Bagno Vignoni is another historic stop on the ancient Via Francigena, the pilgrims route to Rome. Famous for its wonderful thermal baths which have been in use since Roman times this small town is just a half hour drive from Montisi. It makes a lovely half day outing or a full day if combined with nearby San Quirico d’Orcia.
The central square in Bagno Vignoni is the main source of the thermal spring. In the sixteenth century a huge tank was built to collect the water and this warm pool with its surrounding baths became the vacation destination of such famous ancient Italians such as St Catherine of Siena, Pope Pius II and Lorenzo the Magnificent.
You can still enjoy the thermal baths either by paddling in the channels just outside the main street or by visiting one of the hotels as a day guest. You can’t bathe in the main pool itself but the pools below the town in the Parco dei Mulini are free. It will be a bit chilly in winter though! Don’t bring your best swimsuit as you will no doubt want to partake of the healing powers of the clay baths. Otherwise you can just sit by this fantastic ‘alternative’ square, unchanged in centuries and soak up the atmosphere with a coffee or a glass of wine.
There are pretty buildings to see too, many filled with little shops selling souvenirs, clothes and food from the local area. Look out too from the old mill walls towards Rocca d’Orcia, an ancient fortress that still stands guard over the valley below. This beautifully preserved tower is worth the climb.
If you time your visit in the cooler months often this gorgeous square is bathed in mist as the hot air from the pools rises – another wonderful photo opportunity in the glorious area of Southern Tuscany.