The Val d’Orcia and Monte Amiata area of Tuscany is full of beautiful towns like Pienza, Montalcino, Montepulciano (to name but a few), wine but also natural hot springs. The small town of Bagni San Filippo has an amazing hot spring that combines its sulphuric waters to river water.
Depending on the ratio of spring water to river water, you can pick and choose how hot you want your soaking pool to be. It might take some experimentation, but as a rule, the shallower ones are usually hotter. The hot springs’ beautiful white rock formations give a magical blue tinge to the water that deposits there.
How to Get There
There are two ways to get to Bagni San Filippo from Florence, the A1 highway and the more scenic albeit slightly longer Siena-Firenze high-speed road. It takes around two hours to reach Bagni San Filippo from Florence. I wouldn’t recommend driving that far for a soak in the river. Instead, maximize your time by organizing a three-day weekend in the Val d’Orcia region. Either travelling option will take you to Strada Provinciale 61.
Follow it until you see a sign for Bagni San Filippo and then turn left down a one-way road called Via Fosso Bianco that winds down to the village and the entrance of the natural hot springs. The road is quite shady and on a busy summer day, you might already find cars lining it from top to bottom. The first parking spots at the top and the ones closest to the entrance are all blue (paid parking), but if you continue through the town and go further down, you’ll find some white spaces which are free of charge.
The town itself has little to offer in terms of shops and eateries so I strongly recommend getting organized ahead of time and bringing a picnic. Once you are by the riverside, you don’t really want to trek back to town anyway. Halfway through the village, you will see a brown sign that reads Fosso Bianco. Follow the arrow towards the entrance of the park. You will find three picnic tables on the right of the entrance should you feel like eating more comfortably, but they are snatched up pretty fast around lunchtime.
The first bathing pool, which is the perfect place for artisanal mud treatments, is close to the entrance but quite the thoroughfare since everyone crosses the river there. Once you’ve reached the opposite bank via the bridge, follow the footpath downhill. The famous Balena Bianca, a white rock formation in the shape of a whale, is about a ten-minute walk down.
The path isn’t even and not very accessible for people who have difficulty walking though I did find a woman with a walker bathing in the first pool at the entrance. The White Whale is quite a sought-after spot, so you might want to get there early if you want to bathe or picnic near there.
There are some nice shady areas by the side of the river but you have to wade back across the river or jump over some rocks!
When to Go
The place gets very crowded in Summer with people looking for some river freshness rather than sulphuric thermal water. The river is quite shallow and finding deep pools to bathe in isn’t that easy. Try to avoid going during the weekend if you can because you get the locals as well as the tourists! Autumn and Spring are definitely the best time to go if you want to enjoy the place without all the crowds. There are no changing facilities or showers, so keep that in mind when you cover yourself in mineral-rich mud. If you want to enjoy the benefits of the thermal waters without relinquishing your creature comforts, head down the road to the Bagni San Filippo spa.
Bagni San Filippo is worth the detour if you are looking for a bit of wilderness after visiting all the beautiful medieval towns in the area (and they are many!). There is another town nearby with thermal waters you might also be interested in visiting, Bagno Vignoni. But if you are after the wild hot spring experience, Bagni San Filippo has much more shade in Summer!