A trip to Petriolo, the bulwark of the fortified free spa
Starting from Siena and driving south along the Highway 223 for about 30 km you will arrive in the lush natural reserve of the Basso Merse, on the border with the province of Grosseto. Here lies a real treat for lovers of well-being and nature: Petriolo, a rare example of fortified spa, whose impressive ruins are the background to the natural pools still very popular today. This is not the only peculiarity of Petriolo, since it is one of the few spa contexts still partially free. In short, the reasons for a visit to this peculiar destination are not few and can certainly enrich the program of a holiday in Siena dedicated to culture and art, but also to nature and well-being. Between medieval ruins overlooking the water and natural pools with different temperatures, Petriolo is really a one-of-a-kind place.
Yesterday, today and tomorrow at the free spa of Petriolo
The place that, in the thirteenth century, became the thermal baths of Petriolo were known with other names also in Roman times, as they are quoted by Cicero and Martial. The golden age of this area, however, corresponds to the fifteenth century, when the fortified medieval structures were erected on the banks of the stream Farma. The Petriolo thermal baths have been visited by some of the most powerful figures of the Renaissance, such as the lords of Pesaro and the Gonzaga, the Neapolitan clergy and even the famous Frederick III of Montefeltro, Duke of Urbino, and Pope Pius II. The oldest remains are right next to a structure built during the sixties and not used anymore, and are now a backdrop to the cluster of natural pools of the free thermal baths of Petriolo, different in size and water temperature: the hotter, upstream, reaches 47°C and has the evocative name of Hell Well, while the other pools go up to the 30°C of the fifth and final pool, the downstream one, right before a refreshing dip in the cooling waters of the Farma.
For some extra pampering
The beauty of the free thermal baths of Petriolo lies in their wild -so to speak- simplicity: the context can definitely win the hearts of the the true lovers of nature, with few services but with abundance of lush fauna. Here, the thermal waters are the real and only protagonists, but Petriolo does disappoint even those who feel the need to combine the baths with more targeted treatments, either medical or aesthetic. In fact, besides the free thermal baths, a small number of private structures were opened nearby, in order to combine the virtues of the hot springs with an offer of services that has nothing to envy to the most modern health centers. The one called Bagni di Petriolo, for example, is located right next to the free part of the baths and offers several treatments, with the affilition of the National Health Service, as well as interesting packets that combine thermal baths, mud baths and massages: not a bad option for a relaxing break from the discovery of the rich historical and artistic heritage of Siena. And while the hot springs are good for the skin, the respiratory tract and joints, the view you get from the rooftop pool of the Bagni di Petriolo is a miraculous cure-all for the soul, one of the most beautiful postcards to take along as a souvenir of Siena and its surroundings.