Hot Water People

January 17, 2011 / Places

The January air may be chilly but at the hot water spas in the Viterbo area, there are dozens of happy people soaking in the outdoor pools enjoying the sun along with revitalizing heat from the sulphuric waters and vapors that flow from the source at 58°C.

Several countryside hot baths are scattered along a 12-kilometre fault line stretching between Vetralla and Viterbo with the favorite of local expats and Romans being Le Masse di San Sisto, located at the 77th kilometer of the Via Cassia.

Unlike the ancient Roman baths, the calidarium (hot pool), the tepidarium (lukewarm), and the frigidarium (icy cold) pools are all natural, fed by underground streams and used since Etruscan and Roman times for their health benefits.

These photos taken on January 15th show colorfully robed matrons partaking of sulfur vapors to help their sinus problems and colds. Local young people consider a weekly stop at the thermal pools their secret elixir and beauty treatment. Le Masse is also a social center where one can meet people while catching some sun or braving the chilly waters of the frigidarium pool with its original Roman brick structure.

Excerpt from Mary Jane’s newest book “Etruria travel, history and itineraries in Northern Lazio“. Special price for ItalianNotebook readers!! Contact: macryan (at) alice . it

Mary Jane Cryan

by Mary Jane Cryan

Mary Jane is a historian, cruise lecturer, author and publisher of books on Italian history and central Italy has been residing in Italy for half a century.

See her award winning website and weekly blog posts on 50YearsInItaly for more about central Italy and to order books directly from the author.

9 Responses to “Hot Water People”

  1. Love these places, and there are several in Etruria, as i recall—i am surprised though that there were so many people there in JANUARY. I went to the one in Saturnia which was really picturesque with its ‘clam shell’ little private pools, wonderful!

  2. I was just telling my 2 friends that we should visit Viterbo, when your email arrived.It looks lovely.

  3. Went to the Spa in Ischia when I was in Italy 5 years ago. It was wonderful. Wish I was there now.

  4. Giuseppa

    Amo l’Italia con tutte le sue stagioni Ci andro’quest’anno e visitero’ questi posti.Arrivederci Italia

  5. Went there yesterday — to an open area(free) outside Terme dei Papi…fifth trip to the terme baths since I arrived in Italy in 2008…just love it! Saturnia is truly rustic!! And so was an experience we had in Ischia…just love feelin’ like a Roman back in the day!


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