, as the locals appreciate your interest.
Overall, Saturnia is a fascinating place. Wonderful service, gorgeous views, top notch relaxation and delectable food. There are few places where it is possible to be so in touch with nature while surrounded by the accommodations of a critically acclaimed resort. I will say, while it is completely family friendly, and offers a few fun activities to do, Saturnia is best suited for those who love to golf, and caters to an older more mature crowd.
For more information on this beautiful Tuscan gem and natural sulfur hot springs visit Saturnia.