This review of Terme di Chianciano spa in Tuscany, Italy is part of the series 100 Baths, my search for the world’s best spas and public bathing rituals. Read more and see the list here!
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Before my first trip to Italy, I Googled “hot springs in Tuscany” so I could plan my trip around visiting the country’s famous thermal waters. Now, I don’t speak Italian, but when I landed on a site advertising “bagni di notte” I had a pretty good idea what it meant: night bathing.
Through the power of an on-line translator I also figured out that this was a spa located on a natural hot spring just minutes from where we’d be staying at in Chianciano Terme, and that the night bathing events came with live music, food and wine. Fantastico!
Chianciano, Terme: a spa lovers’ secret
Chianciano Terme is a small town in Tuscany built around the natural Silene Spring. It’s a bit sleepy now, as if its glory days as a holiday destination are long past. But locals know the thermal waters and spas are still some of Italy’s best. I ended up there by chance, on the invite of a friend. The idea was to simply relax at a quiet farmhouse. Eat well. Watch the pastel sunsets over the Tuscan hills.
But bagni di notte called. So just hours after landing in Italy, my friend and I grabbed our swimsuits and headed to Terme di Chianciano spa for dinner and my first visit to a public bathing experience at night.
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The sun was still up when we arrived at Terme di Chianciano. A mural outside explained this has been site for swimming since Etruscan times. A friendly lady on the inside explained we’d need to purchase mandatory swim caps. (In white, eek!) We were also given our robes and locker keys and gleefully went off to fight off jetlag in a hot pool.
A Vegetarian Tuscan dinner
This would be our first meal out in Italy – and a bit of a test for myself (a vegetarian) and my companion (who is gluten-free). But one of the reasons we booked tickets for dinner is the spa advertised these accommodations to the set menu.
Our plates did not feel like afterthoughts, but carefully curated, bursting with local ingredients and flavours including marvellous honey. We actually couldn’t believe it was so good for the price, and the attentive service was on par with a fine restaurant. (Albeit one where everyone is wearing robes.) There was also wine, naturally.
Night Bathing: What to expect
I had no idea what to expect of a night bathing event. Would this be a party vibe? Was it more for romantic couples? It turned out to be quite a mixed crowd, and a chill, friendly atmosphere that became more social as the evening wore on.
Terme di Chianciano has three indoor pools, and four outdoor pools, with whirlpool jets and waterfalls. We were some of the first guests to slip into the waters after dinner. The sun was just setting over a nearby hill. We couldn’t believe our luck, to have found such a scenic, relaxing way to spend our first night in Italy.
As night fell, the outdoor pools were lit up with large balls of coloured light, and became a place for friendly socializing. On a terrace nearby, an acoustic duo played Italian pop music. We didn’t know any of the songs, but they seemed to be crowd-pleasers. I will admit this is the only time I’ve ever felt compelled to join along clapping while in a spa.
Meanwhile, the inside pools seemed to become the place for couples to quietly slip away from the crowds. We went exploring only to retreat quickly, so as not to interrupt. In any case, outside was our first choice. Why not enjoy the gorgeous evening breezes and starlit skies while floating in warmth?
Perhaps it’s because we were there in the summer of 2021, when travel hadn’t quite bounced back yet, or perhaps because Chianciano Terme isn’t the hot spot it was once, but the spa was blissfully undercrowded. Plus, anytime I can be the only foreign tourist in a beautiful space, it’s a treat. So visiting Terme di Chianciano really felt like a view to local culture here in small town Tuscany.
I also really quite liked wearing the swimcap, surprisingly. This was my first time visiting a spa or public bath which required it. There was a certain sophistication to everyone wearing the same white cap. And since it has the logo for Termi di Chianciano on it, I plan to wear it again on my travels just so I can tell everyone I went to this beautiful place.
Know Before You Go
My last visit was August 2021. Always check the spa’s official website for the latest info. Note that most information is in Italian only.
Where: Terme di Chianciano (also refererred to as Piscine Termali Theia) is in Chianciano Terme, about an hour’s drive south of Siena, 20 minute’s south of Montepulciano.
When: The Night Bathing events are held on Saturdays only during the summer, from 7pm to midnight. Tickets including dinner book in three timeslots: 7:30, 8:00 and 8:30. Tickets without dinner start at 9pm. Details and tickets here.
What to bring: Swimsuit, sandals and your water bottle. Robes are provided. A swim cap is mandatory and you can purchase on site for an extra 5Euro.
How Much: Night Bathing with Dinner is 54Euro; without dinner costs 39Euro. But I highly recommend you go for the dinner! Note that Night Bathing tickets do not include access to sauna and steam room facilities which are open during the day; check their site for details on day services and pricing.
Want more spa inspiration? Lonely Planet’s Wellness Escapes is a lovely hardcover filled with eye candy photos of hot springs, saunas, spas and other wellness resorts from around the world. These are expensive and often remote destinations, but even if you never get there, you can use this as a starting point for researching dream trips.