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The rolling Tuscan hillside is known for its vineyards, scenic landscapes, and artistic legacy. One of its better-kept secrets sits just outside the small village of Saturnia on the grounds of an old mill. For centuries, locals and visitors alike have flocked to the Cascate del Mulino, a beautiful, cascading thermal spring in the charming Italian Province of Grosseto.

Holding at a steady temperature of 99.5 degrees Fahrenheit (37.5° C), the vibrant sulphuric water spills down the hillside, creating delightfully relaxing open-air pools.” Saturnia and its springs share a rich history, dating back to the 20th century B.C. The locals claim that it was the first established village on the Italian peninsula and that the springs are believed to be the former refuge for the ancient god of Saturn when he was exiled from the “throne of the gods.”

The springs are formed from natural travertine and lined with mud that many people believe to have healing properties. At a flow of over 500 liters per second, the pools are refilled with fresh water every four hours. While the creek that flows into the pools is quite warm from the sulfur it contains, the water is warmest at Cascate del Mulino, and it remains the most popular soaking point for visitors.

Open year-round and free to the public, the springs can be quite crowded during peak tourist seasons. The best time to seek solitude at Cascate del Mulino is on a weekday or in the fall, winter or very early spring. The balmy water offers protection from cold air no matter the season.

For those seeking to combine the beauty of the thermal springs with a more traditional spa experience, there are several luxury resorts nearby, including the Terme di Saturnia Spa & Golf Resort where the flow of the water originates.

Perfectly integrated into the ethereal beauty of the Tuscan hillside, the Cascate del Mulino is sure to offer a natural spa experience unlike any other.

The December solstice in the Northern Hemisphere occurs when the North Pole reaches its maximum tilt away from the sun, causing the shortest period of daylight and the longest night of the year. In about six months, as Earth travels on its yearlong journey around the sun, the Northern Hemisphere will be tilted toward the sun, and the Southern Hemisphere will reach its maximum tilt away from the sun. The seasons are caused by the fact that Earth is tilted on its axis by 23.5 degrees.

The winter solstice is regarded as the beginning of winter, but from this point the days begin to lengthen. Still, the coldest part of the winter lags behind the solstice, usually coming in January and February. That’s because Earth is constantly losing heat, and more heat is leaving the reservoir in the Northern Hemisphere’s mid- and high latitudes than is being added to it. In the same way, the warmest days of the year lag behind the summer solstice, much as the hottest part of a summer day occurs several hours after the sun is at its noonday high point.

What is the winter solstice?

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