A long the length of the Apennine peninsular rises a series of thermal springs where, for hundreds of years, people have come to experience their healing powers. To many, the concept of salus per aquam, or spa, now means a place of massage, candles and meditative music. But, to the Italians, a spa remains about the treatment of ailments through thermal waters.

Until only 20 years ago, if a patient had a prescription, the state would fund sojourns for up to 15 days to treat problems from bronchitis to arthritis. Today, ‘patients’ come on their own account, and one of the country’s finest termi rises high in the hills of southern Tuscany at San Casciano dei Bagni. ‘The practice of taking the waters is gaining favour once more,’ says Mauro Bonacini, manager of the Fonteverde Natural Spa Resort.

The hotel is about to launch Fonteverde Living, a collection of two-bedroom and studio apartments a few hundred yards from the spa’s outdoor thermal water pools with spectacular views (above), just beneath the medieval village of San Casciano. ‘Many of us dream of owning a house in the Tuscan hills, but the reality is complicated.

Here, people can own an apartment and have use of the spa pools on their doorstep, but leave the management to our staff.’ Owners can rent the apartments back to the hotel when they’re not in use, keeping 60% of the income. ‘It’s a year-round destination,’ says Lucy Russell of Quintessentially Estates.

‘Even during the winter, you can relax outside in the hot springs-it really is something quite special.’ Large, one-bedroom studios start at €420,000, two-bedroom apartments from €950,000, plus annual management fees with Quintessenti-ally Estates (0845 224 3658; www.quintessentially.com).

Take three: apartments in Tuscany and Umbria


Chianni, Tuscany, €250,000

A collection of one-, two- and three-bedroom homes in Borgo, Chianni, 30 minutes from Pisa and less than an hour from Florence (0870 890 9936; www.realitalia.co.uk).

Upside A very reasonable price for Tuscany

Downside The pool is communal

San Vittorino, Umbria, £355,000

Eight period farm buildings restored to create one- and three-bedroom homes 30 minutes from Perugia, with 120 acres of private countryside, a pool and a tennis court (020-
3178 4975; www.ultissimo.com).

Upside Properties can be let

Downside No daily UK flights

San Vittorino, Umbria, £355,000

Eight period farm buildings restored to create one- and three-bedroom homes 30 minutes from Perugia, with 120 acres of private countryside, a pool and a tennis court (020-3178 4975; www.ultissimo.com).

Upside Properties can be let

Downside No daily UK flights