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Italy’s Veneto region has a wealth of ancient castles, thermal waters and beautiful towns

Wednesday, 09 February 2022 15:46
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Terme Euganee - Euganean Hills Euganean Spa

The Veneto region has ancient castles, hot thermal springs and beautiful towns that transport you back to yesteryear, as well as vibrant cities and stunning natural attractions.

Here are some of the places worth visiting, and of course there are many more just waiting to be explored throughout the region.

Arquà Petrarca. Home to the great poet Francesco Petrarch 

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Perhaps it was the same atmosphere of serene romanticism that you can still breathe today that made Petrarch fall in love with this well-preserved medieval village, where among aristocratic homes and elegant villas you can breathe the sentimental tranquility of the Euganean Hills.

It was 1370 when Petrarch arrived in this small town, and he was so bewitched by its beauty that he decided to take up residence in a house surrounded by greenery, which tradition says was given to him by Francesco da Carrara, Lord of Padua. Petrarch died a few years later in 1374, and was buried in a red Verona marble tomb in the center of the main square. There are many relics and numerous mementoes of his life in the house, and the rooms are decorated with interesting frescoes inspired by the poet’s writings.

However Arquà has a much more ancient history. In the homonymous lake, which is not far from the town, they have unearthed pile-dwellings that document the existence of a settlement in prehistoric times; perhaps one of the oldest in the whole Euganean area. This site of exceptional value has been included on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. 

Today this little 14th-century gem is still a place where you can stroll in silence along cobbled streets and under airy porticoes, admiring the exquisite architecture including numerous small residential dwellings in typical Venetian style. This priceless historical heritage has been recovered and enhanced in recent decades, so much so that today Arquà Petrarca is part of the club of the Most Beautiful Small Towns in Italy.

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Este. Handsome villas and artistic ceramics

Lying at the foot of the Euganean Hills, Este was the main settlement of the ancient Venetians who inhabited the area as early as the Iron Age. The city was an important Roman colony founded by the veterans of Augustus around the middle of the 11th century when it became the home of a feudal dynasty. 

The imposing medieval fortress, built by the Este family and enlarged by the Carrarese family, had walls that were over a kilometre long. The two remaining majestic towers enclose a splendid public garden. The Atestino National Museum in Palazzo Mocenigo is one of the most important in Italy for its pre-Roman collections. t.gif

The approximately four centuries of Venetian domination can be seen in the remains of the perimeter that once encircled the settlement, as in the beautiful palaces on the central Piazza Maggiore, including the Municipal Palace. Among the handsome villas we can admire Villa Kunkler which hosted Byron and Shelley, Villa Cornaro-Benvenuti, Villa Contarini degli Scrigni (called Vigna Contarena) and Villa Zenobio-Albrizzi.

There are also many numerous religious buildings including the Cathedral of Santa Tecla, with the body of Blessed Beatrice d'Este, and the grandiose altarpiece by Tiepolo depicting Santa Tecla interceding to free the city from the plague. Also worth a visit is the Basilica of Santa Maria delle Grazie, built to house a miraculous icon of the Cretan-Byzantine school, and the Church of the Beata Vergine della Salute, a treasure trove of masterpieces by Antonio Zanchi. The city of Este is still a center of production of high quality artistic ceramics, whose manufacture has continued almost without interruption from prehistoric days to the present.

Monumental Catajo Castle has 350 rooms

Catajo Castle is a monumental building full of history, charm and legends built in the 16th century by Pius Aeneas I of the Obizzi near Battaglia Terme (Padua).   Down the ages it has been a princely villa, a military quarters, a literary haunt and an imperial palace.

Built to celebrate the splendour of the Obizzi family who expanded it in the 17th and 18th centuries, later it was transformed into a ducal palace by the Habsburg-Este family of Modena and finally became an imperial holiday residence of the Habsburg emperors of Austria. In the 16th century it became home to one of the most important collections in Europe. 

With its 350 rooms, its Garden of Delights and its 40 hectares of grounds, Catajo Castle is one of the most imposing European historical residences and not to be missed. Open for individual visits, it also organizes private tours for groups on reservation. The Catajo is also a prestigious venue for weddings, corporate events and receptions, as well as for seasonal themed events for adults and children.

Abano Terme, a delightful spa town

Abano Terme is an important spa town with many hotels most of which have spa facilities. The city centre has a large pedestrian island overlooked by ancient and modern buildings, large hotels with manicured gardens, clubs and a central park with the Montirone Hill.

The city is framed by the green Euganean Hills and has elegant historic villas, some of which are now prestigious venues for cultural and sporting events. The beneficial and healthy waters of Abano Terme come from the meteoric water from the Piccole Dolomiti and Monti Lessini mountains. These flow underground at a depth of over 3,000 meters before gushing into the Euganean thermal basin.

All the thermal establishments have the 1° Super qualification indicating strict disciplines in the use of thermal waters. The EU Fango D.O.C. trademark denotes mud which, matured in controlled environmental conditions and in constant contact with thermal water, is enriched with a microflora rich in active ingredients. The extraordinary therapeutic properties of Abano's thermal waters are applied to a wide range of treatments and programmes aimed at the well-being and health of the guest.  

For more information:


Regione Veneto
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