Abano Terme is a spa resort in the Veneto region of north-east Italy, close to Padua, on the eastern slope of the Colli Euganei; it is 10 kilometres (6 mi) southwest by rail from Padua. The town’s hot springs and mud baths are an important economic resource. The waters have a temperature of about 80 °C (176 °F).
Abano 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.
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.
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.
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.
Thermal springs and treatments
The baths were known to the Romans as Aponi fons or Aquae Patavinae. A description of them is given in a letter to Theodoric, the king of the Ostrogoths, from Cassiodorus. Some remains of the ancient baths have been discovered (S. Mandruzzato, Trattato dei Bagni d’Abano, Padua, 1789). An oracle of Geryon lay near, and the so-called sortes Praenestinae (C.I.L. i., Berlin, 1863; 1438–1454), small bronze cylinders inscribed, and used as oracles, were perhaps found here in the 16th century.
The baths were destroyed by the Lombards in the 6th century, but they were rebuilt and enlarged when Abano became an autonomous comune in the 12th century and, again, in the late 14th century. The city was under the Republic of Venice from 1405 to 1797.
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.
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.See hotels and SPA treatments here