What to see in Rapolano Terme
Rapolano Terme is a small, charming Tuscan village located between the Val di Chiana and the Valle dell’Ombrone, embraced by the unique landscape of the Crete Senesi. As its name suggests, the town is famous for its spas, which have been renowned and appreciated since the 13th century. Today its travertine streets and squares still captivate tourists from all over the world.
Rapolano Terme is located just 25 kilometres from Siena and is a destination for wonderful excursions all year round, especially during the summer season. During September, it is also possible to visit fairs, exhibitions, and typical markets in Rapolano Terme. Here, then, are some suggestions on what to visit in Rapolano Terme to fully enjoy the beauty of this little Tuscan jewel.
Things to do in Rapolano Terme
Among the must-sees for those who choose to visit Rapolano Terme are the village’s spas. The ancient Romans were the first to frequent them, and it is said that in 1867 Giuseppe Garibaldi himself chose Rapolano’s beneficial waters to treat the wounds he suffered on Aspromonte. In the establishments of San Giovanni and the Antica Querciolaia, located a few kilometres from the centre of the village, the water gushes out at a temperature of 39 degrees and is used to treat the respiratory system and skin diseases. In addition to healing springs, the village offers several other places of interest that are worth visiting. So let’s find out what to see in Rapolano Terme.
The remains of the medieval walls of Rapolano Terme can be seen in the vicinity of the Porta dei Tintori, one of the most evocative access roads that leads to the historical centre. The imposing circular towers, built by the Sienese around the 14th century, hark back to distant times when Siena, one of the richest and most powerful cities in Tuscany, ruled and defended the numerous surrounding towns. In the centre of the town, you can still see the primitive nucleus of the village, characterised by tower-houses and a small Romanesque-style church. Visiting the town on foot or by bicycle, you can completely immerse yourself in an atmosphere full of history and traces of the past.
Church of St Bartholomew
In the oldest part of Rapolano Terme, in Piazza del Castellare, there is a unique building: the 14th-century Church of San Bartolomeo. The peculiarity of this church lies in the fact that its façade is no longer visible as the building has been incorporated into two other constructions. The only access point is a portal on one side. Once inside the church, one can admire several 14th-century frescoes and a painting by Vincenzo Rustici, depicting a Madonna with Child and Saints. The stucco altar is dedicated to Saint Anthony of Padua.
Moving from the oldest part of the village and heading towards the Terme dell’Antica Querciolaia, it is impossible not to notice the Water Park, an open-air masterpiece that is beloved of and cared for by the citizens of Rapolano Terme. Travertine, the village’s symbolic stone, is found in the dozens of sculptures preserved in the park, works by Italian masters such as Mauro Berrettini, Marcello Aitiani and Ronaldo Bigi, but also by international artists such as Joshito Fujibe, Rainer Irrgang, Kosei Maeda and many others.
The Water Gate, created by Pietro Cascella, serves as a monumental entrance to the park. The latter is located near a former travertine quarry that is now disused and has been turned into a lake. It is a place frequented both by the inhabitants of the village and many tourists, who, on hot summer days, take advantage of the shade of the trees to enjoy a break in the cool air.
Museo dell’Antica Grancia e dell’Olio
An unmissable stop for those who decide to visit Rapolano Terme is undoubtedly the Museo dell’Antica Grancia e dell’Olio. This museum tells the story of the ‘grancias’, ancient fortified farms built to preserve the agricultural harvest before transporting it to the city of Siena. Visitors can choose between two different routes: in one the history and functions of the grancias are illustrated, while the second explores the methods of cultivation and oil production.
Due to the need to store large quantities of products, the architectural structure of the buildings is extensive and includes granaries, vats, cellars, oil mills and large spaces for storing grain, wine and oil. Before leaving the museum, we recommend you stop by its renowned oil library, to taste and buy one of the most popular gastronomic products of the entire area.
What to see near Rapolano Terme
Leaving Rapolano Terme by car, or using public transport, you can quickly reach Siena, an enchanting medieval city that still retains a unique and timeless atmosphere. The history and traditions of this ancient village attract tourists from all over the world and make it one of the most popular destinations in the whole of Tuscany. The Siena Palio, a famous event in which the city’s Contradas compete against each other in a horse race, attracts thousands of onlookers every year who come to witness this event and its centuries-old history. For this and many other reasons, Siena is a must-see stop for those who want to fully experience the splendour of the Chianti hills.