Salus per aquam ‘health through water’ brings us to the latest of our features on interesting places in Tuscany.
If there ever was a Tuscan town that bypassed the typical crowds and maintained a peaceful sort of existence in the beautiful UNESCO Val D’Orcia valley, it is Bagno Vignoni. Part of the frazione of San Quirico d’Orcia, it has attracted travelers of the more ‘pilgrim’ variety along the ‘via francigena’ route to Rome since Etruscan and Roman times, due to the popular hot springs that hail from the volcanic origins of the Monte Amiata nearby.
It remains a personal favorite spot for us, in both winter and summer because of the sheer natural beauty of the area and peaceful atmosphere. You can stroll through the enchanting cobblestone streets without having to push through tour groups. Plus, it is well worth a visit in conjunction with other adventures in the Val d’Orcia (Pienza, Montepulciano, Montalcino).
The iconic spot stems from the huge 16th century basin in the middle of the town dubbed “Square of sources”, with sulfurous water steaming from a central fountain. This town became so popular it even had a few famous guests, including Pope Pius II, Lorenzo the Magnificent, and Catherine of Siena. While it is no longer possible to swim here, there are several spa options around here at different price options. The water is good for a variety of ailments, our top pick is Piscina Val di Sole which is affordable if simple. Otherwise if you are looking for a luxurious solution, try and get a day pass at the Adler Spa, a five star hotel with different thermal pools and a Dead Sea salt grotto.
Also make sure to check out the Parco dei Mulini below the village, just follow the series of canals to the pools below (which are quite cold at that point). There are some decent walking paths (somewhat steep) and the Chapel of Saint Catherine. We also liked browsing through a local bookshop that also sells small gifts, Librorcia Bagno Vignoni.
You won’t find touristy restaurants here, only typical trattorias serving up local cuisine and some of the famous regional wine, Nobile di Montepulciano, and the Rosso Orcia. We also recommend sampling the sheep cheese from neighboring Pienza, along with a little local honey of course!
How to get there
From Vicchio, it’s a two hour and twenty minute drive, and only an hour and a half from the city of Florence.
Where to eat
We like the local menu at Hotel Le Terme, which is located adjacent to the terme with it’s own wellness spa under the hotel. Other restaurants include La Bottega Di Cacio and La Terrazza.
At Villa Campestri Olive Oil Resort, it’s apple harvesting season so we put our heads together to share one of our favorite personal recipes for a delicious apple pie. (more…)
Florence, Italy — cradle of the Renaissance and popular travel destination the world over. From Villa Campestri Olive Oil Resort, it is an easy 40 minute train ride or by car. So many people have a special connection with one of our favorite Tuscan towns and visit multiple times in their lifetime. After seeing some of the most iconic artworks in the world, including Botticelli’s breathtaking ‘Primavera’ or Michelangelo’s David, what else is there left to see? The answer is, plenty! There is such a wealth of culture brimming in Firenze with hidden spots that most tourists fail to recognize. Here are three suggestions for lesser-known places to visit that I am absolutely certain that anyone would appreciate. Whether you go with a guide, or on your own, mark these for your calendar in 2016.
1. Museum of the Misericordia of Florence
On January 20th, the acclaimed museum of the Misericordia of Florence is set to reopen on feast day of San Sebastian, their patron saint in piazza del duomo. Otherwise known as the Venerabile Arciconfraternita della Misericordia di Firenze, the oldest charitable institution in the world was established here in Florence in 1244 by the Dominican friar San Peter the Martyr as a branch of the Society of Faith. Their activities included dowries to young girls to be married, helping the poor bury their dead, management of the sick during the plague period, the spirit has lasted until today with the association offering a network of free services for people in need.
After two-year restoration the museum, located on the 4th floor of the Misericordia, covers an area of 600 sq. metres and 14 halls of artifacts, paintings, furniture, and documents noting this association’s heroic past. Notable painting include “The Madonna and Child with little St. John” by Giovanni Antonio di Francesco Sogliano and “Saints Tobia and Sebastiano” by Santi di Tito and a glazed terracotta composition by Luca Della Robbia.
Piazza del Duomo, 19/20
Phone: +39 055 239393
Fax:: +39 055 292052
On the Northern hills of Florence exists a spectacular museum hosting containing over 36,000 artifacts, including a vast collection of armour from Eastern and Western civilizations donated by a man named Frederick Stibbert in the 19th century. He dedicated his life to collecting artifacts and valuables that were later donated to the city of Florence. The incredible armory on display is worth the visit alone, with European and Middle Eastern pieces dating from the 15th to the 17th centuries. Also notable are the incredible tapestries, furniture, porcelains, Tuscan crucifixes, Etruscan artifacts, and an outfit worn by Napoleon I of France. There is also a vast park next to the museum, perfect for an after-visit picnic and resting point.
Address: Via Federigo Stibbert 26, Firenze
Hours: Open · 10AM–6PM
Province: Province of Florence
Phone: 055 486049
3. Museum of Natural History – La Specola.
Yet another museum that so many people aren’t even aware exists, the museum itself dates back to the 1700’s and showcases an array of odd species (over 5,000) and an interesting collection of wax human models. We recommend combining this with a visit to the Boboli gardens or Pitti Palace which is technically part of the same complex. There are 34 rooms in total: 24 are dedicated to zoology and 10 to anatomic waxes. Also make sure to have a look at the Tribune of Galileo, which was designed and built in 1841 by the architect Giuseppe Martelli.
Address: Via Romana, 17, 50125 Firenze
Province: Province of Florence
Phone: 055 205 5930
2016 is upon us and as we sit at home eating leftover panettone cake and filling our azienda with work appointments, the thought of what this year has to bring fills ours busy mornings. Each year at Villa Campestri Olive Oil Resort, we seek to bring about a more unique, hands-on approach to travel in Tuscany. Helping our guests to see what we see, and get them involved in our everyday life. From making fresh pasta, to learning the art of beekeeping or painting the majestic hills of the Mugello valley where we are located.
Our reopening is this March, and we hope to see you at our resort for an experience you will never forget. (more…)
Salus per aquam ‘health through water’ brings us to the latest of our features on interesting places in Tuscany. If there ever was a Tuscan town that bypassed the typical crowds and maintained a peaceful sort of existence in the beautiful UNESCO Val D’Orcia valley, it is Bagno Vignoni. Part of the frazione of San Quirico […]
At Villa Campestri Olive Oil Resort, it’s apple harvesting season so we put our heads together to share one of our favorite personal recipes for a delicious apple pie.
Florence, Italy — cradle of the Renaissance and popular travel destination the world over. From Villa Campestri Olive Oil Resort, it is an easy 40 minute train ride or by car. So many people have a special connection with one of our favorite Tuscan towns and visit multiple times in their lifetime. After seeing […]
2016 is upon us and as we sit at home eating leftover panettone cake and filling our azienda with work appointments, the thought of what this year has to bring fills ours busy mornings. Each year at Villa Campestri Olive Oil Resort, we seek to bring about a more unique, hands-on approach to travel in […]
Since the ancient time of the Romans, Italians have often sought out the healing powers of ‘spa-like’ thermal springs, pilgrims on the historic ‘via francigena’ often stopped at popular points like Bagno Vignoni to dip their feet in the therapeutic waters. It really hasn’t changed much in the 21st century, spas are still extremely popular […]
While we think that all of Tuscany is pretty marvelous, the castles and villas that pepper the beautiful landscape lend to the magical appeal of Italy and tell a deeper story of Italian history for the intrepid traveler. There are a number of charming small towns all over the region, but today we are focusing […]
Christmas time in Italy always revolves around what is on the dinner table, and depending on the region, the traditional dishes can vary, from the feast of the seven fishes to the roasted meats of Tuscany. The sweet ending with pandoro or panettone, and panforte and cavallucci cookies from Siena. At our dinner table, we […]
There is certainly no shortage of beautiful hill-top towns that pepper the Tuscan countryside. From sea, to mountains, there is something for everyone here and we are so proud to be from such a fruitful and wonderful corner of Italy. Since we like to feature particular places around our ‘bella toscana’ one highly recommended spot […]