Monday, 27 January 2014

Exploring the Euganean Hills

Sometimes in Venice I crave real nature and want to see some idyllic country life, so a few days ago I decided to spend half a day in the Euganean Hills, lying a few kilometres south of Padua. The area is also a regional park, and it's dotted with agriturismi (restaurants that offer food that's locally produced) and bed & breakfasts. The Euganean Hills are also renowned for products like wine, honey, olive oil, and brodo di giuggiole (a liquor made with jujube fruits). To explore this region I took a train from Venice to Monselice (47 minutes) for €4,75 one way.

Euganean Hills
Euganean Hills near Arquà Petrarca

In Monselice there are some medieval fortifications, a tower and a castle perched on a hill. Unfortunately, when I visited it was winter, and the castle was closed, so I can't tell you if it's worth going in. In Monselice you have a magnificent view over the surrounding plain and the hills. There are also examples of architecture from other periods: villa Nani-Mocenigo was for example built at the end of the 15th century, and Villa Duodo at the end of the 16th century. They were both owned by aristocratic Venetian families, and still today they are very scenic, even seen from the outside. There is even a monumental staircase with statues to give you an idea of the extravagance of these families. For the Duodo family, Vincenzo Scamozzi also built the Seven Churches Sanctuary, which later became a pilgrimage site.
Monselice (PD)
Castle of Monselice

Monselice (PD)
Statues at Villa Duodo

Staircase of Villa Nani
After having a look at Monselice, I took a long walk among the hills to reach another jewel of the area, the tiny village of Arquà Petrarca. It takes about one hour to reach it on foot, but the landscape is breathtaking. On the way I met many people on their bikes, hiking, or even horse-riding. Apparently it is not uncommon to do this passeggiata (walk) when the weather is nice. The road meanders through vineyards, farmsteads, and olive trees. Needless to say, it is beyond pleasant.

Colli Euganei
Euganean Hills between Monselice and Arquà Petrarca

Arquà Petrarca is an enchanting village, actually included in "I borghi più belli d'Italia", a list of the most beautiful Italian hamlets (I can't find a better word to translate borgo) . The place is famous because it hosts the house where the 14th-century poet Francesco Petrarca resided in the last years of his life, surrounded by olive trees and vineyards. Many famous people have visited the house, and the area, in the past centuries, including Lord Byron and Percy Bysshe Shelley. If you are visiting Colli Euganei, it is really worth paying a visit. The house itself is lovely, and it has some frescoes inside, as well as a small exhibition about the poet's life.

Casa del petrarca, Arquà Petrarca
The house of Petrarch

Arquà Petrarca (PD)
View from the balcony just before sunset
The village is pleasant even if you don't know much about Italian literature. Who said that you need to go to Tuscany to find peaceful and picturesque medieval villages where life seems  to have stopped?

Arquà Petrarca (PD)
Historical Arquà Petrarca

Arqua Petrarca
Arquà Petrarca

On the way back towards Monselice I saw a spectacular sunset: it encompassed all the colours from orange to pink and even violet. It was a short trip, but really rewarding. It was almost like travelling back in time, when the rhythms of life were slower...

Sunset among the vineyards, Euganean Hills
Sunset among the vineyards

Sunset Euganean Hills
Sunset again


  1. This place is absolutely worth exploring for the sake of its sunsets! Stunning. I can just imagine myself there!

  2. Amazing place! Euganean hills sound like my kind of a place. :) Love the mellow sunlight falling over the cobbled walls.

  3. This makes me a little bit homesick, even if I'm from the South of Italy and I've never been to Padua or to these stunning hills, this place and these photos really bring me back to Italy.

    1. Yes, I think this kind of landscape is the best Italy has to offer!


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