Brief Guides of:
Colle val d'Elsa
A porch-type bridge passes over the waters flowing from the bath towards the termal establishments and subsequently going on to feed a series of mills situated along the steep edge sloping down towards the river an area that may now be visited thanks to extensive resounding carried out by the St. Quirico Council (Watermill Park).
It is known that Catherine of Siena stayed in Bagno Vignoni several times, taken there by her mother in an attempt to dissuade her from taking the Order.
Other illustrious people, such as Pope Pio II Piccolomini and Lorenzo the Magnifilcent, who stayed for a period in 1490, also bear witness to the popularity of the baths.
The vicinity of the bath to the Via Francigena, scene of the heaviest flow of pilgrims on their way to Rome, persueded the less hurried of the travellers to make the acquaintance of and to use the spa waters. Mention is made of this in Michel de Montaigne’s travel diary in 1581.
During 16th century the waters and their curative properties inspired the Sienese scholar Lattanzio Tolomei, to write the Greek verses dedicated to the water Nymphs engraved on the marble table now enclosed on a pillar in St. Catherine’s open gallery.
The Commune of Siena had always kept the thermal treatments carried out in the zone under strict control and indeed two articles of the City Constitution are dedicated specifically to the Vignoni establishment, prescribing the division of the men‘s and women‘s bath with the cost of the operation to be borne half by the inhabitants and the hotel keepers of the zone and the other half by the inhabitants of the Val d’Orcia castles; room prices were also established.
During the same century, new interest and studies relating to mineral waters and the spa bath flourished. Among the authors who spoke of Bagno Vignoni was the physician Andrea Bacci who, visiting the bath in person in 1548, praised the magnificent hospitallty of the Amerighi family.
In 1592 the Grand Duke granted the said family the use of the gabelle of the bath, on the understanding that they in turn would arrange for the necessary maintenance; this agreement became permanent in 1599, on the same condition together with the obligation of keeping a bakery, a butcher’s shop and a tavern in Bagno, as well as, the staff required for carrying out the spa treatments, whilst the annual emptying of the bath in May saw the Amerighi family authorised to call upon the inhabitants of the Val d’Orcia for this purpose.
The small chapel dedicated to St. Catherine built in the center of the porch overlooking the termal pool, was constructed by this family.
In 1677 the Gran Duke Cosimo III proffered St. Quirico d’Orcia to Cardinal Flavio Chigi, together with the little villages of Vignoni and Bagno Vignoni; the thermal establishment, together with three mills, eight houses, a tavern and a certain amount of land thus passed into the hands of the Chigi family and their descendents to whom a part still remains in property.
Nowadays, Bagno Vignoni is well-known and appreciated the world over as an esteemed thermal locality situated in the heart of the Val d’Orcia Artistic Natural and Cultural Park, a context of almost immuted beauty throughout the centuries.
Look at the map