Italian government offers free visits to thermal baths to boost economy

After spa visits dropped by 70 per cent during the pandemic, the Italian government is building back the industry with free incentives

Aisha Rimi
Thursday 11 November 2021 17:39 GMT
The pampering vouchers from the Italian government worth €200 (£171) were met with a huge demand
The pampering vouchers from the Italian government worth €200 (£171) were met with a huge demand (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

The Italian government is offering free steam baths and volcanic mud treatments as part of a scheme to revitalise the economy.

Some €53m (£45m) has been allocated to fund the initiative which, due to heavy demand, caused a government website to crash earlier this week.

Over one million requests for vouchers were received, mainly coming from citizens who had never visited a thermal bath before, but just 265,000 applicants were able to get their hands on the spa vouchers worth €200 (£171) each.

“It’s been an extraordinary success and a really efficient way of relaunching the thermal bath business as well as stimulating the economy, since a euro spent at a bath means another six spent on local restaurants and accommodation,” Massimo Caputi, the president of Federterme, a thermal baths lobby group, told Il Sole 24 Ore.

Pre-pandemic, Italy’s 300 thermal baths were visited by three million visitors annually. The country is home to many natural hot springs thanks to its geological composition.

“As you move around the country you find the right waters for treating different ailments, from psoriasis to arthritis,” added Caputi. “Thermal baths also help damaged lungs so are also perfect for the 4.5 million ex-Covid sufferers in Italy.”

Holidays, bikes and TVs for Italian citizens have also been subsidised by the government, all in an effort to kick-start the consumer economy as Italy bounces back from the pandemic, which caused the country’s GDP to decrease by nine per cent.

Keen to try out these baths for yourself? We’ve listed our favourites below.

Four Italian thermal baths worth visiting

Saturnia, Tuscany

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Located in Tuscany, the small town of Saturnia has the most famous thermal baths in Italy. Here, the natural mineral waters spring from an old volcanic crater and these baths can reach around 37C - perfect to enjoy in every season. Visitors can discover Roman and Etruscan archaeological structures in the town as well as explore the other small villages nearby.

Fosso Bianco in Bagni San Filippo, Tuscany

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This thermal bath can be found in the small village of Bagni San Filippo, Tuscany. A little less well-known by foreign visitors, these small mud-rich springs are surrounded by the woods, providing an experience that puts nature front and centre all year round.

Sirmione on Lake Garda, northern Italy

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Not only can tourists enjoy the thermal baths in Sirmione, but they can also take in the beauty of the surrounding medieval village. Located on Lake Garda in northern Italy, the baths offer quiet and relaxation alongside archaeological discoveries in the nearby village.

Bormio, Lombardy

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The Bormio thermal baths are located in the heart of Valtellina, an area known for its excellent skiing conditions. The baths are 1,300 metres above sea level, offering spectacular views of the snow-capped Alps.

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