The Italian Spa Town of Abano Terme

by Evelyn Theiss

Floating is bliss in the Pool Soleil

A journey to the source of healing, at Abano Terme, a traditional Italian spa town

Abano Terme is a tranquil, elegant Italian spa town, situated at the base of the Euganean Hills, in the province of Padua. The town’s hotels nestle along a broad central boulevard and charming streets that are open only to pedestrians.

The draw remains the same as what it was in ancient times—the healing local thermal springs. When combined with the mineral-infused earth (courtesy of volcanic ash), it forms the healing mud that Italians call fango.

The crown jewel of Abano Terme’s spa hotels is the Abano Grand Hotel, one of five hotels in town owned by the Borile family, whose history is inextricably linked to fango. This five-star luxury property, with its Louis XV decor, is set apart on six verdant acres, with olive trees, palm trees and tropical plants.

Back in the 1970s, Aldo Borile became a pioneer in spa culture when he created special extraction pumps to collect the thermal spring waters, as well as the mud that was known by Roman emperors to have therapeutic properties. Today, the holding tanks that form a “mud farm” behind the hotel, supply the spa with the steaming fango, which is cooled to a comfortable level before it is slathered on in treatment rooms.

A visit to the Abano Grand begins with a thorough exam by a doctor, one that includes a blood test. This is designed to assess your health and determine which treatments will be most therapeutic for you, and to address any chronic conditions. (She will also advise you on diet, exercise and other therapies to continue at home.)

abano terme

The therapeutic Fango ritual

Some treatments are good for nearly everyone, including the Kneipp bath that is so welcome after a long flight. A rectangular grouping of small pools is filled with icy cold, as well as warm, water and the aim is to walk several rounds. The continuous change in temperature stimulates blood flow for allover health; it also dramatically reduces post-flight swelling and fatigue.

The Kneipp pool is adjacent to the Abano Grand’s three large connected indoor and outdoor swimming pools, which are also filled with thermal water.

The treatment menu at the Abano Grand’s 50,000-square-foot spa is vast, and it includes a special anti-aging treatment with mud fango enriched with algae. This creates a thermal mousse that is anti-oxidative, activates the metabolism and promotes lymphatic drainage.

Abano Terme is less than an hour from Venice, making it the perfect home base from which to explore that storied city. Don’t be surprised, though, if tearing yourself away from the spa property for even a day is more difficult than you’d expect.

Instead, you could take a half day to explore nearby Padua. A visit to the University of Padua’s Botanical Garden—created in 1545, it was the world’s first—will further convince you just how effective plants are as a source of healing. The Abano Grand Hotel and its sister spas are centers of a kind of healing that goes far beyond relaxation. gbhotelsabano.it

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