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The Natural Caves

These two geothermal caves experience temperatures of  47 °C. The smaller and more striking of the two, known as Grotta Paolina (named after Napoleon’s sister, Pauline), consists of two chambers. They are fed by separate water sources with differing temperatures that vary according to depth, so the water is hotter at the trunk level of the body than at the feet. 
The calcium-bicarbonate-sulphate springs in the caves are believed to have healing properties for rheumatic or stress-related disorders. One folk legend would have it that the thermal activity in the area is caused by a volcano situated under the village of Bagni Caldi and nearby Ponte a Serraglio.

The natural steam in the caves has a strong myorelaxant and unwinding effect, which makes the cave a powerful natural de-stressing aid. The cave causes the skin to perspire profusely, smoothing it and leaving it silky and glowing, making it the ideal starting point for modern beauty and spa treatments. 

A little history...

It would appear that the thermal caves in Bagni di Lucca were already known and used back in Roman times, and that they were an attractive and distinguishing feature of the Jean Varraud spa, which over the centuries has been visited by famous people looking to regain their health and receive treatment. We know that the caves were restored by Matilda of Canossa in the 11th century and that they underwent further alterations in the 16th century. In the early 1920s works were undertaken to cover the walls with the white majolica tiles which gave them the form they have had until the present day.


Owing to the caves’ historical value and their precise form, restoration work has only involved the use of building materials and lighting, without modifying how the space is perceived as a whole. The caves’ distinguishing features and elements that have remained undamaged over time, such as the marble benches, have all been preserved. Typical local materials and components used elsewhere in the spa (Carrara, Botticino and Bardiglio marble) have been used to cover the walls and vaulted ceilings. 
The lighting is the only feature that is deliberately modern: small spotlights embedded in the ground enhance the winding effect of the walls, and accompany visitors all the way through to the thermal spring. Meanwhile, in the first part of the cave, light is emitted from inside cast iron vases mounted on marble columns.