Last updated on September 29th, 2023
Are you planning on a soak in Italy’s most famous hot springs? I don’t blame you! The Cascate del Mulino di Saturnia are gorgeous – the staggered and layered turquoise pools are worthy of the press and thousands of photos taken of them.
But – don’t expect to just show up and have an amazing time. Read through my quick list below for nine important tips to help you have a smooth and memorable visit to the Saturnia hot springs.
I first visited in 2004 while working as a cycling guide, and my most recent trip back was with my husband for a romantic staycation in Tuscany. I love visiting Saturnia’s hot springs and with these tips, I’m sure you will too!
Andiamo – let’s go!
Table of Contents
Avoid the Busiest Times
First, not to burst your bubble, but the Cascate del Mulino are almost never empty like you see in Instagram and travel magazine photos. Those photos are either photo-shopped or taken at sunrise (when you may be alone, or with 20 other hopeful photographers).
The hot springs are open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
The peak season for the Cascate del Mulino is from May to November.
The hot springs are also usually busier on weekends, when day tripping Italians visit.
Planning on visiting at night? You’ll find more crowds on nights with a full moon.
If you can, visit during the week and during the winter or early spring.
However, if you can’t avoid these busy times, you can still enjoy your visit as long as you visit with the expectation that it will be crowded (and you’ll be sharing pools, waiting in lines for showers, etc).
Don’t Park on the Street in Front of the Hot Springs
It’s tempting to park on the 100 meters of small road right in front of the hot springs. There are ‘no parking’ and ‘do not enter’ signs and the local police does give out fines. Still, you’ll find the road full of parked cars.
If you don’t want to risk a fine (or take a place from someone who is authorized to park there, like someone with a handicap permit), park in the designated lot(s).
The parking lot changes sometimes, but at the time of writing, it was 1.2 kilometers from the hot springs. It’s a large paid lot (5€/day) and you can walk on a small road and then a sidewalk to reach the hot springs. If you have small kids or non-walkers in your group, you can drop people off close to the hot springs and then park and walk to them.
Don’t stress about finding the parking lot. Look for signs or ask someone.
Don’t Leave Your Valuables Unlocked
Don’t let a thief ruin your vacation.
Never leave your valuables unlocked – in your car or on the dirt next to the springs.
Use the lockers at the café next to the hot springs or don’t bring your valuables with you – leave your jewelry and your wallet in your hotel’s safe.
Take Advantage of the Facilities at Saturnia
Saturnia’s Cascate del Mulino hot springs have:
- Lockers (5€ deposit + 5€ for a small locker, 7€ for a large locker)
- Café with snacks, drinks, and outdoor seating
- Water refills (paid)
- Showers (1€ for 2 minutes)
- Diaper changing tables
Not many free hot springs offer these services. Yes, you must pay for some of them, but they help make the experience smoother and more relaxing.
They’re all located just steps from the hot springs in the same building.
But Come Prepared for a Soak at Saturnia
Although there are facilities at the Cascate del Mulino, can’t show up empty-handed. Some ideas for your packing list:
- Towel for drying off
- Towel or light scarf or blanket to sit on while you’re not in the hot springs
- Sunhat and/or sunglasses
- Plastic bags (more below)
- Water shoes
- Your favorite snacks (I like to pack fresh fruit)
- Small coins and bills for the café, lockers, and showers (you get tokens at the café)
Bring Plastic Bags
Nothing dampens the post-soak bliss like a wet suit that smells like rotten eggs. Hide your sulphur-soaked suit in a plastic bag until you can wash it properly.
I also like to have a plastic bag (even one of the reusable grocery bags) to hold wet towels.
Helpful Tip: Bring small Ziploc-style bags for anything else you don’t want to get wet (like your car key). It’s best to bring them from your home country as it’s difficult to find them here. And think about purchasing a waterproof pouch for your phone.
Good To Know: There are garbage bins at the hot springs.
Explore the Countryside and Nearby Villages
The Cascate del Mulino are gorgeous and worth the drive into the Tuscan countryside. It’s a long drive from most major tourist destinations like Florence (195 kilometers, 3 hours) and Rome (150 kilometers, 2 hour and 15 minutes).
So, make the most of your journey and explore the countryside around Saturnia:
- Drive some of the most beautiful roads in Southern Tuscany and stop to photograph the landscape; check out the sheep; stop in at a caseificio (cheese factory / farm)
- Montemerano – a tiny, charming Tuscan village with one of Italy’s most beautiful piazzas. Read our quick guide to Montemerano.
- Pitigliano – explore the town perched dramatically on a tufa wall
- Scansano – sample the area’s Morellino di Scansano red wines
- Giardino dei Tarocchi – a unique, Gaudi-esque outdoor park near Capalbio. Read our quick guide to the Giardino dei Tarocchi (+2 Mistakes We Made).
Don’t feel like driving? Look into exploring Tuscany Without a Car.
Look Elsewhere for Tranquil Hot Springs
You’ve likely seen the photos of Saturnia from above when it’s empty or there’s just one person posing on the edge of the springs. Gorgeous – yes. Realistic – no.
Saturnia is far from undiscovered, so you’ll find a lot of people here throughout the year, especially in the springs’ busy season from May to November. The area around the springs gets packed with towels, shoes, clothing, and people, and there’s a constant chatter in the springs.
Luckily, there are other Tuscan hot springs you can try! While they all can get busy, none are as popular (on the international level) as Saturnia’s hot springs. Our favorite Tuscan hot springs (along with Saturnia) are:
- Bagno Vignoni
- Bagni San Filippo
- San Casciano dei Bagni
- Bagni di Petriolo
- Rapolano Terme
- Chianciano Terme
Read more about the Best Hot Springs in Tuscany
Good To Know: You can see Saturnia’s Cascate del Mulino without crowds – at the crack of dawn! If you want to see the springs with just a few people, rise early and get to the hot springs for sunrise. You may even be the only one there, especially during the off-season!
Think About Visiting Saturnia’s Thermal Baths
If you get to the Cascate del Mulino and it’s too busy, you can also head 2 kilometers up the road (toward the village of Saturnia) to visit the Terme di Saturnia, the paid public thermal baths.
There’s a daily entrance fee and you must rent a robe and slippers (or bring your own).
Visit the Terme di Saturnia – Parco Termale official website for prices and opening times.
Good To Know: Traveling with children? The Terme di Saturnia has two dedicated children’s pools and there are lifeguards.
Good To Know: The Terme di Saturnia can also get busy, especially on weekends and during the summer.
Have a visita meravigliosa – a marvellous visit – to the Saturnia hot springs!