Montalcino

Bagno Vignoni, the bath amongst the vines…

From the department of “not just great wine in Montalcino”…

best hot springs italy

Bagno Vignoni, one of Montalcino’s treasures, a hilltop hot spring and village that look out over the Orcia River Valley.

It’s believed that the name means the bath in the vineyards, from bagno, meaning bath, and vigna, meaning vine or vineyard (vignoni is an apparent augmentative form of vigna; the ending in -i would suggest that the name is modeled after the Latin genitive case denoting the possessive; so literally, one way to interpret the name is bath of the large vineyards).

Since the 1400s and most likely even before that, the restorative and health-enhancing properties of the hot springs have been a major attraction for travelers around these parts.

The village, which is about 30 minutes south of Montalcino and the Fattoria dei Barbi by car on the south side of Montalcino township, sits along the ancient Via Cassia, a Roman-era trade route that connects the capital and Siena and Siena province (today it is known as Strada Statale 2 or State Highway 2).

Saint Catherine of Siena (1347-1380) supposedly enjoyed “taking the waters” there and it’s like that the main square bath (in the photo above) looked very much the same in her time because the bath and the surrounding building were first built in the 1300s.

In the 1960s and 70s, Bagno Vignoni was a regular destination for Italy’s glitterati and many celebrities, including actors and filmmakers, vacationed there.

Because of its popularity as a tourist destination, there are a couple of different dining options and even an American-style bar where locals and visitors gather for “long drinks” in the evening. There are a number of lodging options as well, including a hotel that overlooks the river valley — a spectacular view.

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