The Euganean Hills Cycle Ring

Americans call them the “hills of Venice,” the English poet Shelley called them “islands without a sea”: these are the Euganean Hills, ancient volcanoes now at rest that emerge from the Po Valley like round green peaks. A precious land, beloved over the centuries by men of letters and nobles, a treasure trove of hermitages, castles, abbeys, Venetian villas, navigable canals and ancient hamlets, but also of a rich nature that combines biodiversity with carpets of vines that design the landscape.

TheEuganean Hills Cycle Ring is perhaps the best way to visit this area, discovering its beauty, flavors and traditions at the rhythm of the pedals.

Euganean Hills Ring

The Euganean Hills

The Euganean Hills offer landscapes and feelings in just a few kilometers, along a thread that runs from Petrarch, who spent the last years of his life here, to the centuries-old culture ofPraglia Abbey, to the ancient baths of Abano and Montegrotto. And while it is true that emotions need to be given time, the Euganean Hills should be traversed lightly and calmly, as bicycle tourists in search of authentic experiences know how to do.

The experience

Because that is what it is all about: an experience. Walking the 63 km of this loop means traversing in a short time everything that has made the Veneto the most visited region by foreign tourists: along lonely roads, just a few miles from the spas and art cities of the Veneto, we encounter medieval towns, villages, landscapes and Venetian villas, history and nature, traditions and modernity. And this is without fatigue, because the route is flat and varied, the kind you pedal mindlessly, allowing yourself to contemplate.

Euganean Hills Ring

The ring is developed within the Euganean Hills Natural Park and in this unmistakable geological setting nature shows itself in its richness, amidst important archaeological evidence and endless forests, in which, in the past, hermits and monks found peace – and it was not by chance – hermits and monks, still present today at theCamaldolese hermitage towering over Mt. Rua, visitable only by males.

How to travel the Euganean Hills itinerary

Since this is a loop route you can start from any point: those arriving by train can start the tour from the stations of Montegrotto Terme, Este or Monselice, but also start pedaling from the station in Padua.

Imagining starting in Abano Terme, the heart of one of Europe’s oldest spa areas, follow the markers, arriving shortly in Montegrotto Terme, where you can make an initial stop at Villa Draghi and the Museum of Thermalism. You then climb up the embankment of the waterway Battaglia, which Petrarch himself used to go to the city: here you cannot miss a visit to the Catajo Castle, a stone colossus designed to amaze, with 350 rooms and one of the largest and most spectacular fresco cycles of the late Venetian Renaissance.

Euganean Hills Ring

After Battaglia Terme, a detour is a must to see. Villa Barbarigo, in Valsanzibio: the designer of Versailles is said to have been inspired by his park, a magnificent example of a symbolic Baroque garden, born of Francesco Barbarigo’s promise to create a paradise on earth if his children were spared the plague. It was designed in the late 17th century by the papal architect and fountainmaker Luigi Bernini, brother of the more famous Gian Lorenzo.

Next stop, Monselice, which welcomes travelers to its charming historic center, perfect for a stop and a visit to the Castle and the nearby Seven Churches Jubilee Sanctuary promenade, overlooked by the medieval fortress.

Euganean Hills Ring

A few kilometers away is one of the most beautiful villages in Italy, Arquà Petrarca, named after the poet who lived here for a long time and where you can get lost in the narrow medieval streets. After Monselice we go into the southern part of the Hills to Este, with its Carrarese castle and beautiful cathedral. Also worth a stop is the town of Cinto Euganeo with the Cava Bomba Paleontological Museum, an interesting example of industrial archaeology recovery.

The vineyards of the Euganean Hills

You still pedal on the plain, but the panorama is never the same: here the light changes, the vegetation changes, and the view widens to the Berici Hills. The area of the great wines of the Hills, the reds and Moscato Fior D’Arancio, The area of the great wines of the Hills: the many wineries open their doors to visitors, allowing them to combine the pleasure of discovery with that of the table.

Euganean Hills Ring

In Lozzo Atestino, the cycle route circumnavigates the mountain of the same name, allowing you to reach the 13th-century Castello di Valbona. After a short while, we climb Mount Sereo, the only climb of the route, which offers magnificent views of the Euganean and Berici Hills. Having conquered the summit, 70 meters above sea level, the road has a short flat section before plunging toward the Frassanelle golf course. We skirt it for a few hundred meters until we reach the Rialto drainage, which accompanies us to the starting point, passing by Praglia Abbey, an authentic Renaissance jewel and an important Benedictine spiritual center, still active today and also famous for its medicinal herbs.

And from here it’s back to Abano or Montegrotto, where you can end the experience by soaking in the famous thermal waters.

The ring can be experienced as a day trip or as a short vacation proposal, combining the bicycle with a spa wellness stay, a visit to archaeological museums, Venetian villas and historic centers.