Italians on Italians
Beyond Toscano

The Tuscan Roman spas – heroes of R&R

An important part of a healthy, balanced lifestyle, rest and relaxation takes many forms these days. But arguably, it was even more important in ancient times, where conflict was more than just an inconvenience in the office, it was often a matter of life and death. So to help unwind, and keep a level head, the Romans invented spas – helped in part by Mother Nature who blessed some parts of Italy with naturally heated thermal pools. Not just a place to bathe, Roman spas were social places to meet and discuss matters of great importance, matters of business, trivial matters and matters of the heart.
Some of the best-known spas in Italy are in Tuscany. Legend has it that Saturn, Roman God of seed and growth, was so frustrated by conflicts in the region that he cast a powerful lightning storm that caused water to burst from the ground in places. Heated by volcanoes beneath the surface, it calmed the population and restored peace.
This legend is often told at Maremma, home of two sulphurous natural spas, the most powerful of which has water flowing from beneath the ground at up to 500 liters a second and 37 degrees centigrade. With the Tuscan countryside as a backdrop, the cascading waters and invigorating steam of Maremma’s spas have brought pleasure to locals and visitors to the region for hundreds of years.
The perceived magical properties of the water even led to it being bottled and sold to tourists in pharmacies and hotels – one of the original mineral waters.