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Earth and Water Magic - Therapeutic Mud and Thermal Waters of Northern Italy

In the below zero winter of Northern Italy, I returned to my old home in the Padua Region of Veneto.  Just 3km away, Abano Terme, a famous spa town known for its unique thermal waters and therapeutic mud treatments, has been used for centuries.  It is the oldest and largest area of springs in Italy and attracts visitors from all over the world seeking relaxation, wellness, and therapeutic treatments.

The thermal water in Abano Terme comes from a natural aquifer located at a depth of about 1,000 meters (3,300 feet). The water is rich in minerals, including calcium, magnesium, potassium, and sodium, which are believed to have therapeutic properties.

Treatment Process:

The thermal water is extracted from the aquifer and then undergoes a treatment process to make it suitable for use in various applications, such as:

  1. Decarbonation: The water is passed through a decarbonation tank to remove carbon dioxide, which helps to prevent scaling and corrosion.

  2. Filtration: The water is filtered to remove impurities and sediment.

  3. Chlorination: Chlorine is added to the water to disinfect and prevent bacterial growth.

  4. pH Adjustment: The pH level of the water is adjusted to a comfortable range for human  use.

  5. Oxygenation: Oxygen is added to the water to enhance its therapeutic properties. 

Every morning, at 5:45am for 2 weeks, my Russian neighbour Anastasia and I would travel through the frosty, misty, dark roads of the Galzignano Terme hills chatting.  I would correct her English and she would correct my Italian, much to her husband dismay. 

The Fango treatment (don’t say funghi -mushrooms, or you will get something else), also known as "fango therapy" or "mud therapy," is a traditional treatment that involves applying warm (scorching hot is better), fermented black mud from the local hot springs to the skin.  You stay wrapped in canvas for 20-30 minutes then the therapist washes you down with the equivalent of a fire hose.       

Next you soak 10-15 minutes in highly concentrated private mineral bath.  We would meet in the outdoor thermal swimming pools, which was so beautiful.  You are floating in hot water and the mist created because of the cold gave it an ethereal setting.  Then time permitting we would sauna, steam and sometimes go to the relaxation rooms.  Add a massage or facial or two and the world was a different place.  Sometimes we even had the luxury of having breakfast with the hotel guests before adding the 6 layers for the -3 to -6 degrees out side.  

Anastasia would go to work and I would study, in between sleeping about 14 hours a day.  I am not sure whether is was the detox affect, the fresh mountain air, the blackout window coverings or being back staying with my dear friend Anna, but I slept like a baby.  I scared myself how relaxed and slow I was and how much sleep I had.  Anna would say to me in Italian “You are going to bed with the Roosters”. 


The combination of thermal mud and mineral-rich water can provide an even more effective detoxification process than either treatment alone.

  • With Increased absorption of minerals and Deep relaxation: The combination of warmth, moisture, and mineral-rich water can create a deeply relaxing experience that promotes overall well-being.

  • Unique Mineral Composition: The thermal water in Abano Terme is rich in minerals, with a high concentration of calcium, magnesium, and potassium. These minerals are believed to have therapeutic properties that can help alleviate various health conditions.

  • Alkaline pH: The water has an alkaline pH, which is higher than the pH of regular water. This unique characteristic makes it particularly beneficial for people with skin conditions or digestive issues.

  • High Temperature: The thermal water in Abano Terme flows out of the earth at a temperature of around 60°C (140°F), making it one of the hottest thermal waters in Italy.

  • Rich in Carbon Dioxide: The water is rich in carbon dioxide, which is believed to have beneficial effects on the skin and respiratory system.

  • Therapeutic Properties: The thermal water is used for therapeutic treatments, such as baths, massages, and mud therapy, to alleviate conditions like arthritis, rheumatism, and skin disorders.

  • Eldorado Complex: The thermal water is part of the Eldorado Complex, a unique geological system that spans over 10 km (6.2 miles) underground. This complex is considered one of the most extensive and complex thermal systems in Europe.

  • Natural Balneotherapy: The thermal water in Abano Terme is used for natural balneotherapy, a form of therapy that involves immersing the body in the hot water to promote relaxation and healing.

  • Rich History: The thermal water has been used therapeutically for centuries, with evidence of its use dating back to ancient Roman times.

  • Conservation Efforts: To preserve the natural resources and maintain the quality of the thermal water, the town has implemented conservation efforts, such as protecting the surrounding forest and monitoring water flow.

NB: Remember to always consult with a healthcare professional before using thermal mud or mineral baths, especially if you have any underlying medical conditions or concerns.

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