Everyone needs a break from the crowds and just 30 minutes by train from Venice are the rolling volcanic hills of the Colli Euganee. Since the time of the Romans, the towns of Montegrotto and Abano have been famous for their mud bath spas – bubbling hot ‘fango’, immense swimming pools with healing thermal water, aqua jet massages, jacuzzis, sauna and steam baths. The Hotel Terme Apollo is a relaxing three-star family-run hotel where guests are pampered throughout the day, then treated to delicious local cuisine and a stellar selection of wines at affordable prices that are irresistible. For a more luxurious stay there is the legendary Grand Hotel Trieste & Victoria while the fashionable Milan crowd, footballers and athletes checking in to treat injuries with the magical ‘fangotherapy’ like to be seen at the chic Spa Relilax while locals from nearby Padova and Venice meet up at the weekend at the friendly Terme Preistoriche
The Euganean Hills are not just about detox, though. You can explore Palladian-style villas, renaissance abbeys and castles, and there is a picturesque wine route through the Unesco World Heritage Vineyards where ‘viticoltori’ are producing increasingly high quality ‘volcanic wines’. At Maeli try the unique, fruity Fior d’Arancio made with the Moscato Giallo grape, while Vignalta are the pioneer winemakers for signature reds – Cabernet and Merlot
At the end of a weekend of mud treatments and massage, vino and generous portions of la cucina italiana, everyone heads home totally relaxed. Maybe this is what a spa holiday should really be about – not hip or design, New Age of holistic – just an old-fashioned ‘terme’, little changed from Roman times
Click on the slideshow for a trip through the Euganean Hills…………….