Eighty per cent of the Regional Park of the Euganean Hills is farmland. It is an entirely unique phenomenon, shaped over thousands of years by human activity. Vines were already being cultivated in these hills in the Iron Age, while the olive tree has been here since Roman times.

The park authority is responsible for guaranteeing and incentivising the production of high quality local specialities in order to foster the balanced development of the local economy.

D.O.C. WINES

A land of great vineyards, the Euganean Hills offer visitors no less than 13 fine DOC-certified (‘Controlled Designation of Origin’) wines, guaranteed by this special label since 1972.

These include: Bianco (featuring Garganega, Serprino, Tocai, Pinot Bianco, Riesling Italico, Pinello and Chardonnay), Fior D'Arancio (a local sweet yellow moscato), Moscato, Novello (Barbera, Cabernet, Merlot and Raboso), Pinello (a local variety blended in white wine), fine Pinot Bianco, Rosso, Serprino (another name for Prosecco), Tocai and French wines: Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon (grown on these hills since the unification of Italy), Chardonnay and Merlot.

Over the past few years, efforts have been made to revive old varieties that have been grown in these hills since ancient times.

See the Wines and vineyards of the Euganean Hills section

 

HONEY

Part delicacy/part medicine, honey is a complete food boasting extraordinary health and energy-boosting properties, prepared by the beekeepers of these hills using old-fashioned techniques.

Already familiar to people 35,000 years ago, beekeeping was certainly practiced in Egypt and some sources record that Hippocrates used honey as a purifying drink, while the Romans used it as the main ingredient in sauces and in an alcoholic beverage (mead). 

It is the natural sweetener par excellence, produced by Apis mellifera honeybees in the transformation of nectar collected from flowers. It can be made from the nectar of various different flowers (meadow flowers or millefleur) or from a single type of flower; the honey of the Euganean Hills is mainly acacia, chestnut, heather or lavender. Acacia honey has a very clear colour, a light fragrance and a delicate flavour; chestnut honey has a dark colour, a strong aroma and a slightly bitter taste; honeydew honey is a product produced by bees from a sugary substance similar to the resin left on the leaves and bark of trees by insects.

As well as high quality honey, royal jelly, propolis and pollen are also worth trying.

The honey of the Euganean Hills is one of the traditional products listed in line with directives issued by the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry.

 

OLIVE OIL

Olive trees were introduced in the Euganean Hills a long time ago. Some sources record their existence as far back as the Pliocene epoch, but it is more likely that the olive tree appeared in the Po River plain in pre-Roman times.

Some Roman writers – including Polybius, Strabo, Pliny the Elder, Juvenal and Martial – describe the fertility of the area and the plentiful grape harvests.

In the sixth century, in Claudius Aelianus’s Historia Varia, it says that flour focaccia bread dressed with olive oil and apple was prepared in the Euganean Hills. In late antiquity, an economic and political downturn resulted in depopulation and environmental decay, with the resulting neglect of farmland and the spread of woods and marshes.

With the domination of Venice from 1400 on, olives gained a new importance and even after that, olive farming was never abandoned again, as documents dating from the first half of the 1700s confirm.

Olive trees are so inextricably linked with the Euganean Hills that four native species have survived for centuries (Rasara, Marzemina, Rondella and Matosso), each of which produces olives and oil of varying quality. Other varieties grown in the Euganean area include Leccino and Frantoio.

The olive oil of the Euganean Hills is produced using old traditional processes. With the foundation of the Regional Park, the expansion of olive tree farming has been incentivised, focusing on local varieties and high quality olive oil production.

 

‘BISI’ OF THE EUGANEAN HILLS 

The southern part of the Euganean Hills between Baone and Arquà Petrarca (where the soil and climate are more conducive) is particularly suitable for growing peas, or bisi, particularly early, sweet varieties that are enjoyed as sweet first fruits.

In 2009, a local association called Bisi e Bisi was set up in the Euganean Hills, based in Baone. It works in partnership with the park authority and the local tourist office to increase production and its main objective is to promote bisi (peas) with a local brand that complies with a specially drafted set of regulations.

For the past three years, experimental field tests have also been underway to compare six varieties of dwarf peas in order to identify the variety that is best suited to the Euganean Hills environment.

Every year, peas are at the forefront of recipes, cooking competitions and, above all, the Festa dei Bisi pea festival that takes place in Baone every year.

 

CHERRIES

Cultivated throughout the Euganean region for centuries now, cherries are one of the park’s most distinctive products. From the time when they were only sold in local markets, their production has increased throughout the hillside area and today events that promote cherries are organised, such as the cherry festival in June, the most well-known of such events.

The cherries of the Euganean Hills are of average size, dark red in colour with a curved stem and the varieties are Bigarreau, Bigarreau Moreau, standard and early Durona and Durona di Vignola, as well as other wild varieties native to the region.

Cherries are harvested in late spring and the harvest is carried out by hand in the old-fashioned way to avoid damaging the fruit. Cherries cannot be stored for long periods of time and rot easily, so they are suitably preserved immediately after having been harvested.

Available only in June and early July, cherries are sold direct by producers and in all retail markets. They are also used to prepare candied fruit, jams, preserves and liqueurs; maraschino liqueur is particularly sought-after and famous.

 

JUJUBES

A native of North Africa and Syria, the jujube is an elegant tree of average height with distinctive olive-like, scarlet coloured fruits and a delicious sweet taste, similar to apple.

Jujubes are harvested when the fruit’s skin is still smooth as well as when it has shrivelled.

Jujubes are grown in practically every garden in the Euganean Hills, particularly in the area of Arquà Petrarca, and their fruit is now one of the most distinctive and renowned features of the area. A must-see event is the traditional jujube festival, which takes place on the first and second Sunday of October in the village of Arquà Petrarca, featuring tastings and traditional craft stalls.

Last but not least, it is worth mentioning the area’s famous traditional liqueur, Brodo di Giuggiole, as well as preserves and syrups made with this small (but delicious) fruit.

 

OTHER SMALL FRUITS

Blackberries, raspberries, pomegranates, strawberry tree fruit, hazelnuts, medlars and almonds are just some of the most valued delicacies of these hills. Used in preserves and fruit jellies, juices and syrups, they are a treat in every season.



 

PARK DELICACIES

The Euganean Hills have always been the perfect oasis if you are looking for authentic cuisine, made with simple ingredients and a range of delicious local specialities.

The park’s many restaurants, agritourism farm hotels and trattorie offer traditional dishes such as home-made bigoli and gnocchi in ragout or tomato sauce, wild herb omelettes and meat dishes prepared from typical farm animals. Many food festivals and events focus on local specialities, attracting people from nearby cities and districts every year to the Euganean Hills.

For some years now, the park has been working with the Pietro d'Abano catering and hospitality institute in Abano Terme to present recipes that make the most of traditional flavours of the Veneto region, revived thanks to the collective ‘Euganean’ memory.

Recipes 1 (only in Italian)

Recipes 2 (only in Italian)




ORGANIC PRODUCE LEAFLET

As part of a strategy designed to promote organic farming in its area, the park authority has produced a Euganean Hills organic leaflet in order to raise awareness of the certified organic produce available in the park.

The Euganean Hills organic leaflet also provides detailed information on companies and the range of products and services.

 

Click on this image to download the brochure with a map of the companies involved