Discover Bagno Vignoni, a small hamlet of San Quirico d’Orcia near Siena. The charming thermal village is among the most photographed locations in Tuscany.
Bagno Vignoni is a small town in the Val d’Orcia Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, accessible from the historic Via Cassia, but also one of the stops along the ancient Via Francigena route that joined Canterbury to Rome in the Middle Ages.
This small ancient village has very few inhabitants and can be toured in a couple of hours, but it is one of the most photographed in Italy by tourists from all over the world, attracted by its peculiarities.
One of these is the scenic Piazza delle Sorgenti occupied by the pool of thermal water gushing from a natural spring, 49 metres long and 29 metres wide, surrounded by stone houses and dominated by the 11th century Vignoni Castle. The square dates back to the Renaissance period and was built on the thermal spring once used by the Romans. They already knew of its curative and relaxing properties and, even before the Etruscans.
Bagno Vignoni has always attracted visitors for its thermal springs. Famous people have passed through here, such as Pope Pius II (Enea Silvio Piccolomini), Saint Catherine of Siena, Lorenzo de’ Medici, known as the Magnificent, and Michel de Montaigne, to name but a few.
And still today Bagno Vignoni is one of the most popular destinations in Tuscany, where one can spend short weekends and longer stays.
There are more than one chance of satisfaction here, including the relaxation of the thermal baths, excellent food, the surrounding nature of hilly landscapes, vineyards, cultivated fields, and then plenty of history that lives on in the art and architecture hidden in the small medieval villages. And in this guide we will discover the ones around Bagno Vignoni, after visiting this little Tuscan gem.
What to see in Bagno Vignoni
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Bagno Vignoni is a small all-stone medieval village, although the origin of the spa seems to be Etruscan. In the village you can breathe in all the history that has characterized it for centuries, so evocative as to create the right atmosphere for some scenes in the film “Nostalghia” by Andreij Tarkovskij. But that is not all.
Some scenes of “Wolf! Wolf!” (1992) by Carlo Verdone, and the film “The most beautiful school in the world” (2014) by Christian De Sica and Rocco Papaleo were also filmed in Bagno Vignoni.
Visiting Bagno Vignoni takes nearly a couple of hours. But you know time is very subjective: it depends on how much we want to enjoy the route, the exploration, the atmosphere of the historic centre with its narrow alleys, stone houses, small craft shops, and relaxation between visits.
Borgo and Piazza delle Sorgenti
Piazza delle Sorgenti is the centrepiece of Bagno Vignoni. Here is the large 16th century pool with hot, steamy thermal water coming from a 1,000-metre-deep underground aquifer of volcanic origin, but in which bathing is forbidden.
The waters, which gush out in the thermal pool, flow towards the Parco Naturale dei Mulini, which we will discuss shortly.
Around the water square, you can admire some historic Renaissance buildings: the Palazzo dei Priori, the Loggiato di Santa Caterina da Siena with its small chapel dating back to 1660, the Church of San Giovanni Battista, in medieval style, which preserves a painting depicting Santa Caterina da Siena and a fragment of a fresco dating back to the 17th century depicting the Risen Christ.
The most beautiful shots are those captured during winter evenings with the lights of the surrounding houses reflecting in the steaming pool of water.
Mulini Nature Park
What to see in Bagno Vignoni, if not its famous Parco Naturale dei Mulini?
The park is a protected natural area not far from the centre of Bagno Vignoni, with thermal baths and old mills that are now disused but still to be visited.
From the Middle Ages until the 1950s, the four mills dug into the rock in this area, along the Orcia river, were active. They have always represented a great resource for the Val d’Orcia territory, devoted to the cultivation of cereals.
The credit for their indefatigable work of grinding grain even during the summer, when the rivers are usually dry and water is scarce, was all from the thermal waters that flowed copiously throughout the year.
Today the mills are disused, but the area, on the initiative of the municipality of San Quirico d’Orcia, was transformed at the end of the 1990s into an archaeological itinerary that can be visited among the tanks and cisterns collecting the drainage water from the town’s thermal basin.
In the park you can go for visits to the mills, to enjoy the small natural “pools” and the relaxation that characterizes this place.
Ancient Roman Baths of Bagno Vignoni
To the south of the centre, descending to the foot of the hill, you arrive at the ancient thermal baths, the free thermal area where you can find the Roman-era baths surrounded by the hills and valleys of the Val d’Orcia.
A very peaceful place where you can regenerate yourself with the sulphurous waters rich in minerals such as calcium, magnesium and sulphur that flow from the various springs at a temperature varying between 43 and 50° C. There are no services in the area.
Visiting Bagno Vignoni Italia & surroundings
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Those who wish to feast their eyes on unique landscapes, known to connoisseurs of the Val d’Orcia, can continue their holiday for a few days.
Its territory is traversed by the Orcia River, where medieval villages, rock fortresses, abbeys, historic wine cellars and ancient spas can be found.
A longer weekend is an opportunity to visit beautiful villages such as San Quirico d’Orcia with its famous Collegiata dei Santi Quirico e Giulitta and the Horti Leonini, the public gardens (1581).
From San Quirico d’Orcia you can reach Radicofani, a small village that once served as a lookout over the Val d’Orcia due to its famous and imposing Rocca, which dominates from above with its crenellated tower.
A small town on the border with Bagno Vignoni is Ripa d’Orcia, a hamlet of the municipality of Castiglione d’Orcia. It is worth visiting both, one for its castle, the other for its historical centre, its ancient churches and two fortresses, the Rocca Aldobrandesca and the Rocca di Tentennano. A few kilometres from here are the free thermal baths of Bagni San Filippo, a hamlet of Castiglione d’Orcia.
If the itinerary includes a visit to other spa towns, Chianciano Terme not to be missed is with its spas, also famous as an ancient medieval village where you can see religious buildings and museums with ancient and contemporary works, from Guttuso to Munch. In its surroundings, there are natural areas and parks such as Parco Acquasanta, Parco Fucoli and Parco Terme di Sant’Elena.
And why not stop off in Montalcino, a medieval village famous for one of the world’s best wines, Brunello di Montalcino. This red wine is made from Sangiovese Grosso grapes, a variety that only grows in this area and is aged for at least five years before being marketed.
Montepulciano, a small village with a medieval flavour, is also known for its Vino Nobile di Montepulciano wine, one of the most appreciated in Tuscany. Here, it is possible to taste the wine and local specialities in the area’s typical cellars housed in characteristic underground structures dug into the tuff.
20 minutes from Bagno Vignoni you can reach the “ideal city”, with its Renaissance flavour after the urban redevelopment ordered by Pope Pius II in the early 15th century, namely Pienza, a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1996, where you can visit the cathedral and the famous Palazzo Piccolomini, but where you can also taste the traditional Pecorino di Pienza.
Eight kilometres from Montepulciano you can reach Monticchiello, a hamlet of the municipality of Pienza, another small medieval village, surrounded by the cypress trees of the Val d’Orcia. Here you will find ancient walls and gates, parish churches dating back to the 13th century, and Gothic-Romanesque buildings.
Monte Amiata is worth a visit, whatever the season. Many activities can be done in this area, from winter sports to trekking on the hiking trails that wind through the mountain, such as the Mount Amiata Ring and the Via Francigena.
But even for just half a day, it is worth arriving here to admire the variety of landscapes, among woods, meadows and peaks. Around Monte Amiata, then, there are several medieval villages, such as Castel del Piano and Santa Fiora, as well as ancient castles, such as the Castle of Arcidosso and the Castle of Montegiovi.
To the south-east of Siena is the area of the Crete Senesi, a very special and varied territory, to be explored among expanses of clay, hills and small villages.
What to do in Bagno Vignoni?
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In Bagno Vignoni there is something to do for all lovers of walks in nature, including hiking, horseback riding, cycling excursions. And there’s plenty for those who love to eat good things. And Tuscany is renowned for offering such a variety of choices.
A tour of the centre among the artisan shops lets you enter a world of typical and genuine products, from extra virgin olive oil to Tuscan salami, pici, cantucci and vin santo, and much more.
Meanwhile, a small curiosity for book lovers: in Bagno Vignoni, next to the water square, there is a small independent bookstore – “Librorcia” – famous for the titles it displays and for the precious, handcrafted and unobtainable publications of poetry, philosophy and contemporary fiction. It seems that famous people too, such as Christian De Sica and Massimo Cacciari, have passed through here.
Food and wine specialities
In Bagno Vignoni, as in other Tuscan locations, food and wine tasting is among the most intense and popular activities.
The many vineyards, agriturismi and small trattorias offer tasting experiences that let you discover typical foods and wines, including:
- the ribollita
- pici served with aglione sauce
- the Cinta Senese cured meats
- the Pecorino cheese from Pienza
- the Crete Senesi truffle
- Tuscan crostini
- the Florentine steak
- wild boar meat
- cantucci and vin santo
Famous wines to taste include Chianti, Brunello di Montalcino, Nobile di Montepulciano and Orcia DOC wine.
Relax at the thermal baths
In Bagno Vignoni there are thermal baths scattered throughout the area, with a free admission. There are no facilities here, but you can enjoy the water with beneficial properties known since ancient times.
The thermal water, which gushes out from several springs at a depth of 1,000 metres, is rich in minerals that come from underground, flowing into the central pool in the Piazza delle Sorgenti and the thermal baths.
Here are available aerosol, mud and balneotherapy, curative treatments for certain health conditions, such as osteoporosis, rheumatism, arthritis, respiratory problems, etc. Among the thermal complexes in the area, you can access the Terme di Bagno Vignoni, a municipal establishment affiliated with the health service.
Those wishing to take advantage of the treatments and related services, or even stay at the hotel, can consider two thermal establishments:
- Albergo Le Terme, housed in a 15th-century building with indoor pools and a large outdoor pool of thermal water at 37-39° C. Admission costs 38 euro, both day and night (after 19.00).
- Adler Spa Resort Thermae, a private luxury establishment with a large thermal & spa area, 36°C thermal water and treatments. Daily entrance, if indeed covered, should cost around 170 euro, but this includes treatments that are part of a complete package. It is also best to check the site for availability of the day only.
- The Posta Marcucci spa is the third private establishment with annexed accommodation, where one can relax in the thermal pool with a panoramic view of the Rocca di Tentennano.
The daytime cost is 16 euro in the winter period, 20 euro for the full day (10 a.m. to 5 p.m.). Afternoon admission from 14.00 to 17.00, costs 15 euro per person. In the summer period, everything remains the same, except for the full day, from 9.30 a.m. to 6 p.m., with admission costing 27 euro per person.
The entire Val d’Orcia area offers plenty of opportunities for walking, cycling and even horseback riding. Among these, we recommend the walk along the Orcia River or the one along the Via Francigena, in the section connecting San Quirico d’Orcia and Radicofani.
Another route that is very popular with trekking enthusiasts is the Rocca D’Orcia ring, with a route of about 10 km through the nature-artistic park of the Val d’Orcia.
From Bagno Vignoni, you reach Rocca d’Orcia, the small village built around its medieval fortress, descend along the river and return to Bagno Vignoni by walking along the path along the Orcia river.
We also recommend a trip to the Triboli locality, where the famous evergreen cypresses of the Val d’Orcia, which reach 50 metres in height, can be found.
Events in Bagno Vignoni
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flickr, Tania & Artur
Among the events that we like to point out, of you are around Bagno Vignoni:
- “l’Eroica”, a cycling event that has been taking place since 1997, usually on the first Sunday in October, in the province of Siena, with suggestions evoking the cycling of yesteryear, with bicycles and clothing of the past.
- “I Colori del Libro” (The Colours of the Book): a festival usually organised in September, by the municipality of San Quirico d’Orcia with the coordination of the website toscanalibri.it – animated by books and literary encounters Bagno Vignoni, the spa centre of the Val d’Orcia, recognised by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.
- “La Castagnata d’Autunno”, a chestnut festival usually held at the end of October in the municipality of San Quirico d’Orcia.
- “L’Orcia Wine Festival”, at the end of April
- “The Barbarossa Festival”
- “Paesaggi Musicali Toscani”, a classical music festival held in August
- “La Festa dell’Olio” in December.
Other initiatives are reported on this page with a calendar of events month by month.
How to get to Bagno Vignoni
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Bagno Vignoni is easily reached by car.
- From the north, take the A1 motorway to the Firenze/Impruneta exit.
- From the south, take the A1 motorway to the Chiusi/Chianciano Terme exit.
Some towns in the Val d’Orcia do not have a railway station connected to the national network, but are connected to the larger towns by bus.
- Arriving in Siena, you can take the connection to the Buonconvento station, from where buses depart to the Val d’Orcia villages.
- Arriving from Milan to Siena, you have to change at the Florence Santa Maria Novella station.
- Arriving from Roma Termini to Siena, on the other hand, takes three hours with a single change at the Chiusi-Chianciano Terme station. Alternatively, trains also depart from the capital to Grosseto and Florence Santa Maria Novella with the possibility of reaching Siena.
By plane, on the other hand, you will have to reach the airports of Florence, Pisa or Rome, continuing the journey either by rented car, train or bus.
Now that you know what to see in and around Bagno Vignoni, all that remains is to wish you a happy trip to Tuscany! Remember that, with Italia Delight, you can book food & wine experiences and trips directly with the best Italian Food Experts. 😉