Girls Trip to Golden Tuscany

Travel can be exhausting. So why not take a vacation while on vacation? After a hectic week in Rome, my sister Valerie and I decided to “chil-lax” at the Adler Thermae, a renowned spa resort whose pools are fed by thermal waters from the small town of Bagno Vignoni in the heart of Tuscany. Tuscany, one of Italy’s most popular regions, welcomes millions of visitors every year to cities such as Florence and Pisa.

We hopped the train to Chiusi, which is the closest railway stop to Bagno Vignoni. The resort’s driver met us at the station and driving an SUV, expertly whisked us along curving roads through dense woodlands. Soon we pulled up at the Adler, a striking modern structure that blends perfectly into the rural landscape.

Adler Thermae Spa Resort focuses on relaxation and wellness facilities with indoor and outdoor pools, a state-of-the-art gym, a slate of spa treatments and wellness specialties that include a Finnish sauna and an underground salt bath. Breakfast and dinner are included and the dishes are created with fresh local produce. It’s a full getaway package.

From the terrace of our room, we looked out upon spears of cypress trees that punctuated the viridian Val D’Orcia valley. We could also see and hear swimmers splashing in the mineral and freshwater pools. It was October, but the temperature bordered on hot, except with an occasional cooling breeze.

Some of the best amenities at the Adler are the complementary activities such as a visit to Pienza, a tour of a winery, a search in the woods for the precious fungus and truffles and a cooking class.

The Following Day

After a buffet breakfast in an open-air dining room, it was time for Valerie and me to go our separate ways. She was off to her personal mission of rest and relaxation and I was drawn to exploring Pienza. I joined 14 other guests in a minibus that only drove us to a dirt lane where we disembarked. We were to walk. We were told that our minibus would be waiting for exhausted stragglers at a distant crossroad.  High on a hill, our destination Pienza sparkled in the sun like gold due to its construction material of yellow stone.

Pienza is a medieval village that had been home to Pope Pius II. In 1459, the newly-elected pontiff, born Aeneas Sylvius Piccolomini, began to expand and improve his birthplace, which, at that time, was known as Corsignano He renamed it Pienza in his honor.

Once there, we each set off on our own with instructions to be back at the bus at a specific time because we had another stop to make. I strolled around, looking at modern shops, coffee bars and cafes, all located behind ancient facades. Eventually, I stumbled upon the cathedral bearing the coat-of-arms of Pope Pius II. Because of our schedule, I knew that I wouldn’t be able to find his papal palace. But I did have time to enjoy the panoramic view from the village walls.

Back on the bus, we traveled to Spedaletto to visit a small family factory called Mulino Val d’Orcia that produces organic wheat and bran flour. We learned from the young miller, Amadeo Grappi, how he grounds wheat in his stone mill. He demonstrated the making of pici (a thick spaghetti) with only flour and water. The Adler serves their pastas and breads and makes other baked goods from their flours. They then invited everyone to a midday meal, al fresco. Big bowls of pici in tomato sauce, platters of cold meats, baskets of fresh bread and plenty of red and white wine on a long table waited for us. Ah, la dolce vita!

When I returned to the resort, I found my sister well-rested and revitalized after a morning in the thermal pool and an afternoon experiencing a soothing massage in the spa. But my soul was also revitalized, if not well rested. Nevertheless, the next day, I had appointments for a Green Stamina anti-aging facial and an aqua zen massage. Again, la dolce vita!

Thinking about visiting Tuscany in the near future?  Be sure to check out the Adler Thermae Spa Resort.  For more info, visit

Photo credit: Eleanor McDaniel

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Eleanor Hendricks McDaniel is a seasoned travel journalist who enjoys writing about history, culture, food, wine, and some of the people she meets along the way. Her travels have taken her throughout the United States, Europe and other countries. She lives in Florida and has lived and studied in Florence, Italy and Paris, France.