“When you walk on the stones of Piazza San Marco, you are walking on our hills,” says Count Giordano Emo Capodilista, who coined the simple term ‘Venetian Hills’ to promote his winery, La Montecchia, located in the Colli Euganei, the tongue-twisting volcanic hills just 40 km outside Venice. Since the eighth century B.C., the ancient Venetian people worshipped the hot springs that bubbled up from the sacred waters, later inspiring Julius Caesar to make it a Roman municipium. Up popped palaces, bathing pools, gardens, parks and villas, creating a spa culture whose revitalizing spirit permeates Venice and the Venetian Hills to this day.
Spa Hotel Ai Reali
Spas in Venice
In a town where installing a lift is a challenge, Venetian ingenuity has found creative ways to blend spa culture into the ancient city by transforming monumental structures into luxury hotels. When Palazzo Rizzo-Patarol was built in the 16th century, the Madonna dell’Orto district was cropland, enabling the palace’s vast romantic garden to stretch far to the edge of the lagoon. Formerly the embassy of France and Savoy, these days the majestic mansion is home to Hotel Boscolo Venezia, whose Wellness & Spa centre features classic treatments, plus jacuzzi, sauna and steam rooms.
Palazzo Papadopoli, the famed 16th century Baroque-style palace on the Grand Canal where the Clooneys wed, contains a secret oasis: the Aman Venice Spa, featuring exclusive treatments with products from the underground reservoir of Salsomaggiore Terme, once a prehistoric sea in what is now the Po Valley, brimming with fossil-rich thermal water and mineral salt known as white gold.
Aman Venice Spa
Smack in the heart of Venice, minutes from the Rialto Bridge, Palazzo Gussoni is a 17th century Renaissance palace that morphed into Hotel Ai Reali in 2013. On the top floor is the Reali Wellness Spa, complete with Jacuzzi, sauna, steam and emotional showers, as well as treatments influenced by the Orient, plus a striking view from the rooftop terrace.
Inaugurated in 1907, the Liberty style Grand Hotel Ausonia & Hungaria on the Lido boasts one of the largest majolica facades in Europe. Today, freshly restored, it is also the home of Lanna Gaia, a rejuvenation centre staffed by highly-skilled therapists from the Lanna region of Thailand, deeply spiritual people who specialize in balancing elements and unblocking personal energy with their graceful, powerful hands.
Grand Hotel Ausonia & Hungaria
The 19th century neo-Gothic Molino Stucky was once a thriving flour mill on the island of Giudecca. In 2007, it transformed into a Hilton Hotel, with contemporary facilities fit for a First Lady – Michelle Obama & company stayed there last June. The eforea Spa treatment menu is served up with a Venetian touch, and comes complete with sauna, steam, hydro massage and relaxation area.
Euganean Spas and Abano Terme
From the Venice lagoon, you can see a range of round, sensual hills in the distance. These are the Colli Euganei, volcanic hills whose hot, mineral-rich waters travel from the foothills of the Alps, deep through the subsoil, and arrive after about 25 years into the Euganean spa basin -- the only one of its kind in the world.
These days, the waters bursting with geothermal energy and the European-patented mud have been officially certified by the Italian government for the treatment of chronic inflammatory and degenerative diseases, and Abano Terme has become one of the most famous spa resorts in Europe.