San Quirico d’Orcia is the heart of Italy’s most thermal province, that of Siena. Bagno Vignoni is its jewel, a place where spas, history and wellness have coexisted since ancient times.
Its symbol is the thermal pool from which flows the natural spring of thermal water that, after traveling a distance underground, re-emerges in the gorelli of the Parco dei Mulini before flowing into the gora, the collecting pool below the cliff overlooking the Val d’Orcia.
Place for famous people, travelers and filmmakers
In the Middle Ages, Bagno Vignoni enjoyed great fame, and famous people came to be cured by its waters. St. Catherine stayed there between 1362 and 1367, and the loggia and chapel in front of the pool are dedicated to her. Lorenzo the Magnificent also passed the waters here, as did Pope Pius II Piccolomini while Grand Tour travelers wrote about it, frequently, in their notebooks. The suggestion of the vapors and fumes from its waters were the inspiration for the scene of the masterpiece-like film that Andrei Tarkosvsky shot here in the late 1970s entitled Nostalghia.
The presence of the hot spring, which guaranteed an abundant and perennial flow of water, and the proximity to the Via Francigena, made Bagno Vignoni an important milling center. Witness the Roman baths and the Parco dei Mulini, which dominate the Val d’Orcia.
“O Naiads who inhabit these warm vapors releasing perennial fire among the waves restoring with your eternal flow the suffering free from hateful death, I greet you, and you bestow copious waters. Flow graceful O good springs and bring to the sick with your flowing health and to the saints a most sweet bath. Both will be grateful to you,” reads the inscription in ancient Greek, carved in the 16th century on a column in the loggia of St. Catherine’s, opposite the chapel.