In the heart of the Maremma, along the Via Clodia, among charming
scenery and archaeological finds, is Saturnia, noted throughout the world
for its thermal waters. In fact, near the town, the copious sulphuric
water (800 litres a second) gush out at 37° and give spontaneous
life to a suggestive waterfall which forms a series of natural pools,
carved in the rock, in which, each year, thousands of people bathe; the
same water has for ten years also served the efficient thermal plant in
which, thanks to the water’s properties, certain illnesses are cured.
The legend regarding the birth of Saturnia tells that the god Saturno,
angry with the people who were always at war with each other, sent a thunderbolt
to earth, giving life to a magic spring of warm sulphur water which would
It is also said that Saturnia is the oldest city in the peninsula, dedicated
to the god Saturno, it is however certain that the present day town was
built on an enormous mass of Travertino stone, at the place of the ancient
settlement which goes back to, at least, the XII century B.C.
Etruscans and Romans, who successively dominated it, loved it and, each
in their own time, took advantage of the thermal waters. In 1300 Saturnia,
became the hideout of exiles and was razed to the ground by Siena.
During the Medieval period many legends grew up around Saturnia on account
of the dense smoke in the countryside, where the steam rose from the springs’
heat, making one think of the underworld. In fact it was said that the
devil came out from there and that sabbatical rites and meetings of witches
and wizards took place there.
Of the waters, it was said that they were bewitched, both on account of
their heat and for the acute “satanic” odour which emanated
Forgotten for several centuries, Saturnia was rediscovered in the second
half of the 1800s when Bernardino Ciacci arranged to have the
land around the spring drained and a thermal establishment built.
Saturnia today is a town which, whilst maintaining its historic aspect,
has given life to a very active thermal tourism, thanks both to the thermal
complex (www.termedisatrunia.it) which every year receives thousands of
visitors, and the many tourist structures which have developed around
Picture by Sandro Santioli