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The History

Discover the origin of the ‘Aquae Patavinae’ and the history of the Euganean thermal area...

 

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The Aquae Patavinae Project

The enhancement project

The project of enhancement of the Euganean thermal area arises from the synergy among the Soprintendenza per i Beni Archeologici del Veneto, the Università degli Studi di Padova and the township of Montegrotto; this cooperation has allowed to carry out the research into a wide area (townships of Montegrotto Terme, Abano Terme, Galzignano Terme, Torreglia, Arquà Petrarca), working out at the same time an organic proposal for the public enjoyment of the archaeological sites of Terme Neroniane Hotel (residential structure and pools) and via degli Scavi. This proposal has been made possible thanks to the funds of Arcus S.p.A., Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio di Padova e Rovigo, Regione del Veneto, Università degli Studi di Padova, Ministero dell’Istruzione, dell’Università e della Ricerca Scientifica (PRIN – Project of Relevant National Interest on “Thermalism in ancient times”).

Il logo del Progetto ispirato al pavimento in ‘opus sectile’
della villa romana di via Neroniana

A particular care has been reserved to communication aspects, by means of thematic paths and a website – where the whole of the information and documentation concerning the investigated area, in a diachronic way from prehistory to modern times, comes together.
The project also foresees the realization of the Thermalism Museum.

The scientific project

The first phases of the research have been marked by the direct commitment of the Soprintendenza per i Beni Archeologici del Veneto, which worked under the Terme Neroniane Hotel and in Turri, and of the Università degli Studi di Padova, which worked at wide area of via Neroniana, already object of study in the 1980s. The ruins that have been brought to light have highlighted once again Montegrotto’s archaeological potential, town that could already boast the relevant site of via degli Scavi, excavated and partially enhanced in the Sixties.

Our work has then continued in the prospect of the creation of a archaeological park, where all the monumental complexes of the area are inserted and contextualized in the fabric of the city; these sites have an autonomous significance and visibility, but they can acquire an even more unexpected potentiality in the context of the urban and territorial qualification/requalification (with consequent important effects on tourism) if connected in an organic path and supported by a cultural project.

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In this perspective, the area concerned in our research – townships of Montegrotto Terme, Abano Terme, Torreglia, Arquà Petrarca, Galzignano Terme, Battaglia Terme – has been investigated employing all the means at our disposal (historical and epigraphic sources, archives; bibliographic data; collection of historical cartography; reading and interpretation of aerial views and satellite photos; Li.D.A.R.; land surveys, and so on).. The analysis has been carried out with a multi-disciplinary approach, directed to systematize the numerous values of the project, and to highlight the sides worthy of enhancement; one of the most relevant aspects is the uninterrupted use of the thermal resource, still today the head activity for the economic development of the area.

This first phase of study has allowed not only the reconstruction of the land occupational dynamics in a diachrony that goes from the 3rd millennium B.C. to nowadays, but also the acknowledgement of the natural richness of the area. The final data have resulted in thematic maps, where both the archaeological sites worthy of enhancement and the places object of occasional, quite significant discoveries have been properly indicated. Contemporaneously, the whole of ancient and recent bibliography, , with a particular attention to the documentation concerning the years of the great archaeological discoveries, has been gathered in order to piece together all the available information.

Archaeology and landscape

As for the historical/archaeological sphere, the work has come along with the repositioning of the sites on geo-referenced maps, and with the gathering of the documentation (bibliographic, graphic, photographic and textual) concerning each archaeological context; at the same time, Euganean thermalism has been studied from a synchronic (comparing the peculiarities of the Euganean area with the features of other Roman thermal areas) and a diachronic (following the phases of thermal exploitation from ancient times till now) point of view. Thanks to this approach, we have been able to define the planning choices regarding the work phases worthy of enhancement.

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The archaeological documentation has been complemented bygeologic, geomorphologic and hydrologic analysis, aimed at the understanding of soil nature, peculiarity of waters and their positioning – subject to changes from ancient times up till now.

Landscape features have then been analysed and assessed: since the concerned archaeological sites are located inside or at the edge of the Parco Regionale dei Colli Euganei, this study, besides contributing to the awareness of the context, has opened up new prospects as for the chance of linking our archaeological paths to the naturalistic paths pertaining to the Parco Regionale. The precious analysis on animal and plant remainsfound during the excavations has allowed the reconstruction – even if for limited areas – of local flora and fauna in proto-historical and historical age.

In the drafting of this enhancement project, it has afterwards been taken into account the communication system of the park – both external (road and railway connections; access points; parking places) and internal (naturalistic paths, rest areas, etc.) – , in order to bind the interventions aimed at public enjoyment to the context. Since the concerned archaeological sites are located into densely built-up areas (Montegrotto and Abano), the town planning analysis has been necessary in order to take into account the impact that the opening of visit trails (creation of access and observation points, location of informative boards in the major sites) could have on inhabitants’ circulation and quality of life. This analysis has arisen important suggestions about the positioning of access points, the location of possible panoramic points, the form and typology of the roofing (essential for those sites located in northern cold climates, not only for the safeguard of the remains, but also for their public enjoyment all year round), the proper positioning of informative boards (helpful to visitors to get information about archaeological sites – even buried or destroyed).

The project also foresees the realization of the Thermalism Museum.

Communication

The already planned visit trails currently start from the Terme Euganee/Abano/Montegrotto train station, where visitors can find basic information about paths and sites at the “Aquae Patavinae” Informative Point ). During the route, visitors will find informative boards iin Italian, German and English language, located in each archaeological site; by means of plans, reconstructions and photos, the boards relate the vicissitudes of these ancient monumental complexes.

The conclusions of studies and research carried out in these years can be found in the records of various congresses that took place at the Università degli Studi di Padova in the years 2010 and 2011; their scientific edition is currently in preparation.

Management

After having outlined the peculiarities of the archaeological park, its specific targets of safeguarding and enhancement, and the interventions indispensable to ensure a wide and conscious enjoyment, a proper management schedule will be drawn up, choosing among the different cases provided for the law (D.Lgs. 42/2004, art. 115) the most suitable for the needs of the place.

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The management schedule will have to take into account not only those aspects concerning the routine administration (maintenance, restoration, conservation of archaeological sites, website updating, etc.), but also a plan for the promotion of the structure (organisation of activities pertaining to the context of the park and/or events, such as temporary exhibitions, lectures, theatre performances, etc.), in order to attract both residents and tourists of the Euganean thermal area.

The management programme will also have to determine the priority interventions, the implemental formalities, the organization chart, and a managerial figure with archaeological competence; moreover, it will be necessary to present the statement of income and expenses, with an estimate for at least a three or five-year period. As a matter of fact, the validity of the management schedule is a prerequisite for the inclusion of the park in the list approved by the Italian Ministry.

The management of the three archaeological areas is entrusted to Associazione Lapis Archeologia-Storia-Arte-Ricerca (+39 3890235910, lapisarcheologia@gmail.com).

Financing boards

The project has been financed by Arcus S.p.A. (society for the development of Art, Culture and Entertainment), Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio di Padova e Rovigo, Regione del Veneto, Università degli Studi di Padova, Ministero dell’Istruzione, dell’Università e della Ricerca (PRIN – Project of Relevant National Interest on “Thermalism in ancient times”).