Surrounded by the Euganean hills an hour from Venice, Abano is a spa town like no other. Fango, a medicinal mud dug from the hills, is the main attraction. More than 135 hotels in the valley offer fango treatments for arthritis, rheumatism, osteoporosis, gout, and sciatica. Doctors use mud therapy for patients recuperating from surgery and accidents. Mixed with hot thermal mineral spring water to simmer and mature in open-air vats, fango’s ingredients include algae, minerals, and trace elements. It’s as natural a cure for aches and pains as you can find.
Following a routine prescribed by the hotel’s resident doctor, fango treatments are relaxing and help to sweat out toxins. The mud is spread on linen sheets by a fanghini therapist, who tucks you in and then applies a cool cloth to your sweating brow. The warm mud opens pores, allowing heat and minerals to penetrate the body. With little to do but meditate, think about the Romans who discovered this place, named aponus from the Greek for “to relieve pain.” Legend says temples to Hercules were built here, and some archeological sites have been excavated in the center of town.
The doges of Venice had villas in the valley, and Lord Byron visited in the 1800s. Just when you feel stuck in the mud, it’s time to shower off and soak in a bathtub full of bubbling ozonated mineral water. Following a rest period and massage, you’re ready for breakfast.
A personal program is planned by a coordinator at the hotel. First, your heart is checked and medical condition discussed with a staff doctor. Contraindications: Fango is not allowed for pregnant women and people with certain medical conditions. Diet and nutrition complement the cure program, and consultation can be arranged to set up special meals. Alternative therapies also are discussed by the doctor before you begin a “cure.” Recommended for best benefits: twelve-day stay with daily treatments.
At the five-star Grand Hotel Terme Abano, traditional fango cures mix with today’s spa trends in beauty and well-being. Set in landscaped, semitropical gardens, the hotel has an atmosphere of elegance and exclusivity. Crystal chandeliers, marble floors, and Oriental rugs decorate the lobby. Created by the privately held GB Hotels Group and managed by the Borile family, this is more than a hotel. Two floors are dedicated to health and beauty. Separate from the fango department and not requiring medical supervision, one floor is devoted entirely to beauty treatments. All guests have access to the fitness equipment, gymnasium, steam room, and huge sauna designed to resemble a mountainside grotto.
Excursions by private bus are scheduled, and the hotel has bicycles for guided trips in the region. Concerts in the town garden and opera evenings at the hotel are free of charge.
Accommodations: 189 rooms, twelve junior suites, and eight suites. Some are nonsmoking. All have balcony, full modern bathroom with tub and shower, hair dryer, decorated in marble. Furnished with antique reproductions, rooms are air-conditioned, have TV, telephone, spacious closet, linens and robes by Frette.
Meals: Full board includes breakfast buffet with eggs to order; lunch and dinner in the main dining room. Health menu at no extra charge, based on 1,000 calories.
Facilities: Thirty-three private rooms for fango thermal therapy; beauty salon; gymnasium; two outdoor swimming pools (one with whirlpool and jets) with thermal mineral water; indoor swimming pool and whirlpool; Kneipp water walk; sauna grotto; steam room.
Services & Special Programs: Massage, shiatsu, Thai massage, facial mud pack, inhalation therapy, ayurvedic scalp treatment, lymphatic drainage, hydromassage. Programs include antistress, anticellulite, body firming.
Getting There: By car from Milan, Autostrada (highway) A-4, exit Padua west. By train to Terme Euganee or Padua stations; taxi, car rental, or bus. Nearest airport: Venice.
What’s Nearby: Four championship 18-hole golf courses; Venice, Verona, Padua; Palladio’s Vicenza villas.