30 April 2011

A Saturnia a Maremma in Toscana

Throughout Italy are terme (thermal baths, hot springs).  One such hot spot is a town called Saturnia, located in the Maremma part of Tuscany. Some of you know Saturnia is a zoological word that refers to a type of butterfly.  Quite possibly a few of you assume it has to do with the planet Saturn. Must I admit which category of people I previously fell into? Well, here is a little lesson that even I needed to learn.
16th century Synagogue in Petigliano
Petigliano aka "Little Jerusalem"

The Romans stole, almost completely, their mythology from the predecessor Greek mythology.  (Mostly it was only the names of the Greek gods the Romans changed; their attributes remained the same.)  It is the Roman god, Saturn, from the Greek god, Kronos, that gives the name to the term, Saturnia. The mito (myth), as recounted on Wikipedia, is that Saturn was tired of the constant human wars and sent a thunderbolt to earth that created a spring of sulphurous water that would pacify mankind.

Saturnia from the road above and the gorgeous landscape of the region
Only a car makes it possible to reach many destinations in the interior -- despite Italy's fantastic train system.
 Gorgeous, no?
arch of antiquity
Five girls rented a car and went on a road trip.  Two of the five of us are extra furry and use four feet instead of only two.
Mabel chases Millie (aka "M&M") at our agriturismo
Cindy Lauper was right, "Girls just wanna have fun"

Our destination was an agriturismo in Saturnia.  We were welcomed by Marta and Cristina (mother and daughter).  Because we arrived early in the season, middle of April, we were the only guests.  We were treated well, and I recommend you to stay at this conveniently located agriturismo (holiday farm), if you plan a trip to the region.  
 From these "pecorini" (sheep)...
...we get this,
wheels of famous pecorino di Pienza cheese.  Yummy!

Each morning we followed the steam along the road to the therapeutic sulphur baths and immersed our tired and worn bodies into the cascading water. Afterwards, we returned to our agriturismo to wash away the stinky water and eat a bountiful breakfast. Cristina is most helpful and full of knowledge and information to make your stay even better.
Bathing beauties
Saturnia and the baths were our destination.  Of course, there are many fancy and costly spas, but we opted for the free and natural spas.  Along the journey and each day, we stopped in a few Etruscan and Medieval towns.  I have wanted to go to many towns -- Montepulciano, Pienza, Saturnia -- for a long time. Other towns -- Sorano, Sovana, Petigliano, Proceno -- I was not aware even existed. We also spent a day in Argentario, an island connected with an isthmus or two or three (say that five times really fast without a lisp).  We planned to take a 10 km panoramic drive and somehow ended up on the strada bianca (literally "white road," but in reality, a nice way of saying "you're lost."  It is an unpaved road, full of holes, jagged rocks and boulders, on one side of the car is falling rock from the mountainside, and on the other side of the car is a cliff with no barricade to the sea very far below.)

Sovana ... or is it Sorano?

Sorano (above 3 fotos)
We survived.  Of course, we returned to the baths at Saturnia to relax and laugh about the apparent wrong turn.
an Etruscan, I believe, stairway in Petigliano

There is always an adventure waiting to happen when traveling and exploring, especially when in the company of good friends.


  1. You're enticing me....this is the excursion I would enjoy. Ruins and hot baths....heaven.

  2. Nice to have met you!!and thank you very much to visiting our region!!It is very helpful for us...Cristina di Pian di Cataverna...

  3. Cristina, I wrote what I wrote because I mean it. I enjoyed your agriturismo.
    Ricordi di me per la raccolta.