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A Spa Treasure Close to Venice


Olive oil facial and mint foot cream...

The sun in Italy was intense this summer so another morning I chose an olive oil facial to cleanse, nourish and rehydrate my skin. At the same time, I received a bonus foot treatment designed to cool and ease a "tourist's tired tootsies." A mint and eucalyptus cream was massaged into my feet and then they were covered in tinfoil.

"H-m-m-m-m," I thought. "Wonder what this is all about?"

While the esthetician worked wonders on my face, I could feel my fatigued feet begin to tingle and their temperature begin to drop and drop and drop. By the time my facial was complete both my face and my feet felt wonderfully cool and rejuvenated. How's that for Italian spa magic?

 Food, food, food...

All meals were included in the hotel plan I chose. Think gorgeous, freshly prepared Italian food and lovely Italian wines that compliment the menu. Imagine a formal dining room - crystal chandeliers, red velvet drapes, pristine white tablecloths and red upholstered chairs. Each meal was an occasion.

Like all the other guests, I was assigned a table and the same male server for the duration of my stay. Dressed in formal black jacket, this lovely man must have been an Italian mama in another life. When I refused just one of the four or five courses he brought for me to taste, he'd moan, "Eat Signora - you will become too skinny." He made it hard not to "just try" mouth-watering choices like spaghetti with clams, veal parmesan, prosciutto and melon, lasagna, chicken cacciatore, salmon steak, prawns in tomato olive sauce and on and on and on.

Lunches and dinners began with an antipasta table that stretched the length of the dining room. They ended with a buffet feast containing over thirty different goodies including fresh fruit, yogurt, gelato, pecan pie, and tiramisu, a specialty of the Veneto region. If you still wanted more, a cheese and special dessert trolley was available. Groan!

I ate very well and played very hard leaving Hotel Trieste and Victoria the same weight as when I arrived. However, those women who would like to diet can enjoy many fresh salad choices and delicious low fat entrees planned to please the pickiest of calorie counters. It won't even be a hardship to watch your intake. But promise me you'll cheat just a tiny bit - you must try the chef's Saint Antonio Pound Cake and his fabulous chocolate profiteroles. You won't regret it!

 Out and about in town...

I loved the ambiance of Abano Terme. It is first and foremost a small Italian town with its spa resort identity coming second. That means that rather than offering many glitzy shops and bright lights to attract tourists, this community emphasizes Italian family life and Italian culture. It's great fun to observe.

The entrance to Hotel Trieste and Victoria is beautifully located right on the town's promenade and across from a large park. No cars are allowed in this section which leaves lots of space for strolling and people watching. From the oldest to the youngest many in the community use their bicycles to get around.

Shops are closed at noon so families can eat lunch together and then (during the summer) stay indoors to avoid the hottest mid-day sun. They reopen at 2:00 pm (in some cases 3:00 pm). It's quiet, peaceful and the pace is gentle to say the least.

The population is an aging one and grandmas in their black dresses and retired gents congregate in the park to chat and gossip. As you walk by you can sense their interest in you but no one ever approaches and a tourist is left alone to fully enjoy their town.

Up the street is the area's tourism office. They offer area maps and lots of info on evening events, outdoor operas, bus schedules and where to see what, when.

I loved to take a late afternoon or evening stroll, past the sculpture fountain depicting four females enjoying the healing waters of Abano. In that same area is another statue of a woman inscribed with the title , "A Tutte Le Mamme" ("For all Mothers").

If you feel like a sheltered bird's-eye-view, than find a spot on the Hotel Trieste and Victoria's outdoor terrace, order a glass of wine and enjoy the passing parade.

Further up the street one can stop to watch the outdoor chess match played on the town's giant outdoor set. Everybody from youngest to oldest gathers round to observe, keeping still so players can concentrate.

If you'd rather do your exploring by bike, you can take one of the hotel's fleet and burn off all the calories consumed at dinner time.

Look out for Ghiraldo's fine food store. It was enlightening to browse their shelves and I found several interesting, inexpensive gift items. Animal Crackers for the kiddies (under 2 euro), nicely packed small jars of jams for granny or your mom (under 5 euro) and fancy packages of Risotto Primavera for that man who keeps promising to cook dinner for you (under 5 euro).

What self-respecting spa town doesn't sell bathing suits and cover-ups? Abano Terme is no exception. Mid-summer shopping means a good variety of sale racks. The designs are absolutely wonderful and you don't have to be stick-thin to look good in them. Pack some extra euros and enjoy the bargains!

Want to check out the gelato scene? Stop in at the American Bar and Gelateria. There was always a line-up there.

If you're a market-going kind of Journeywoman, be sure to check out the town's market square (10-15 minute walk from the hotel) filled to overflowing with every imaginable item you'd ever need. I saw salad tongs, underwear, toys, hats, purses, sun dresses, sweaters, dishes, fruits, veggies, cheese, baby clothes, bras, fresh flowers and on and on and on. Check with your hotel concierge for the days and hours of operation. I enjoyed my time there thoroughly.  

 For further information...

Hotel Trieste and Victoria
Tel: +39/049/8669101

P.S. I was not the only English speaking person at the hotel. Many other visitors hailed from England, Canada, United States and even Australia. Very many, I learned, were regular devotees who visited Hotel Trieste and Victoria at least once a year.

This article has been independently researched by Journeywoman Online. We thank the Italian Government Tourist Board, Rail Europe and Alitalia for sponsoring this female-friendly information. Together it is our aim to inspire women to visit Italy and to travel safely and well.

Italian Government Tourist Board
Rail Europe




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