How to visit Saturnia hot springs, the most famous free hot springs in Tuscany and the nearby thermal baths.
Saturnia is a small locality in the South of Tuscany, famous for its natural hot springs and free scenic thermal baths.
The locality has been known for its free hot waters for decades and I can still remember the evening drive here, when I was a kid, for evening dip when I was a kid!
However, it is only in recent years that the hot springs have reached worldwide notoriety and have started attracted visitors also from faraway places as one of the best hot springs of Tuscany.
The reason for this new popularity is due to some aerial shot that managed ti capture the beauty of this location like never before.
Have you ever seen a photo of Tuscany hot springs cascading down, forming translucent little pools of water, overlooked ny an ancient country hone? That is Saturnia!
And this is all you need to know to plan a visit.
Where are Saturnia hot springs and how to get there
Saturnia free hot springs or ‘Cascate del Mulino’ as the locality is called are located in the South of Tuscany.
They are accessible by car only and the closest cities and towns are:
- Rome – about than 2 hours by car
- Pitigliano – less than 30 mins by car
- Orvieto – about 1.5 hours by car
- The Etruscan Coast – less than 1 hour by car
On the GPS the locality is identified as ‘Cascate del Mulino’ and they are along SP10 (Strada Provinciale 10, a local road).
Depending on the direction you come from, you may find them on your right or you can have a first glimpse of the them from the top of the hill above them, the beautiful pull out location many photos are taken from!
Just beside the hot spring there is a car park and small cafe, in the high season, sells snacks and offers access to toilet facilities.
Good to know: Cascate del Mulino are Saturnia free hot springs. If you prefer a spa and thermal baths treatment center, you will find the Saturnia spa hotel just in front.
What is special about Saturnia hot springs
Saturnia hot springs are famous for being scenic and free thermal baths.
Here, thermal warm water springs from the ground and cascades down the slope of a small hill creating pretty pools of translucent water with the delightful temperature of about 37C all year round (about body temperature).
During the winter, the temperature of the water is sufficiently high to create a lovely effect of steam hovering over the pools.
If you come here at night or early the morning, when the number of visitors is at its minimum, the atmosphere is magical and you wold think you have stepped into a medieval fairytale!
The thermal waters of Saturnia are said to have healing properties: they are sulfur rich and they are said to be good for respiratory ailments, muscular-scheletal aches, the skin and digestive system.
What does Saturnia mean?
The spring seems to have been known since ancient times and their names seems connected to that of Saturn (Saturn > Saturnia). The ancient tRoman God is said to have hit the soil here with a bolt, creating a constant water flow!
Nowadays, the name Saturnia keeps memory of that story however, the name ‘Cascate del Mulino’ also adds a descriptive element to the location:
‘Cascate’ means waterfalls, to evoke the cascading of the waters down the slope
- Cascate in Italian means waterfalls
- ‘Del Mulino’ means ‘of the mill’, the small and picturesque construction at their top.
The best way to experience Saturnia is to start with a birds-eye view of the springs and then drive down to the access area.
Where to park for Saturnia hot Springs
The free hot springs of Saturnia are served by a large car park just before the access to the river.
From the main road, you need to follow the sings for ‘Cascate del Mulino’ (aka Cascatelle or Cascate del Gorello) and then turn off the main road once you reach the Terme di Saturnia Golf resort, which is just in front of the free springs.
After a short drive, you will find a large area where you can leave the car.
Please be advised that there is no security at the car park: do not leave valuables unattended.
Need to know! Saturnia’s hot waters are rich in sulfur and minerals and can severely damage jewelry. Make sure you take off valuables as they can easily get tarnished! You may want to consider bringing a safe, waterproof pouch or dry bag you can keep with you so you can keel your jewellery safe and with you at all times rather than in the car.
How to access Saturnia hot springs
Once you leave the car, the cascate are only a few meters down a dirt path: once in the area, you cannot miss it.
Coming from the car park, you approach the springs from the top, so to get in you will need to climb down.
This is not hard to do however, you need to pay attention especially if the area is crowded.
The rocks here are covered by the white limestone sediment that is typical of the area and while they may look as fluffy snow covered pillows, they are hard and slippery, definitely not a good place for a fall!
You do not need special shoes to enter the water however, if you have water shoes they can come in handy.
If you don’t, don’t worry: you just need to be careful and, if you have kids with you (see below), make sure they don’t just run ahead.
From the top, the cascate are in full view and truly quite lovely.
You can pick the height of your pool and perch yourself close to the top of the mountain of go all the way to the river below, often less crowded.
The best time to visit Saturnia hot springs and how long should you spend here
Saturnia hot springs are open all year round however, autumn and spring are by far the most pleasant seasons.
In the summer, the area gets incredibly hot and the cascate are battered by the incessant sun, with very little to no sun protection.
This means that, while fun, you will not be able to escape the sun and will not find solace in the water since it will be at the very least at your body temperature!
In winter it can be very pleasant to be in the waters but you need to be prepared for the moment you get out of it.
The free hot springs are literally a stretch of river so you don’t have warm areas so get changed or shower before getting home.
If coming in winter, good towels and warming clothes for after your bath are paramount.
Need to know! The free Saturnia thermal springs have no facilities as such however, there is a small cafe open seasonally which has toilets and showers that can be used for a quick change of clothes. Most people will however get changed in the car.
Access to the springs is free so there is no time limit as such to your visit. Usually, people stay up to a couple of hours or less in the hot season.
What to bring when visiting Saturnia hot springs
For a pleasant experience at Saturnia I recommend you bring:
- Swimsuit: the pools are deep and large enough to allow you to sit comfortably in them and be at least partially covered by the water so havin a swimsuit is paramount, if you want to do more than just tipping your toes in
- Water shoes: the springs are along a rocky slope so while you won’t need water shoes, they will come a long way to help you move around safely. I highly recommend especially if you are visiting with kids (see below): you can find good kids water shoes we like here.
- Sun hat and sun screen for the summer. There is no shade here and the temperature can get really high, especially if you are in Italy in July or August.
- Water and food – a small cafe is open in the busy seasons but I recommend you bring your own water. The water can make you rather dehydrated so having your own bottle will save you time and money. I recommend you bring your own reusable water bottle to limit waste in this natural spot.
- Money – if you get here when the cafe is open, this is a nice place for a drink or snack
- A flashlight – if visiting after dark at night, a flashlight to help you find your way is paramount
Visiting the hot springs of Saturnia with kids
Saturnia is very easy to enjoy with kids however, you may want to take into account the following:
The dirt and rocks can be very hard on their feet and pose a tripping hazard: we found that bring water shoes or sandals for them allowed them to be significantly safer and enjoy the whole experience more
The place is not easy for toddlers and can pose serious hazard to them if left unattended. Hold hands when approaching the pools and check carefully the heat: some can get pretty hot for them, so an adult eye is paramount.
Be very careful of the sun if visiting in summer: the hot weather, hot water and the lack of shade can be too much for little kids – avoid the central hours of the day if coming in the hot season and make sure they have sun hat, sun screen and water always with them.
Bring food and drink so yo don’t have to rely on the cafe, not always open
Are the Saturnia hot springs worth it
The Saturnia hot springs are worth a stop however, I do feel like warning about what to actually expect, especially if you are going after seeing the glossy aerial images of the area that make is look empty and ethereal.
Saturnia is just as it looks in the photo however, these are free baths which means they can get very very crowded and noisy.
This is not enough to ruin your visit however, do expect to be sharing the pools with others and not be able to take photos of the place empty and eerie unless you come very early in the morning (before 7am).
How to catch a birds- eye view of Saturnia thermal springs without a drone
Some of the best photos of Saturnia are take with drones however, you don’t need a flying object to enjoy a birdseye vier of Saturnia. All you need to do is drive up to the lookout along SP 10!
This is only a short drive from the hot springs up the hill and you find the lookout immediately to your right.
The road doesn’t pose particular driving difficulties however, it has some sharp curves and you should approach it with caution.
Be exceptionally vigilant if you get to the pullout going to the springs rather driving up from them. In this case, you are on the wrong side of the road and pulling out would don’t be safe.
The best way to get there is to drive further down, safely turn the car and drive back up. It will be worth it!
I hope you enjoyed this travel tips for visiting Saturnia, Italy. Safe travel planning!
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