Bagno Vignoni, the thermal baths of Val d’Orcia
The small and charming medieval village of Bagno Vignoni is a real gem. Bagno Vignoni is located in the heart of the Parco della Val d’Orcia, a UNESCO heritage site, within the municipal area of San Quirico d’Orcia. This village is among the most known and appreciated destinations in the whole area both for the beauty of the place and for the presence of the thermal baths. Tuscany is a region rich in spa resorts and in this area there are several but Bagno Vignoni has a historicity and characteristics that make it truly unique.
Known since ancient times, the center was frequented by both the Etruscans and the Romans. The peoples of antiquity knew well and appreciated the beneficial properties of the thermal waters of Bagno Vignoni. The extreme proximity to the Via Francigena contributed to the success of this locality even in medieval times. In the Middle Ages a real spa was developed which was under the control first of the Salimbeni, then of the Sforza and Chigi. Over the centuries this has become the most famous spa in the Val d’Orcia.
Bagno Vignoni’s fame is testified by the frequentation of some of the illustrious personalities of the history of Tuscany. Among these are Pope Pius II, a native of nearby Pienza which at the time was called Corsignano, Lorenzo de’ Medici, the Magnificent, who used to retire to the baths of Bagno Vignoni to treat himself and study and Santa Caterina da Siena who often went in Bagno Vignoni to pray alone.
And today? Today Bagno Vignoni is still a well known and appreciated destination by travelers from all over the world; but not only that, Bagno Vignoni was also chosen as a location for some films. Here some scenes of Nostalghia by director Andrej Arsen’evič Tarkovskij, winner of the Grand Prix du cinéma de création at the Cannes Film Festival, Al lupo al lupo by Carlo Verdone, and La scuola più bella del mondo by Luca Miniero with Christian De were shot Sica and Rocco Papaleo.
What to do in Bagno Vignoni
Piazza delle sorgenti
The beautiful Piazza delle sorgenti is what makes Bagno Vignoni a unique place. It is a large basin, 49 meters long and 29 meters wide, built right above the thermal water source. This is the heart of the spa even if today it is not possible to bathe directly inside the square. The water here flows at a particularly high temperature, around 50 celsius degrees, creating a magical atmosphere especially at night and in winter when the steam rises, enveloping the pool and the surrounding buildings.
Santa Caterina da Siena was one of the great personalities who frequented the baths of Bagno Vignoni. The link between the Sienese saint and the small town of Val d’Orcia was very strong and in fact a loggia directly overlooking the thermal pool, the loggiato di Santa Caterina, and a chapel were dedicated to Caterina.
Chiesa di San Giovanni Battista
The Church of San Giovanni Battista also overlooks the Piazza delle sorgenti. The church, once elevated to the rank of parish, has a very simple facade and a small bell gable. Inside there is a painting and a fresco. The painting, a Sienese school of the 18th century, portrays Saint Catherine of Siena with Bagno Vignoni in the background. The fresco, from the chapel of Santa Caterina, depicts the resurrection of Christ.
Parco dei Mulini
In medieval times, the waters of the thermal spring were also used to feed the mills which, thanks to the constant flow guaranteed by the spring, remained active throughout the year. In this area, where the water comes through a waterfall, the Parco naturale dei Mulini was established in 1997. From the Piazza delle Sorgenti, the water is channeled in small courses that descend from the hill to the area of the mills and reach another rectangular basin which is located further down. Often these small channels are used to soak the feet, while in the lower pool you can bathe for free. In addition to the free spas in Bagno Vignoni there are also paid spas that are located in the immediate vicinity of the center.
What to do near Bagno Vignoni
Bagno Vignoni is located in the municipality of San Quirico d’Orcia, a beautiful medieval village that should never be missing in any tour of the Val d’Orcia. The town has a lot to offer visitors and nearby are some of the area’s most famous viewpoints.
A short distance from Bagno Vignoni, we find the towns of Castiglione d’Orcia and Rocca d’Orcia, located 5 kilometers south. Among the other destinations in the valley, in addition to the aforementioned San Quirico d’Orcia, we absolutely recommend you to visit the “ideal city” of the Renaissance Pienza, Montalcino the home of the renowned Brunello wine, and the beautiful Abbey of Sant’Antimo where you can also attend to the Gregorian chants.
Other thermal baths in Val d’Orcia
To stay on the subject of spas, about 17 kilometers along the road to Radicofani, there are also the beautiful natural spas of Bagni San Filippo. The thermal waters of Bagni San Filippo are famous for having generated extraordinary limestone formations such as the so-called “Balena Bianca” (White Whale).
How to get to Bagno Vignoni
Bagno Vignoni is located at a distance of 6 kilometers from San Quirico d’Orcia and 50 kilometers from Siena. It is not at all convenient to reach the village by public transport, therefore you will have to take the car.
From Siena it takes about an hour and the road to take to reach Bagno Vignoni is the Via Cassia SR2 heading south. Along the way you will pass by San Quirico and then after a few minutes you will be at your destination.
From Florence it takes just under two hours: Florence-Siena motorway connection to Siena and then Via Cassia to destination.
From Rome you have to take the A1 motorway to the Chianciano exit and then follow towards Cassia and Bagno Vignoni.
By public transport you will have to take a train to Buonconvento, then two buses: one to San Quirico d’Orcia and one to Bagno Vignoni.