On 1 – 9 July 2022, the rurAllure team from the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid | UAM involved in the pilot project ‘Thermal heritage and others along the Ways to Rome’ conducted a study visit to the pilot area along the Via Francigena, travelling for a week through the territories with a high concentration of thermal sites in the Province of Viterbo (Lazio) and in the south of the Province of Siena (Tuscany).
In the spirit of the rurAllure project, the team – composed by the archaeologist Silvia González Soutelo, the geographer Laura García Juan and the geologist Miguel Gómez-Heras – visited the sites along the Via Francigena, such as the city of Viterbo and the town of Bagno Vignoni, but also some particularly interesting places and heritage sites which are not far from the official route track.
In Lazio, the experts focused on the thermal town of Viterbo and its surroundings, visiting the historic centre, the famous thermal baths Terme dei Papi and Piscine Carletti, the archaeological site Terme degli Ebrei, the thermal springs Bacucco and Acquarossa and the thermal town Ferentino. The site visit also explored the area of Lake Bracciano, touching the archaeological site Aquae Caeretanae, the natural area Caldara di Manziana – characterised by phenomena of secondary volcanism – and the thermal baths of Stigliano and Sutri.
The hydromineral and hydrothermal basin of Viterbo is in fact one of the most abundant in Italy, known by the Etruscans and Romans for its healing waters. Later, the thermal baths were appreciated by many popes, including Pope Boniface VIII and Pope Nicholas V, who in 1500 commissioned a residence in order to stay in Viterbo and enjoy this extraordinary natural heritage for cures and bathing – reason why the city is also known as “City of the Popes”. Nowadays, the thermal area of Viterbo covers a vast territory of free thermal pools and wonderful establishments with annexed hotels, as well as numerous springs and archaeological sites connected to the thermal baths.
In Tuscany the rurAllure group travelled between San Quirico d’Orcia and Sasso Pisano, a locality famous for its natural thermal baths and the Etruscan-Roman thermal complex. They also visited the Biancane Park and the Biancane MUBIA Geomuseum. Contrary to the latter, the San Quirico d’Orcia area has been the subject of several study visits by the rurAllure UAM and AEVF team which led to the organisation of events such as the I love Francigena thermal hikes, free and open to all, and the accessibility workshop for the visually impaired with a focus on the thermal and geological heritage of Bagno Vignoni.
The importance of these field experiences lies above all in the possibility of getting a first-hand knowledge of the area to be able to enhance the less-known heritage and propose new itineraries to discover.
The results of the rurAllure studies are provided on the dedicated portal rurAllure, a useful tool for pilgrims walking the rurAllure routes.