italian hills

On The Road To Luxury And Relaxation In Tuscany

17 July 2017
Read Time: 5.3 mins

Roman soldiers were some of the first to discover the benefits of bathing in thermal springs but you don’t need to be a battle weary warrior to appreciate Tuscany’s spa country. With a focus on food, wine, scenery and soaking in the area’s natural thermal spas, this journey from Rome to Florence includes Saturnia, widely regarded as one of the best spots in Italy to ‘take the waters’, the charming hill towns of Pitigliano and San Gimignano, and the rich artistic heritage of Siena. 

Location: Tuscany

Distance: 435 kilometres

Highlights:

  • Explore the mighty Colosseum and picturesque cobblestone back streets of Rome
  • Sip rare vintages from the cellars deep under the town of Pitigliano, a Tuscan town renowned for its wine and specialty dishes such as wild boar and truffles
  • Soak in natural hot springs as you gaze over the Tuscan hills in Saturnia
  • Experience San Gimignano, one of Tuscany’s most famous hilltop towns
  • Revel in the art and culture of the Renaissance in Florence

Day 1, 2 & 3 Rome

colosseum rome sunrise How do you experience as much as you can while in Rome? Get an early start! Image: Getty

You have three days to experience the art, history, culture and vibrant atmosphere that make the Italian capital one of the world’s most exciting cities. Check in at your hotel and begin your stay with a walking tour or bus tour to get your bearings. To do Rome justice, you need to slip on comfortable shoes and hit the streets where you will find stunning ancient ruins at every turn. Of course, there are must-sees such as the Colosseum, the Roman Forum and the Vatican, but you should also allow time to discover the heart of Rome. Sip espresso at an outdoor cafe, wander down winding back streets and join the locals one evening for the passeggiata, a gentle evening stroll as the sun goes down. 

Day 4 & 5 Rome to Pitigliano

Pitigliano Italy walled city The majestic city on the rock, Pitigliano. Image: Tiana Templeman

Today begins with an easy 160 kilometre drive from Rome to Pitigliano, a classic Tuscan hill town filled with cobblestone squares, ancient wine cellars and rustic restaurants serving house made pasta and delicious local vino. Stroll around town and sample the local specialties then drive 20 kilometres to Saturnia, a picturesque valley famous for the relaxing healing powers of its natural hot springs. 

saturnia italy waterfall Legend has it that Saturnia’s springs were born where Jupiter’s thunderbolt fell in a battle against Saturn. Image: Getty

This is the spa capital of Italy yet, perhaps surprisingly, the region receives few international visitors. Join the locals in one of the free hot springs dotting the countryside then check in at one of the region’s spa hotels such as Terme di Saturnia Spa & Golf Resort, a luxe accommodation option with its own Etruscan era natural spring. In addition to providing accommodation, many spa hotels in this region offer day passes for around €20 per day. This part of Tuscany is also one of Italy’s oldest and most respected wine regions with impressive wines available from just €5 a bottle.  

Day 6 Pitigliano to Siena

siena italy gothic cathedral Siena’s beautiful Gothic Cathedral is filled with treasures by Pisano, Donatello and Michaelangelo. Image: Getty

Picturesque roads take you 120 kilometres through the rolling hills of Tuscany to Siena, a town so artistically significant that the entire city is listed as a UNESCO site. Visiting Siena is like walking through a living art gallery and museum. Soak up the atmosphere at Piazza del Campo, one of the world’s biggest medieval squares, then head to the nearby Duomo, a gothic cathedral filled with breathtaking frescoes. Don’t forget to look up, down and around as there are stunning works everywhere, including on the floor.

Day 7, 8 & 9 Siena to Florence

san gimignano italy Breathtaking medieval hilltop town San Gimignano is encircled by 13th century walls. Image: Getty

Today is an easy 70-kilometre drive to Florence so relax and take your time. On your way to the cultural heart of Tuscany, drop into San Gimignano, one of Tuscany’s best known hill towns with 12 medieval towers encircled by ancient Roman walls. Join a city tour which takes in the towers and work up an appetite for yet more fabulous Italian food. 

florence church italy Filippo Brunelleschi masterminded the biggest dome the world had ever engineered, forever changing the history of architecture. Image: Tiana Templeman

On arrival in Florence, return your hire car and check into a centrally located hotel as this city is best explored on foot. You have 48 hours to revel in the artistic beauty of this classic city, from the statue of David at the Accademia Gallery Museum to the Battistero di San Giovanni, the Romanesque-style church in the centre of Florence, and the Uffizi Gallery filled with breathtaking Renaissance art, before your flight back to Australia. 

Luxury Stays

Terme di Saturnia Spa & Golf Resort

An elegant hotel, with 128 beautiful rooms all designed to create a feeling of harmony. The spa is one of the most award-winning in the world, and the hot spring park includes four hot-spring pools, waterfalls, Jacuzzis and water courses of warm and cold water. Water from the thermal spring sits at a constant temperature of 37 degrees Celsius, which means you can enjoy the benefits of this therapeutic water all year round.

Hotel Brunelleschi, Florence

A 4-star boutique hotel right in the heart of Florence, Hotel Brunelleschi not only offers luxurious rooms and outstanding service, it gives you the very rare and covetable opportunity to walk to the city centre on foot. Enjoy an authentic Italian experience staying in this charming hotel, then stroll out into the city and enjoy the best of Florence.

Boscolo Exedra, Rome

The result of extraordinary attention to detail in the refurbishment of a sumptuous, late 18th Century building, the Boscolo Exedra Roma is Rome’s first 5-stary luxury hotel. With panoramic terrace views over Rome, an exclusive spa and a refined and discreet atmosphere, the Boscolo Exedra is a decadent haven for guests staying in this vibrant city.

Tiana Templeman

Tiana Templeman is a Brisbane-based freelance food and travel journalist who is often out-of-town but always on-line. She writes travel blogs, presents a weekly travel segment on Radio 4BC and contributes to numerous Australian and international media outlets. Find Tiana on Google+, Twitter (@TianaTempleman), Facebook, and Instagram (tianatempleman).

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