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Monteortone, with a bride in the doorway


Abano Terme

About Abano Terme

Grand entrance to Montirone park

Abano Terme is a spa resort in the Veneto region of north-east Italy, close to Padua. The town is located on a plain close to a range of low green hills, the Colli Euganei (Euganean Hills). The 'Terme' part of the name means 'spa' - previously the town was also known as Abano Bagni, which means much the same. Abano is pronounced with the stress on the first syllable; both 'e's of Terme are pronounced.

A sign at the entrance to Abano Terme greets visitors: 'Welcome. Please avoid disturbing noises'. This sums up the atmosphere of the leafy town. Abano is dedicated to rest and relaxation, and does its best to avoid anything which might disturb the languid pottering of its visitors. Like the Veneto seaside town of Lido di Jesolo, Abano Terme is more like a purpose-built holiday resort than a typical Italian town. The town's tourism publicity boasts about the number of hotels and realistically this is the most striking thing about the modern town. Strolling or driving through Abano, the tourist is faced with avenues and avenues of hotels, all similar. Each hotel is a tall, modern structure with its name in large letters, a small shady garden set behind a roadside fence, a water feature and a big sign advertising its thermal spa facilities and pools. A few guests are likely to be lounging on comfortable chairs under a portico.

Things to see

Abano Terme isn't really a busy sightseeing town; it's more a place to wander, to chat, to stop for a drink and watch other holidaymakers stroll by. A good place to start is the town's central tourist information office, which stocks town plans and information about the surrounding area.

The heart of town is a peaceful modern pedestrian zone dotted with shops and cafes, sculptures and plenty of water features to show off the town's great asset (you may be disappointed if you dip your hand in to test the temperature, though). In this amiable area you'll find the elegant Grand Hotel Orologio - one of Abano's few interesting historical buildings, but sadly closed-up when we visited. Opposite is another hotel with historic significance, the Hotel Trieste & Vittoria, which served as headquarters for the Italian military command in 1918.

Sculptures and water features, Abano Terme

A short walk along Viale delle Terme is the historic centre of town. Abano's cathedral, the Duomo di San Lorenzo, was originally founded in the tenth century, and it still retains its fourteenth-century belltower. Alongside is a rather odd modern development (from the 1990s though already tired-looking) of housing and shops, with a giant sundial in the centre. The rest of town is fairly uniform and featureless; mostly composed of avenues lined with hotels.

One interesting sight is the little hilly park of Montirone. The history of this area goes back to the times of those inveterate bathers, the Romans. Later, in the nineteenth century, the park was a showplace for the spa waters. It still has a grand colonnaded entrance (see our photo top right) but the waters have long dried up and the park is rather forlorn. The town's art gallery, the Pinacoteca, lies just inside the colonnades. It consists of a small collection of mildly interesting works, with free admission.

A walk from central Abano is a suburb called Monteortone, which curves under the wooded slopes of a hill. There is an important church here; the Santuario della Madonna della Salute di Monteortone (open 8am-12 and 3-6pm, though there may be services taking place) which has a picturesque exterior and some lovely frescoes within. The walk takes about 25 minutes; local buses also cover the route. Collect a map and directions from the tourist information office.

Things to do in Abano Terme

Many guests are content to enjoy spa sessions and absorb the therapeutic qualities of a lazy afternoon. A short wander through the pedestrian heart of town passes shopfronts and cafes for whiling away more time. In the evenings there are opportunities for old-style dancing. Children may enjoy the little 'train' which runs along the road between Abano and its neighbour Montegrotto Terme. The more active will be pleased with the opportunities for cycling; there are many cycle routes laid out along the wide flat streets of town.

During the summer season Abano puts on a range of events for its visitors, from concerts to Wild West shows. Among the most prestigious of these is a dance festival, Abano Danza, which has featured Carla Fracci and members of the ballet company of the Teatro dell'Opera in Rome.

Relaxing outside a hotel

Thermal springs and treatments

Hotels in Abano Terme offer a range of spa and mud treatments, with their own thermal pools. It's their main attraction for visitors, so when you're choosing a hotel it's worth comparing what facilities and treatments they offer, and reading the reviews of past guests. You may pay extra to use the hotels' facilities.

Around Abano Terme

Abano Terme is joined to the neighbouring settlement of Montegrotto Terme, a very similar spa town. Montegrotto has its own shopping streets and railway station, an archaeological zone where Roman ruins can be viewed from the street, and a butterfly farm/exhibition. Within a reasonable walk of the two towns is the Monastero di San Daniele (open 10.30-12 and 3-5pm, closed Sundays, admission free), a Benedictine monastery on a low hill. Active visitors can explore the Regional Park of the Colli Euganei (Euganean Hills), the rounded wooded hills which are visible from town. The area is dotted with interesting settlements, gardens and castles, some of which are reachable by public transport. The tourist information offices in Abano Terme and Montegrotto Terme have lots of useful information (in several languages including English) about tourist sights in the area. They even produce detailed pamphlets of scenic walks and footpaths in the hills, although you may need a hire-car or taxi to reach the start of some of these. There is also a wine road around the hills, the Strada del Vino dei Colli Euganei.

Abano is well-placed for day trips to nearby towns such as Padua and Venice. Although it's not such a good base for city sightseeing as those towns, Abano does have reasonable transport links and the advantages of peace, spas and the hills.

Abano Terme transport

Abano is just a few miles from Padua and there are frequent buses between the two towns, a 35-minute journey. Approximately half of the bus services also stop in Montegrotto Terme. Timetables are displayed on bus stops and are available from the tourist information office. For tourists travelling by rail, the principal station for the area is called Terme Euganee and is located in the centre of Montegrotto Terme (a bus ride from Abano). Direct trains from Venice, Padua, Bologna and other Italian towns stop at Terme Euganee. A few trains also stop at little Abano station which is in the countryside some way from the town centre.

A hire-car is helpful if you want to see much of the area and the hills, although many visitors rely on bicycles to get around the town, which has lots of clearly-marked cycle lanes.

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On this site

Italy spa resorts

Padua tourist attractions

Venice




Useful external links

Abano Terme hotels

Colli Euganei (Euganean Hills) Regional Park (in Italian)

Strada del Vino Colli Euganei (in Italian)

Italy car hire

Butterfly Arc




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