Everyone thinks about Sicily as a summer destination, where we can spend entire days on the beach or looking for archaeological wonders (like the stunning Valley of the Temples in Agrigento), moreover, the island is well known for its sunny climate, the high quality of food and the presence of more and more exclusive hotels, reserved to very demanding travelers.
However, there is a tradition perhaps less known that deserves a themed trip, namely the abundance of hot springs and thermal bathss. The activity of the thermal springs in Sicily has been documented since Roman times and is related to Etna, one of the few active volcanoes in Europe.
My decision to follow a thermal itinerary is the result of the inclusion of Etna among the world Heritage Sites by UNESCO, happened in 2013.
At the end of my journey I found four reasons, or rather four venues, that you must know if you are looking for a wellness break.
Photo credits: www.lipari.biz/notizia.asp?idnews=25570
Vulcano Thermal Springs
Photo credits: Pierluigi Stefanizzi via Flickr
Vulcano Thermal Baths consist in a puddle of mud surrounded by hillocks. The mud is characterized by a mixture of clay with sulfur at high temperature (between 40°and 80°), due to the inflow of hot gases from underground.
After a dive in the lake I washed into the sea, whose sulphurous-salty-bromine-iodic waters have many beneficial properties.
Vulcano is one of the Aeolian Islands, an archipelago in the province of Messina increasingly popular with travelers in search of unspoiled and wild nature.
The whole archipelago is of volcanic origin, but only Vulcano and Stromboli are still active. Those who love hiking won’t be disappointed: just in Vulcano I visited the Horse Cave, accessible by small boats and connected to the Specchio di Venere, a natural pool of incredible beauty.
In the province of Messina, in addition, they are also the Terme di Vigliatore and the thermal baths of Ali Terme, a town much liked by Sicilian people and known since the XVI century.
Segesta Thermal Baths
Photo credits: Terme libere di Segesta by Davide Castiglia, via flickr
Here you have 2 options: Terme Segestane thermal baths and free baths in Ponte Bagni. To reach this place I moved to Castellammare del Golfo, between Palermo and Trapani, where there is a lovely castle to see, until a few decades ago lapped by the sea.
Just above the baths you can visit the archaeological remains, including the castle of Calathamet, probably dating back to the Islamic period (the Arabic name actually means fortress of the bathrooms).
Termini Imerese Thermal Spa
Termini Imerese is situated in the province of Palermo and it is interesting to know that the first to take advantage of the thermal waters were the Romans, who built a large aqueduct that carried water from sources at 8 km from the city.
With regard to the Spa, it is said that the nymphs created the water source in order to restore Hercules, so these sources are connected to regeneration and vitality.
In my opinion, matching historical tours (proposed by expert guides on site) with top quality wellness treatments is a winning combination for an unforgettable holiday.
Acqua Pia Thermal Baths
Montevago was a pleasant surprise of the trip because I didn’t know this town. Yet it is a fantastic place, in the province of Agrigento, where the hot springs are surrounded by the greenery of Valle del Belice. The Acqua Pia Thermal Baths are equipped for all needs and is a destination to be reckoned with Montevago, a village founded in 1636 and then rebuilt elsewhere following the earthquake of 1968.
Nearby is Sciacca, which is assumed to be the oldest Sicilian Spa. According to the legend, Daedalus built the caves that gather vapors from underground volcanic activity on Mount Kronio (today known as Monte San Calogero).
Photo Montevago credits: stradadelvinoterresicane.it/montevago
I haven’t included in this itinerary the Acireale Thermal Baths because unfortunately at the moment are closed: I trust in the reopening and enhancement of this heritage for the island, also as an incentive to visit the baroque town of Acireale. The park surrounding the thermal baths has always been appreciated by celebrities and artists including Richard Wagner.
Duomo di Acireale photo credits: http://bit.ly/24DN58i
In conclusion we don’t need to wait until summer to go there and enjoy the benefits of the Sicilian thermal springs, in fact I am convinced that it’s better to go in the other seasons to avoid the mass tourism and live unique experiences in complete relax.
This post was written by Alberto Statti, a travel blogger always looking for destinations to explore in a different way.
Credits preview photo: http://bit.ly/1Ts52mW