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HISTORY BETWEEN MYTH AND LEGEND

Mythology would have it that Saturn, the god of peace and abundance, lost his patience one day on seeing the constant warfare of men. So, he took a thunderbolt and hurled it into the crater of a volcano, causing a river of hot sulphurous water to gush forth and flow through valleys, mountains and plains, to envelop all men and things so that their spirits were finally quietened. This was the start of a golden age dedicated to Saturn, a happy period, illuminated by the beauty of women and the strength of men, converted to agriculture, hunting and love. The legend was set in the heart of the Tuscan Maremma, at Saturnia, where the spring water still gushes out at a constant temperature of 37°C. Legend apart, which attributes to Saturnia the status of the most ancient Italic city, what we do know for certain is that it already existed in Etruscan times, when it was known as Aurinia, later to be named Saturnia by the Romans. The centuries of Christianity and the Middle Ages were dark years for the Baths, considered in fact to be places of lust and perdition. However, it was in the ashes of the Middle Ages that hydrotherapy planted its roots and, with it, Terme di Saturnia. Having reacquired their prestige, the Baths were fought over by the local Feudal landowners, the Aldobrandeschi, the Santa Fiora and those of Sovana. From then on, there was a succes- sion of disputes and owners until 1454, when the Baths were completely renewed as part of a great land reclamation scheme and flourished once again thanks to colonies from Piacenza, Romagna and Lombardy who applied for and obtained a permit for the Saturnia Baths. The thermal baths of Saturnia were still flourishing under the Great Duchy of Cosimo II of Florence and were considered to be an extraordinary cure for skin diseases on the threshold of the 1700s. However, the modern age only arrived in 1865, when the Baths were acquired by the Ciacci, who reclaimed the site, rationalized the baths and restored the buildings to create favourable conditions for the foundation of a real spa facility. In the course of this century, it was then Gaspero Ciacci's turn to make a further step forward in valorising the thermal springs: it was he in fact who, in 1919, had the first hotel built and commissioned the University of Pisa to carry out the first scientifically complete analyses of Saturnia's thermal waters. In 1946 the Ciacci family transferred ownership of the Baths to Messrs. Passalacqua who, in 1956, sold them to Terme di Saturnia Company, headquartered in Rome. Terme di Saturnia is currently owned by the York Capital Group and Feidos.

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