Thermal baths and historic town: what to do in Rapolano Terme?
Located on the ridge between the Ombrone valley and the Val di Chiana, Rapolano Terme is one of the most important spas in the province of Siena. The town is located just 25 kilometers from the city of the Palio and is inserted in the beautiful landscape of the Crete Senesi. A well-known spa center since the 13th century, thanks to its establishments, Rapolano is one of the main tourist attractions in the area. In 1867 the italian hero Giuseppe Garibaldi chose the warm waters of Rapolano to recover from the injuries sustained during the battles on the Aspromonte. Today Rapolano Terme is a destination for romantic weekends and holidays in both winter and summer.
The thermal baths of Rapolano Terme
The presence of thermal springs has enabled the construction of two spas: the terme di San Giovanni, located a couple of kilometres southwest from the Centre, and the terme dell’Antica Querciolaia, located one kilometer to the northeast.
The waters of Rapolano flow at a temperature of 39 degrees Celsius (102,2 Fahrenheit) and are particularly suitable for the treatment of the respiratory system and for skin diseases; they are employed in various thermal treatments as aerosol, mud and baths.
Both spas have thermal pools and several services like massage centres, sports and wellness programs of various types.
Things to do in Rapolano Terme: the guide to the hamlet
The historic center of Rapolano terme preserves various traces of the past and numerous interesting monuments. Walking through its streets and squares you will notice a large use of travertine that comes from the nearby quarries that have been active since the sixteenth century. Among the main points of interest I would like to point out the medieval walls, some churches and the PArco dell’Acqua.
One of the access routes to the historic center is the beautiful Porta dei Tintori, which dates back to the 14th century; in its vicinity we can find part of the medieval walls with the circular towers built by the Sienese during the fourteenth century.
Chiesa di San Bartolomeo
Inside the town, in Piazza del Castellare in the oldest area of the town, stands the fourteenth-century church of San Bartolomeo. Now without a facade, since it was incorporated between two buildings, the church shows us a side where the access portal is located and you can see a second portal that has been walled up. Inside there are some 14th century frescoes, a stucco altar dedicated to Saint Anthony of Padua and a beautiful canvas depicting the Madonna and Child with Saints by Vincenzo Rustici.
Chiesa del Corpus Domini
Also known as the church of the Fraternity, the church of Corpus Domini overlooks the central Piazza Matteotti. This church certainly does not shine for its exterior, which to be honest is decidedly anonymous, but inside it preserves some interesting works such as the fresco Madonna and Child with Saints John the Baptist and Jerome referable to the workshop of Girolamo di Benvenuto and the altar seventeenth-century which is decorated with two statues (Virgin and Angel announcing) and two works by Francesco Bartalini: the Madonna of the Rosary and the Fifteen mysteries of the Rosary.
Pieve di San Vittore
Just outside the village, not far from the train station, stands the pieve di San Vittore. It is a simple but interesting romanesque style building is documented since the 11th century.
The Church has three naves with a semicircular apse; inside there is a fragment of a fresco with San Ansano (end of the fourteenth century) and a polychrome terracotta of the early 16th century, depicting the Madonna and child.
The Parco dell’Acqua of Rapolano is located in the new part of the city, a stone’s throw from the Terme dell’Antica Querciolaia. Built near an ancient quarry, now abandoned and transformed into a lake, the park hosts a series of sculptures made of travertine, the symbolic material of the village. The sculptures were created by numerous Italian and international artists such as Mauro Berrettini, Marcello Aitiani, Rinaldo Bigi, Canuti, Pietro Cascella, Joshito Fujibe, Emanuele Giannetti, Rainer Irrgang, Kosei Maeda, Kiwame Kubo, Yoshin Ogata, Jean Paul Philippe, Paolo Schiavocampo , Joe Tilson and Cordelia Von Den Steinen. The evocative Parco dell’Acqua is a beautiful open-air museum that offers an excellent combination of greenery and art.
What to see around Rapolano
The surroundings of Rapolano really have a lot to offer. There are numerous historical villages such as Asciano, Buonconvento and Trequanda, castles, ancient churches, archaeological sites and numerous alternatives for hiking and long walks in the hills of the Crete. In this sense, I recommend that you take into consideration the ancient Via Lauretana which goes from Siena to Cortona, also passing through Serre di Rapolano. Among the things to see in the area, a special mention goes to the extraordinary Abbey of Monte Oliveto Maggiore, a grandiose monastic complex rich in history.
Hamlets near Rapolano
The municipality of Rapolano Terre has five hamlets, Armaiolo, Modanella, Poggio Santa Cecilia, San Gimignanello and Serre di Rapolano. Each of these hamlets has some interesting monuments to visit and a lot of history to tell. Serre di Rapolano has several prestigious monuments such as the Palazzo Gori Martini, the Antica Grancia, the Church of Santi Lorenzo and Andrea. The main attractions of Modanella and San Gimignanello are certainly their castles while that of Armaiolo was the scene of a bloody battle at the time of the war of Florence and Siena.
The last two things I want to point out are the Pieve di Sant’Andreino in La Cava and the Etruscan-Roman thermal baths located in Campo Muri. The site, dating back to the third century BC, has an extension of over 8,000 square meters and is located near the Terme di San Giovanni.
Parco Avventura Saltalbero
If you are looking for an outdoor activity with children, the Parco Avventura Saltalbero is probably the one for you. The park is located in Fontemaggio, in a beautiful wood in the hills of the Sienese countryside, just 2 kilometers from Rapolano. In the park there are several paths with Tibetan bridges, ladders and cableways that allow you to move among the trees. The less adventurous can instead relax in a hammock or take a nice walk in the woods.
How to get to Rapolano Terme
Rapolano Terme is very easy to reach both by car and by public transport as it has its own train station.
By car: from Rome the fastest way to reach the city is with the A1 motorway with the Valdichiana exit in the direction of Bettolle / Sinalunga. From there, follow the signs towards Siena following the Siena-Bettolle motorway link for about 20 kilometers until the exit for Serre di Rapolano. At this point there is only a kilometer and a half to go and just follow the signs for Rapolano.
If you come from Siena, on the other hand, you have to take the Siena-Bettolle connection eastwards until the exit for Rapolano. Those leaving from Florence can choose whether to take the A1 motorway or pass through Siena via the motorway junction: it takes more or less the same time.
By train: Rapolano can be reached by regional trains on the Siena-Chiusi route. From Siena it takes about half an hour.