Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Senza pagare

Reading the many Italian language web references to the Piscines Carletti (or Carletti Pools) near Viterbo, Lazio,  one thing seems to stick out: soaking here is free.

That said, there's precious little added. It's all free, free and free. 

Oh, and there's not much in the sense of management, there's a big car park. And you can get here with a bus.

There are though a couple of more meaningful additions in English. Minor sights:
'Don't be surprised if you see half naked people while driving your car on the nearby SP2 provincial road. These springs are hard to miss as they are right next to a junction. They're open, they're free, and they're a little more rough and ready as it's literally a piece of unguarded countryside. You'll find frugal Italian tourists parked next door in their camper van for a weekend for spa treatments senza pagare'.
This website adds:
'There are two “winter” baths near a water source, where the water is hotter. While the other two baths, used during the summers, are normally colder. That is why, the Carletti Pools are very pleasant during both hot and cold periods. The Carletti pools are famous because of their strategic position and even because they are completely free'
But that's about it.

No need to worry, free is fine with me. 

Staying just up the road, the Piscines Carletti are so easy to reach for me and free after all, so that I visited here a couple of times during my stay.

As stated above, the pools are very convenient to reach, located just along SP 2 road (connecting Viterbo and Tuscania), where there's a turn-off to the more for non-soakers Terme dei Papi. Why people would prefer to pay to lounge in a poorly drained artificial pool when all the groovy people are soaking nearby for absolute nothing beats me (I'm referring to the Papal baths ...)

Though there are some that park along the main road, on the south side of the pools there's a large car park, a bit rough though. 

My first visit was an early morning visit, park spaces enough even though there are a half a dozen campers there. 

You then walk through some rough grass towards the source itself, located about 3m above the rest of the field. 

Along the south and west sides are a few smaller pools and 1 larger one. Soaking water reaches the pools via small rivulets, access regulated via rags which close or open the various rivulets. 

That first morning there were two pools in working order, one very hot, one less hot. With myself we're a dozen soakers without this lower pool being crowded. Missing the language skills, the mostly men are discussing and arguing lively, so it's probably politics again.

On the other occasions, there have been a more varied crowd, young / old, male / female, people who just come to fill up their drinking water bottles, soakers / first time visitors; though hardly any foreign tourists. 
And on the sunny Saturday the citizenry of Viterbo came to use this as a park for sun soaking. 

One of the best ways to soak was in the latter hours of the day with the sun setting. At that time it was quite busy with many soakers still there and many newly arriving. The nearby military heliport was wasting some tax collected aircraft fuel by whirling around with their toys, much like being in a war zone itself.

On the other side of the source, waters carry over an aquaduct which through the times is now a chalk laden bridge. This was an older way to let waters cool. At the end is another larger and cooler pool.

Away from the source, the bridge and the cooler pool in the yonder.

Despite overwhelming evidence that this is a great place to visit even though it might have it's disadvantages, naturally tripadvisor gives the place just 3.5 stars, based on 44 reviews. All but the odd one or two are in Italian. An English comment:
'- There was too many people, certain persons smoked and drank inside the water. Popular, free but lack of respect for places by the users'. 
Many of the respondents commented on the lack of hygiene, lack of management. 
In itself it could be true, but due to it's location social control is high and yes hygiene could be better. But a chlorinated packed pool affords no guarantee of hygiene either. Let's hope a modicum of management will address some hygiene issues (f.i. rubbish collection). More in line with what's happening at the nearby Bullicame, which incidentally is nearly free.

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