Bagno Vignoni: the Etruscan spa resort
Waters first discovered by the Etruscans
Bagno Vignoni is in the heart of Tuscany, on the Via Francigena (the ancient pilgrims’ route that unites Canterbury in the UK and Rome). This tiny village has long been a resting place for people travelling through the region. The Piazza delle Sorgenti is in the centre of the village and consists of a large rectangular pool which holds the original spring (‘sorgente’) that provided the town with its thermal waters. The warm water comes from a deep underground volcanic spring. The curative properties of the waters at Bagno Vignoni were first discovered by the Etruscans. Much evidence of their settlements in this territory is still visible today. The Romans, who are famous for their love of thermal spas, also enjoyed the waters here.
The spa at Bagno Vignoni has had many famous visitors such as Pope Pious II, Saint Catherine from Siena and Lorenzo de Medici. Also, many poets, writers and artists have found inspiration in the relaxing spa over the years. Bagno Vignoni is in the heart of Tuscany’s Val d’Orcia region, not far from Pienza and Montalcino in the province of Siena. The ancient village takes its name from Vignoni, a castle first mentioned in the 11th century which still overlooks the village today. The ‘Bagno’ part of the village’s name was added by the Romans who greatly enjoyed the thermal waters. Many archaeological artefacts have been found from the Roman era in Bagno Vignoni and can now be viewed in Chigi collection in Siena’s National Archaeological Museum.
In the twelfth century, the spa belonged to the Tignosi family who ruled Tintinnano (present day Rocca d’Orcia). At the start of the fourteenth century, the village and the many surrounding villages and castles passed into the hands of the Salimbeni family from Siena. They maintained control over the village until 1417, when Antonia Salimbeni’s second husband, Attendolo Sforza, sold it to Siena. Bagno Vignoni has changed little over the centuries which makes it a really interesting town to visit. The town’s main square consists of a pool of steaming thermal water which flows from an underground spring at a constant temperature of 52 degrees centigrade, making it a truly unique square. The pool in the main square is a metre and a half high and is surrounded by buildings constructed by Bernardo Rossellino to honour Pope Pious II and including the place where Saint Catherine of Siena stayed.
The thermal waters at Bagno Vignoni are known for their special properties and are particularly renowned for their use in treating neuralgic and arthritic conditions, inflammations, rheumatism and respiratory and gynaecological problems. The spring flows into a large sixteenth century pool.