San Giuliano Terme

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Why come to San Giuliano Terme Italy? To enjoy many of the most fascinating aspects of Tuscany: nature, art, history, culture, good food and relaxation. The Municipality of San Giuliano extends for almost 100 km: it includes the green plain between The Rivers Serchio and Arno and stretches from the slopes of Monte Pisano to the sea. In just a ten minute drive you can choose whether to drive up the hills, go to the beach or take a trip round Pisa. That is not all: you can visit the Calci Museum, one of the historic villas in the area or if you fancy something more extreme, you can even try the thrill of paragliding. Is vacation for you synonymous with taking things easy? Well, the wonderful spas, which used to be called the 'Pisa Baths', are the perfect location in which to relax.

HOW TO REACH SAN GIULIANO TERME PISA: if you come by car from the north via the A11 motorway Florence-Pisa, our suggested exit is Lucca-Est; from the south, from Aurelia, follow the signs to the Tower of Pisa, whilst along the FI-PI-LI exit at Cisanello-ospedale. In all three cases follow the signs to Lucca or San Giuliano, and you will find yourself on State Road 12 that will lead you to your destination. If you prefer the train, just a short walk from the San Giuliano Terme thermal baths you can find the San Giuliano Terme train station, with departures every 30 minutes in the direction of Pisa or Lucca.

AN ENVIABLE LOCATION! As you can see, San Giuliano Terme is in a fantastic location: in ten minutes by car (9 km) you can reach Pisa, in about half an hour you get to Lucca (20 km) and Livorno (31 km) and if you do not want to miss it, the distance from Florence to San Giuliano Terme by car only takes slightly over an hour. If you find yourself around here in the summer, the nearest beach resorts are those of Marina di Vecchiano or Marina di Pisa. The greater part of the first resort has free-access beaches backed by pristine dunes, whilst Marina di Pisa is a quiet Art Nouveau town suitable for families. If you want something livelier, Torre del Lago, a gay-friendly resort that every summer houses the famous Puccini Festival, and Viareggio both offer several dining options and a vibrant nightlife.

SAN GIULIANO IN HISTORY. If you visit San Giuliano Terme and its surroundings, you will find the ruins of an ancient aqueduct scattered throughout the area: they are proof that the area and its healing waters were already known back in Roman times: Pliny the Elder, in fact, mentions them in his ‘acque pisanae’.

San Giuliano Terme (Pisa Italy), and especially its hamlet of Ripafratta, had a strategic position due to its northernmost location in the Pisa Republic. The marble quarries were used for the construction of many of the buildings in Pisa, such as the city walls: even a special channel was built precisely to make it easier to transport marble to Pisa.
This period of economic prosperity generated the opportunity to implement a vast programme of improvements for the Thermal Baths of San Giuliano Terme and the town that lasted more or less until 1400. In 1406, following the conquest of Pisa by Florence, and above all the destruction caused by the fighting, the Baths unfortunately traversed a period of decline that ended with the rule of the Medici. One of the historical figures that San Giuliano owes a lot to was undoubtedly Cosimo de Medici: he built a road up to Pisa, the aqueduct in Asciano, precisely known as the Medicean aqueduct, and drained the surrounding wetlands. According to a description in 1568, at this time there were five baths in the area where now Levante Thermal Baths are located and three others called Regina, S. Lazzaro and Nervi.

Another key figure in the history of San Giuliano Terme was Francesco Stefano di Lorena, who, following international agreements, relinquished the Grand Duchy of Tuscany after the death of the last descendant of the Medici. The Lorena family recognized the tourist potential of the area and decided to invest in wide-ranging improvements. In addition to the necessary works of water channelling necessary to avoid all the problems that occurred in the past, Antonio Cocchi, amongst others, was commissioned to make a scientific classification of the therapeutic properties of the waters. But it was not until Francesco di Lorena, future husband of the Empress Maria Teresa of Austria, chose San Giuliano Terme as his summer residence, that the centre became famous among the nobility of Europe. With a 'testimonial' like him, the list of what people nowadays call 'celebrities' soon became rather packed: King George IV of England, Vittorio Alfieri, Albert Camus, G.G. Byron, Percy B. Shelley to name a few.

In 1776 around 31 small towns in the area were merged into a single municipality with San Giuliano as their head town: this explains why the area of San Giuliano Terme is so vast. In the same period Pietro Leopoldo built 'Viale Boboli', the road lined by sycamore trees that still leads to Pisa. He also built a parterre and the 'Kaffehaus', which still is part of the spa area and from which you can enjoy a wonderful view of the surrounding area.
In the 20th century, agriculture and marble quarrying became the main activities of the area. In 1935 the property of the spas was passed on to INPS, which in 1992 decided to close them down; the town then proceeded in taking them over under the management of 'Terme di San Giuliano s.r.l.'. In 2003 'STB Società Terme e Benessere S.p.A.' became the main owner after securing a 96% share and therefore acquired full control of the spas.

TERME: YOU CANNOT BUY CLASS... BUT WATER HERE IS CLASSY... The San Giuliano Terme Baths and the Bagni di Pisa Palace and Spa resort, together with its rooms and suites, are housed exactly in the eighteenth century building that was once the summer residence of Francesco Stefano di Lorena: you will be surrounded by painted ceilings, marble floors, sumptuous furnishings and have the opportunity to take a walk in the gardens adorned with olive and lemon groves, like many writers and noble families of Europe did in the past. So if you want to feel like a king or a queen, the Pisa Baths are the right place! But let's talk about these wonderful waters: what are their characteristics and properties and what are the facilities offered by the centre that rely on the use of the waters? These are alkaline waters with low mineral content, i.e. their fixed residue of dissolved salts exceeds 50 mg/l, also containing sulphate, bicarbonate and soil residues. They originate from two springs, Bagni di Ponente and Bagni di Levante at different temperatures, respectively 40° C and 38° C.

The waters of the Ponente Thermal Baths are used mainly for the treatment of rheumatic diseases, arthritis, arthrosis, muscle contractures and traumas. They are also utilized for mud baths, whirlpools and steam baths that are taken inside a picturesque cave. This is accessed through a tunnel leading to the tub carved into the stone, where you can enjoy the spiritual and physical benefits of the steamy and wet environment. The Ponente Thermal Baths today have also become a meeting point between East and West, where in addition to the more strictly therapeutic benefits, staff will ensure you feel fully looked after. Here you will find in fact an Oriental area where you can try the techniques of Chinese medicine such as acupuncture. At the Pisa Thermal Baths there are also swimming pools: only in this area there is an indoor one with hot water coming directly from the spring and an outdoor one equipped with hydro massage... a blessing for the circulatory system and of course for relaxation!

The waters of the Levante Thermal Baths are used for inhalation therapy, and the treatment of ailments of the respiratory and airway systems. In this area you can also find a reinvigorating spa circuit, called 'bioacquam', in the large central tank where, surrounded by the vaults of the 1700s, you will enjoy different types of hydro massage. Among the services that you can enjoy at the Pisa Thermal Baths, the 'Bathroom of Mercury' is also noteworthy: here the salt has a concentration of 18%, and as in the Dead Sea, you will float like there is no gravity. Worth a try! The 'Bagno di Minerva' offers a whole range of energizing hydro massage: in between swims you should also try the miraculous health benefits of the 'Salidarium', a bed of hot salt crystals.

The complex of San Giuliano Terme in Pisa also includes a number of facilities at your disposal to fully pamper and spoil yourself: the San Giuliano Terme restaurant with views over the Tower of Pisa offers various menus including a low calorie one; the famous 'Kaffeehaus' of San Giuliano Terme, for when you feel like behaving properly, a magical and enchanted place accessed through a garden of olive and lemon groves, the terrace overlooking the surrounding hills where you can spend magical summer evenings with the music accompaniment of the piano, and the bar, housed in a fantastic room built in the 1800s.

WHAT TO SEE IN SAN GIULIANO TERME: YOU WILL BE SPOILT FOR CHOICE! In addition to the unmissable visit to the city of the Leaning Tower, the Pisa Thermal Baths and its surroundings are the destination for a wide range of excursions. If you want to stretch your legs, nothing better than to choose one of the protected nature reserves in the area: Monte Castellare, or Valle delle Fonti or again the Regional Park of Migliarino San Rossore and Massaciuccoli. As for the first two, the dense network of trails and facilities, including low-cost accommodation and educational centres, makes them easily accessible. The same goes for the 'king of the nature parks’ in the area, which would need a whole chapter just for itself! The information centres are scattered throughout its vast territory: San Rossore is the closest one to San Giuliano, but there are also those of Brilla (Quiesa), Torre del Lago and the Massaciuccoli oasis of Birdwatching in Massarosa, all within the province of Lucca. You can visit the park on foot, on horse, by bicycle and by boat. Here again there is plenty to choose among. If you have children, take them to the Natural History Museum of Calci, with its main centre in Certosa di Calci: the section on dinosaurs and the one housing huge skeletons of whales will thrill them!

Along the road from San Giuliano to Ripafratta - the state road 12 Abetone and Brennero - there are also villages where you can find interesting tips for your walks in the hills. First of all, a beautiful landscape with pines and the ever-present hillside terraces with olive tree groves... Let’s not forget that we are in the vicinity of the olive road! Let's start from Ripafratta. Here you can see unfortunately just the remains of what were once three buildings, reminders of the eras during which this site enjoyed a strategic importance: the Hermitage of Santa Maria Martyres, an Augustinian monastery from 1214 where it seems Sant'Agostino stayed on his return from Africa; the Ripafratta Fortress (also known as the Ripafratta Castle) and the Cadaccoli Roman aqueduct, with only eight preserved and standing arches. Further down is Pugnano, the location of one of the most beautiful villas of the area: Roncioni Villa named after Francesco Roncioni, the architect who in the 1700s took charge of its construction. Surrounded by a beautiful English park, this villa is home to the Cerretelli Foundation where you can see a display of 25,000 stage costumes from the Ceratelli art house in Florence. Also in Pugnano is a small Romanesque church dating back to the ninth century that houses the 'Madonna delle Grazie della Scapigliata'. According to a local legend, the ‘scapigliata’ was a woman who, after receiving grace, went out without a hat to thank the Virgin Mary. Continuing on the road, you will arrive in Rigoli where in addition to the little church of San Marco you will find Villa Alta, named after its enviable panoramic position. Indeed, it has become a highly demanded location for events and wedding ceremonies but can be visited every day upon appointment. Finally Corliano, where the ancient Corliano Villa is located, the town which acquired its present-day resemblance in the mid-1700s. Here again you will find a manicured lawn dotted with many buildings, among them the Church of St. Peter and Paul. It has been converted into a refined period hotel where you can spend a relaxing holiday and taste local products at its restaurant. The villa can also be visited by appointment, and you can combine this into an aperitif.

As in the whole of Italy, this area has its fair share of local fetes and celebrations. The most important is the Agrifiera Pontasserchio which takes place in May: a real feast of agricultural and gardening products, livestock, food and wine. A few examples: 'the golden nectar', the olive oil produced in this area, torta coi bischeri (a type of cake), pine nuts of the regional park of Migliarino San Rossore and Massaciuccoli and the meat of the 'mucco pisano', a breed used in the past for field work and milking. Its meat is particularly suitable for long-cooking dishes such as the filling of the delicious ravioli you will find on the menu in many restaurants in the area. Because, be honest, don’t you want to treat yourself a bit? And if you go over the top, do not worry: at the Bagni di Pisa Palace and Spa there are excellent circuits of 'remise en forme'…