In my never-ending search for hidden gems off the beaten path I came across Albergo Le Terme (www.albergoleterme.it), a beautiful family-run resort in Bagno Vignoni, Tuscany. We spent 2 unforgettable days here during our last trip to Tuscany in November.
Bagno Vignoni is a picture-perfect medieval Italian village situated on a hill above a gorgeous valley – Val d’Orcia – in Tuscany (see map below, I marked Bagno Vignoni with a heart).
Albergo Le Terme itself is a small resort (run by the same family since 1977) in the heart of the village comprised of a hotel, restaurant, cafe and a spa. It is a historic place amid the ancient hot springs: the hotel building is a XV century summer lodgings of Pope Pius II!
(In Italian, “Albergo” means “hotel” and “Le Terme” means baths. Hotel at the baths!)
While Bagno Vignoni hamlet isn’t completely a “hidden” gem, it’s definitely off the beaten path, i.e. you won’t encounter big crowds or busloads of tourists. Travelers who come here appear to be seekers of peace and quiet, spectacular nature, health and history: my kind of people!
ALBERGO LE TERME: THE FAMILY, THE BUILDING & GROUNDS
While staying at Albergo Le Terme, Nick and I met all 3 generations of the Banchetti family that has been running the place since 1977 (I took pictures with Laura and Chiara, see gallery below). They made us feel like a part of the family. Nick and I loved every minute of our 2 night stay here.
Click on the 1st photo and then next:
Our room (#221) was located in the original medieval building which faces the “Square of sources” – the XVI cent. rectangular pool of thermal spring water. This very same water is used in the resort’s spa and it comes from the subterranean aquifer of volcanic origins at a temperature of 49°C/120F (which I assume is then somewhat cooled down because the pool water we experienced wasn’t that hot). Right next to the pool you can also see the medieval church of San Giovanni Battista (John the Baptist).
I couldn’t get enough of the view. The sunsets and the mornings were especially beautiful.
Fun note: I learned that a very famous Russian film director, Andrei Tarkovsky, stayed in the very same room while filming his film Nostalgia in the early 1980s! So here we were, in Pope Pius II’s building and Andrei Tarkovsky’s room. I thought it was pretty awesome! 🙂
Click on the first photo & then next:
THE FOOD: Ristorante Enoteca La Terrazza
Everything here was amazing. We loved it so much we ended up having 2 dinners and lunch here (breakfasts too, of course, they’re included in your stay). Food is prepared with great care, is mostly locally-sourced and predominantly organically-grown. The bread and pasta are hand-made in house. Just the way it should be! And I have to mention once again: prices at places like this are usually lower than in an average restaurant in America. Italians truly care about their food, and don’t try to gouge you just because the food is high quality. Excuse the somewhat blurry photo, but what the owners state below makes me so happy!
The wine of this region – the famous Brunello di Montalcino – is quite fabulous. But being 4 months pregnant I couldn’t partake aside from tasting about a teaspoon of each glass and smelling (a LOT of wine smelling!) 🙂 Of course, I took my usual artsy photos. Click on the first photo & then go next
THE NATURAL HOT SPRINGS AND SPA
Traveling in my 2nd trimester didn’t hinder our trip too much. Aside from occasionally being a bit nauseous and feeling more tired than usual, I was totally okay and we could proceed as normal – aside from wine-drinking and soaking in the hot springs. Raising your body temperature above 99F can be quite dangerous for the developing fetus, so I decided to be an extra cautious mama-to-be and spent only a couple of minutes in the natural hot springs pool (the pool closest to me in the first photo) and then cooled down in the “regular pool. But then Nick & I both had fabulous massages (such a treat after long flights/travel days), my massage being a prenatal one (soooooo relaxing!).
Here are a few photos from our spa experience, click on the first and then go next:
BAGNO VIGNONI – THE VILLAGE
The ancient village of Bagno Vignoni’s healing thermal waters have been used since Roman & Etruscan times. According to Wikipedia, despite numerous incidents of war, devastation and fires that involved the Val d’Orcia in the Middle Ages, the original structures of the village remain essentially unchanged. Our late night walks – surrounded by the post-rain fog and vapor rising from the hot springs – had quite a mystical feel to them. And in the mornings we’d walk over (just 1 minute walk) to the edge of the village where you can see the rust-colored ruins of the original hot springs waterways and a spectacular view of the Tuscan valley below.
Thank you for reading!! And while our stay, food and spa experiences were complimentary, all views and photos are entirely my own. I stand by every word – as always. I loved Albergo le Terme and I highly recommend visiting if you get a chance!
Any comments and thoughts? What did I miss?
Also.. if you find any typos, please let me know. I am obsessed with proper grammar and spelling but…. I type too damn fast and sometimes simply space out:)