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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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Modern Age

From 1405, the Serenissima took the complete politic control of the mainland: in the Euganean territory, this event brought to a widespread presence of rich Venetian families, who owned wide land plots and settled in desirable residences, villas and palaces – mainly inhabited in the summertime. At the same time, also churches and monasteries came under Venetian control, as it is attested by the Bull of Pius II: in 1461, all the possessions of the Benedictine Abbazia di San Daniele in Monte at Abano Terme included the Molino del Montirone passed to the Venetian congregation of the Canonici regolari di S. Salvatore.

L’Abbazia benedettina di San Daniele in Monte ad Abano

Several drainage interventions were carried on throughout the territory, all along subject to swamping; on the other hand, thermal bathing establishments had partially lost their importance, and were often rented – as it is attested by a Venetian letter dating back to 1554 and addressed to the “Riformatori dello Studio di Padova” (the University of the time), charged with the task of recovering the ancient “Bagni d’Abbano” from their state of neglect.

In 1623, the renewed interest for the Euganean thermal area is witnessed by Angelo Portenari’s work, “Della felicità di Padova”, where the author draws up a list and describes the water springs of the territory, their peculiarities, their therapeutic potential, and the annexed structures.

Thermae Aponenses in agro patavino: rappresentazione del bacino termale aponense di Francesco Bertelli (XVII secolo)


The most ancient representation of Abano’s health resort dates back to the mid-17th century, within Francesco Bertelli’s view “Thermae Aponenses in agro patavino”: here, steaming sources, churches and villas, as well as public facilities (e.g. the Molino del Montirone), baths, a big public pool (“Bagno Comun”) and a structure aimed at welcoming visitors (“Osteria di Abano”), are depicted with great vividness; the picture is filled with wayfarers, bathers, working people and animals, while a dog and a donkey are pleasantly visible in the foreground.


New scientific and medical interests

In past times, this thermal territory was widely well-known and attended by doctors, such as Pietro d’Abano and Giovanni Dondi (Francesco Petrarca’s doctor) in the 14th century, or Michele Savonarola in the 15th century; the medical and scientific interest increased from the 16th century on, when a treatise on the general situation of thermalism in Italy (“De balneis”, 1553) was firstly published.

Copertina del Libretto d'opera 'I Bagni di Abano' di Carlo Goldoni tratto da Opere teatrali, Venezia, Antonio Zatta, 1794

Thanks to the proximity of Padua and its University, research concerning Euganean thermal area multiplied in the 17th and 18th century; in particular, we should mention Domenico Vandelli, doctor, pharmacologist and naturalist, author of a treatise – published in Padua in 1761 – where the several water springs of the area and their own peculiarities are precisely described. Following an intervention that brought to light both the strong potential of thermal water exploitation and the state of neglect of the already existing structures, another Venetian letter dating from 1767 focused attention on the necessity of recovering the ancient glory of the site. In this context of great interest for the Euganean thermal area, historical and cultural studies also increased: even the Venetian author Carlo Goldoni, in 1753, wrote a comedy entitled “I bagni di Abano”.
From that time on, facilities and road condition were improved, while the research was geared towards a greater knowledge of the territory and its far-off past. In this regard, it is essential to remember the treatise “De’ bagni di Abano”, which gives us a detailed description – also from a graphic perspective – of Euganean territory between the end of 18th and the beginning of 19th century; this monumental work was written by Salvatore Mandruzzato, doctor and supporter of archaeological excavations. Land and water springs were by that time in the hands of few Venetian and Paduan families, such as Dondi dell’Orologio, Morosini, Todeschini, Trieste, whose aim was to exploit at the utmost the thermal resource, and who commissioned the realization of imposing accommodation facilities – also availing of the services of Giuseppe Jappelli, one of the greatest architects of that period. Euganean thermal area was by then so important that even the Austrian emperor Francis I visited Abano on 20th August 1825, as it is attested by the celebratory monumental complex of Montirone.

Il Montirone e gli storici Alberghi Trieste Vittoria e Reale Orologio

The Euganean thermal area today

From that moment on, Euganean Hills were the object of drastic and chaotic interventions, aimed at the exploitation of thermal water; as a matter of fact, nowadays this resort counts more than 120 hotels. In the urban fabric of the Euganean thermal area, currently spread between the two townships of Abano and Montegrotto Terme, we can still recognize the traces of a settlement that evolved as time went by, and at the same time continued to keep its permanent and close relationship with the presence of thermal springs – today accessible only through deep wells. The peculiarities of this water, whose therapeutic potential is internationally acknowledged, make this area one of the most reputed and popular thermal centres all over Europe: a place where history has left its traces all around, uninterruptedly from 1st millennium B.C. to present times.