San Giuliano Terme in the province of Pisa
San Giuliano Terme is a town in the Province of Pisa, known since ancient times for its thermal waters. The city is located in the Tuscan hinterland halfway between Pisa and Lucca. It is a truly enviable position, close to some of the most important art cities of Tuscany, near the beautiful Migliarino Park, San Rossore, Massaciuccoli and not far from the sea. If you are looking for a place to spend a holiday dedicated to relaxation and nature, you are in the right place!
The thermal baths of San Giuliano were already known in Roman times when they were called “aquae pisanae“. The remains of the Caldaccoli aqueduct, which carried the water from the Caldaccoli thermal spring to the thermal baths of Pisa (the so-called “Bagni di Nerone”) also date back to that time.
During the Middle Ages, the area where San Giuliano stands became a border area between the territories of Pisa and Lucca. The nearby pass on Monte Pisano was the main passage between one territory and another. In fact, it is no coincidence that among the documents of the time we find deeds of donation to the Church of Blessed San Giuliano to which a hospital was connected, the “Spedale di San Giuliano del Monte”, which offered numerous services to travelers.
After the Florentine conquest of Pisa (1406), the thermal baths of San Giuliano underwent a period of abandonment and decline that was interrupted only at the end of the fifteenth century when the Medici finally started work aimed at restoring the baths and building new structures. In the eighteenth century, with the Lorraine grand duchy, San Giuliano experienced a new great development becoming a famous destination among the nobles from all over Europe.
What to do and what to see in San Giuliano Terme and surroundings
The thermal baths have always been the main attraction of San Giuliano and even today this town boasts a very high level establishment. The thermal baths are not the only reason to visit San Giuliano. The city is a perfect starting point for many excursions into nature and along ancient paths. To see there are several historic villas, the Rocca di Ripafratta and many other fascinating monuments.
- Thermal baths of San Giuliano
- What to see in San GiulianoTerme
- How to get to San Giuliano Terme
- Where to sleep
Thermal baths of San Giuliano
Bagni di Pisa, the thermal baths of San Giuliano
Known since Roman times (the first to mention it is Pliny the Elder) and which became internationally famous towards the end of the 18th century, the baths of San Giuliano are still very popular. Today, the thermal baths of San Giuliano are located within the Bagni di Pisa establishment, a resort that also includes a spa and a 5-star hotel. Inside the center you can enjoy various therapies and spa treatments, wellness programs and experiences.
The thermal waters of San Giuliano flow from Monte San Giuliano at a temperature of 38 degrees and are of the sulphate-bicarbonate-calcium-magnesic type. Their characteristics make them particularly suitable for the treatment and prevention of many pathologies affecting the musculoskeletal system (inflammatory, degenerative and traumatic diseases of the muscles and skeleton, the respiratory one (rhino-sinus and bronchial infections), and cardiovascular system (phlebitis and microcirculatory pathologies such as cellulite).
What to see in San Giuliano Terme
Between 1400 and 1800 numerous families of Pisan and Florentine nobles chose Monte Pisano to build their villas. It must be understood: the area is very beautiful, the climate is mild and there are also spas. In recent years, most of these villas have been restored and restored to their former glory. Some of these villas are now used as accommodation facilities, locations for events and weddings but also as venues for cultural and recreational events.
Among the most beautiful and well-known are the Villa di Corliano which has been converted into a luxury hotel and location for events, the Villa Roncioni which in the past was the set of some films and today houses the Cerratelli Foundation which collects an important collection of theatrical and cinematographic costumes, Villa Le Molina and Villa Alta which today are hotels and locations for weddings, and Villa Dal Borgo di Pugnano which for some years has been the scene of cultural initiatives and various ceremonies.
The Parco dell’Anfiteatro of San Giuliano Terme is located on a hill just outside the town. Surrounded by nature and with grass-covered stands, this theater is an ideal place for those seeking relaxation. Thanks to its position, this park is an excellent panoramic point of view not only on San Giuliano Terme but also on the whole surrounding area. From the park you can also see the city of Pisa in the distance with the Leaning Tower, the Duomo and the Baptistery in plain sight.
Rocca di Ripafratta
The Rocca di Ripafratta is located on a hill in the immediate vicinity of the village of Ripafratta, a few kilometers from San Giuliano Terme. Built by the noble feudal lords of Ripafratta, the castle stands in a strategic position along the border between Pisa and Lucca. Located at the center of a complex defensive system that served to ensure control of the roads, rivers and the border between the two rival cities. Involved in numerous wars between the cities of Tuscany, the fortress was eventually conquered by Florence who modernized it at the beginning of the sixteenth century. The work was entrusted to the architect Giuliano da Sangallo who made it almost impregnable and resistant even to new firearms.
With the peace reached in the grand-ducal era, the fortress lost its strategic importance and over time was abandoned, facing an inexorable decline. Even today the fortress is in poor condition, but it was recently purchased by the Municipality of San Giuliano Terme which, we hope, will bring it back to its former glory.
Visiting the complex you can still appreciate many of its defensive structures even if largely in ruins. The interventions of Sangallo are well noticed, also because they are made of bricks, some medieval towers, the walls and the remains of the keep in the center of the fortress.
There are many nature trails to do in the surroundings of San Giuliano Terme, many of these winding through the protected and non-protected areas of Monte Pisano, offering beautiful experiences in nature.
San Giuliano Terme is one of the five municipalities involved in the Strada dell’Olio dei Monti Pisani project that goes from Buti to Vecchiano. Along the way you will find the Valle delle Fonti natural area, the Medici aqueduct, Mount Castellare and the Buca delle Fate, a cave 185 meters deep.
A trekking route starts from the Amphitheater Park and climbs up Monte Pisano up to the Passo di Dante. This was the mountain pass used in the past to reach the Lucca side. It is called Dante’s Pass because it is mentioned in the Divine Comedy (Canto 33 of Hell). This route is about 6 kilometers long and is quite simple.
The hamlets of Ghezzano and Asciano are connected by the Via dei Condotti which runs next to the Medici Aqueduct. Here there is also an ideal cycle / pedestrian path for an easy and relaxing walk.
Another very interesting trekking itinerary is the one that leads from San Giuliano Terme to the Eremo della Spelonca on Monte Pisano. It is a walk of about 3 kilometers with a difference in altitude of 300 meters. Alternatively, you can reach the Dante Pass, from there get to the hermitage and then return to San Giuliano Terme.
Last but not least, there is the Natural Park of Migliarino, San Rossore and Massaciuccoli which divides San Giuliano Terme from the sea. It is one of the largest and most beautiful parks in all of Tuscany and is rich in natural environments and beautiful places to see.
How to get to San Giuliano Terme
San Giuliano Terme is located at a distance of just 5 kilometers from Pisa, 11 from Lucca and 80 from Florence. The city is easy to reach both by car and by public transport. In San Giuliano there is a railway station served by regional trains that connect Pisa with Lucca. One leaves every half hour and takes you to San Giuliano station in just a few minutes. If you are coming from another city, it is probably better to arrive in Pisa and then take the direct train to San Giuliano Terme.
By car, both from Pisa and Lucca you have to take the Strada Statale 12, 10 minutes from Pisa and 20 from Lucca. From Florence (about 2 hours) you can choose between the A11 motorway to the Lucca Est exit and the Fi-Pi-Li to take it to the Pisa Nord Est exit.
The closest airport is that of Pisa which is connected to San Giuliano Terme by a bus line, and to the station of Pisa by an internal train.
Where to sleep in San Giuliano Terme
If you have a good budget you can book in one of the magnificent historic villas of San Giuliano. Alternatively, both in the city and in the surrounding area and obviously also in nearby Pisa, you will find a wide choice of hotels, farmhouses and bed an breakfast suitable for all budgets.
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