The “volcanic” Euganean (Venetian) Hills

The regular cones of the Euganean Hills stand out like an archipelago on the horizon of Veneto’s stretch of the Po Valley. There are about a hundred hills, none over 601 metres (Mount Venda) in height but the locals refer to them as “mountains”.

In 1989 it was decided to safeguard this unique landscape with a regional park and the “Parco Regionale dei Colli Euganei” was founded.

The Euganean Hills were formed by the effect of two distinct volcanic periods and the terrains now found as outcrops consist of hard volcanic rock cones alternating with flat areas of crumblier sedimentary limestone.

Historical and archaeological traces of early Veneto civilization suggest that the positive climatic conditions on the Euganean Hills meant the vine grew here as early as Iron Age. Later, in Roman times, Martial mentions the Euganean region of Elicaonis, now called Calaone, decked with vine shoots (M.V. Martialis Lib. 10 ep. 93).
Following the devastation brought by the barbarian invasions, viticulture regressed and almost disappeared. It was not until the feudal age, when demand grew for wine, that Count Alberto of Baone began the revival of viticulture and restored the hills to their former glory.

A Hint of History

Year of the Lord 1192

It should be known, therefore, that the most noble Alberto, Count of Baone, a very rich citizen of Padua . . . bought a splendid pair of young vines and once they were planted on Mount Baone they grew nicely . . . and not only vineyards but also olives and other fruit trees cover these slopes intensely, providing the town with such delicate oil and producing grapes and fruit of every kind in such abundance, sufficient not only for Padua, but also with amounts that reach Venice [ Angelo Portenari – Della felicità di Padova 1623 ]

Our next history lesson is more recent but still a long time past, and tells us that the Euganean Hills were home to Bordeaux varieties, mainly cabernet, from about 1870, which is why we are happy to consider this variety a native, considering how well it has adapted to the area.

The Counts Corinaldi at Lispida

In the province of Padua, many landowners grow cabernet but only on the hill areas of the province itself. The Counts Corinaldi have been growing the variety at their Lispida estates for over thirty years, namely from the time of their first vineyards, planted on the Euganean Hills. In the experimental vineyard at this winery, of the red grape varieties, cabernet gave the best results so much so that production of wood was increased for the new vineyards to be installed, which are still on American rootstock . . . On the Euganean Hills, cabernet takes root easily and develops with prompt and regular production . . . The price of cabernet grapes is about one-third higher than that of local grapes, even of the best kind.
[Salvatore Mondini – Vitigni stranieri da vino coltivati in Italia 1903]