Gambassi, the thermal baths of the Val d’Elsa
Gambassi Terme is a Val d’Elsa town that is part of the province of Florence from which it is 50 kilometers away. The center stands in a pleasant hilly position along the historic route of the Via Francigena, so much so that the nearby Pieve di Santa Maria Assunta is mentioned by Sigeric, archbishop of Canterbury, in his travel report of 990-994.
The position along such an important road made Gambassi quite important and in fact here there was a castle long controlled by the Bishops of Volterra and subsequently entered into the orbit of San Gimignano before joining the Florentine territories in 1293. Starting from the 13th century Gambassi was an important center for glass processing as documented by the Mostra permanente sul vetro preindustriale (permanent exhibition on pre-industrial glass).
In 1774 Gambassi was merged into the municipality of Montaione and managed to regain its independence only in 1917 after long years of disputes. The name “Gambassi Terme” is rather recent since it dates back to 1977 when the spa resort that uses the Pillo thermal spring was created.
The Gambassi thermal baths
The Terme della Via Francigena in Gambassi use the Salsa di Pillo water, which has been known for centuries for its beneficial properties. In particular, the organoleptic and chemical characteristics of this water make it particularly valid for treating pathologies affecting the respiratory and gastrointestinal systems. Since it is a water with a temperature of just 15 ° C, it is classified as “cold thermal water”.
What to see in Gambassi Terme
In addition to the classic walk in the historic center, always able to give some pleasant surprises, I recommend you visit the Parco Comunale (Municipal Park) which was once the garden belonging to Villa Sinnai and the Mostra permanente sul vetro preindustriale that collects the results of studies and archaeological research on the art of Italian and local glassmakers.
The monument that attracts the most attention, however, is certainly the Pieve di Chianni.
Pieve di Santa Maria Assunta
The Pieve di Santa Maria Assunta in Chianni is a jewel of Romanesque art. The façade is characterized by a beautiful portal consisting of three arches, of which only the central one open, surmounted by two blind galleries composed of arches supported by columns in the round. The interior, with three naves, is marked by a double row of columns. Note how each column has a different capital from the others since each one is decorated with a specific motif.
Gambassi Terme and the Via Francigena
As we said, Gambassi is located on the ancient route of the Via Francigena and is a stop halfway between Castelfiorentino and San Gimignano. Over the years the Via Francigena has attracted the attention of an ever increasing number of people who approach this ancient path to enjoy the surrounding nature and the beauties scattered along its route. The stage from Gambassi to San Gimignano is very beautiful and also quite easy since it has a length of about 13 kilometers and does not have excessive differences in height, therefore I would recommend it to everyone.
What to see around Gambassi Terme
Gambassi Terme is located in the middle of the Val d’Elsa, a very beautiful area of Tuscany, full of interesting places to visit. Among the most noteworthy villages near Gambassi Terme are Certaldo, Castelfiorentino, Colle di Val d’Elsa, Monteriggioni and, of course, San Gimignano.
How to get to Gambassi Terme
By car: from Florence it is probably better to take the Florence-Pisa-Livorno till the Empoli exit and then continue on the regional road 429 to Castelfiorentino and then on the provincial road 4. Alternatively you can take the Florence-Siena to Poggibonsi and then continue in the direction of Certaldo and Gambassi. Another option, Fi-Pi-Li up to Ginestra Fiorentina and then provincial road 4 Volterrana.
Public transport: Gambassi does not have its own railway station. The closest ones are in Castelfiorentino and Certaldo. From there you can reach the village with a bus of the SITA bus.