The Hot Springs of the Euganian Hills
Euganian Hills ItalyLooking rather out of place in this area are the conical green Euganian Hills. These are remnants of long extinct volcanoes, hence their uniform shape, rising unexpectedly from the surrounding plains. Located to the south west of Padova, the journey is approximately 1 ½ hours from Desenzano del Garda, a drive of about 105km (65 miles). A clue to their origins remains in the many hot springs which can be found in this area.
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At Abano Terme and Montegrotto Terme there are scores of establishments which advertise thermal treatments ranging from mud baths to soaking in the hot sulphurous waters. The spa cures date back to Roman times, when many spa towns and baths were built throughout the Roman Empire. The original baths and theatre can still be seen here if you visit the Montegrotto Terme, just north of Monselice.
As you explore the area you will probably enjoy visiting the Benedictine Monastery at Praglia, 6km (4miles) west of Abano Terme. This peaceful haven is an active monastery where the monks grow herbs and restore manuscripts. They will also take visitors on an informative guided tour of the abbey and the 15th century church with its beautiful cloister. Richly carved choir stalls, paintings and frescoes by Zelotti draw the eye in the dome of the church and in the refectory.
The town of Arqua Petrarca marks the southern edge of the Euganian Hills. It is named after the medieval poet, Francesco Petrarch, and his home is open to the public. The house is frescoed with scenes from his poems and has stunning views of the surrounding vineyards and olive groves. He is buried in a simple sarcophagus in front of the local church. From here it is easy to head back to Verona along some small and scenic local roads.
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