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The Euganean hills turn pink

03 Marzo 2021
The Euganean hills turn pink Foto: Claudia Baldin Claudia Baldin
The charm of the Euganean Hills' landscape motivated the pens of some writers who for different reasons came to this area: Mary Shelley, Vittoria Aganoor, Margaret Symonds and Silvia Rodella. By Claudia Baldin

Colli Euganei in the province of Padua have been a very popular destination for many writers to pay homage to the genius of Francesco Petrarca. D'Annunzio, Byron and Foscolo are certainly among the most named and prestigious, but the female creative world is certainly no less.
Local traditions, echoes of the Middle Ages or simply the charm of the hilly landscape have stimulated the pens of some writers who, for different reasons, have arrived in this area: Mary Shelley, Vittoria Aganoor, Margaret Symonds and Silvia Rodella.

Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley at the Este court

The writer universally known as the author of Frankenstein, arrived in Este in November 1818 following her husband Percy on the trip to Italy they had undertaken together in March of that same year. They reside in the Capuchin villa, rented by their friend Lord Byron who allows them a stay in this location, certainly not famous among the travelers of the Grand Tour of that period.

There spent the short time will be marred till the death of her daughter Clara, whose body they leaft in Venice, where they had gone to be examined by a doctor friend of Byron. Colli Euganei welcome them on their return in a soothing embrace with a balsamic value, as if in the landscape they seek comfort to mitigate that particular and intense sense of emptiness.
For this reason, in her letters Mary mentions Este in passing and it will only be the passage of time that will give the writer the serenity necessary to write in detail their stay in the Este family, the villa in which they lived, Percy's progress in Julian and Maddalo and Prometheus unbound.
The Carrarese castle with its towers and mighty walls in front of the villa, which is now owned by the Piccioni family who is caring guardian, certainly also fascinated him.

In fact, the walk that accompanies this corner of paradise, surrounded by nature and history, between archaeological areas of the ancient Venetians, glories of the Venetian Renaissance in the Falconetto arch and obviously the walls is beautiful. The castle and Este are also the background to a novel by Mary called Valperga in which another aspect also appears: the protagonist Guinigi in the Colli Euganei seeks peace and quiet, just like the English couple, but above all as the "ours” Francesco Petrarca, whom Mary knew very well and whom she often quotes in the editions of her husband's poems edited by her.

Vittoria Aganoor, the charm of the Armenian culture in Veneto

The last of five sisters, Vittoria was born in Padua in 1855 from a noble family of Armenian origin, thus sanctioning the tradition of a deep bond between this land and the Veneto, as often testified by Antonia Arslan who, speaking of Aganoor, reminds us of the origin of this surname: from aga-lord and nur-light.

The young woman's life takes her away from Padua to Venice with her family, then to Umbria with her husband Guido Pompilj, an engineer but also a politician of great cultural depth, ending the journey on this land in Rome struck down by a tumor.
Just as a wedding gift, the sisters Elena and Maria in 1901 give her a plot of land in Arquà Petrarca, today lovingly cared for by the Zanovello family, owner of the renowned Ca'Lustra winery who dedicated one of their best wines to her, Aganoor 2013, deserve in 2015, 1 glass of Gambero Rosso (https://calustra.it). 

Years ago they started a work of rediscovery of the works of this artist that Benedetto Croce called "the first Italian poetess", a pupil of Giacomo Zanella and warmly greeted by Carducci. I am in possession of one of the few copies of the anastatic reprint of "Eternal Legend", 1900 edition, a poetic songbook between autobiography full of memories of youth and historical testimonies.
Here the contrasts of a very tormented soul alternate, housed in a woman who appeared to all to be gentle and serene, at the center of many episodes in the period of the Bella Époque with her husband.
"Vittoria Aganoor, a legend from the East to the Belle Epoque" is the title of a theatrical performance staged in the Euganean places by Teatro Ortaet with their animated visits (https://www.visiteanimate.it).

Margaret Symonds, diary of a holiday in the villa of the Doge Pisani

In the summer of 1893, Symonds was the guest of Countess Evelina van Millingen, wife of the last of the Pisans in their villa in Vescovana, south of Padua. The imposing Pisani Bolognesi Scalabrin residence is a private property open to the public: you can visit the internal rooms, but above all you will fall in love with the garden so loved by Evelina and described by Margaret, renowned on the international scene for the extraordinary flowering of 150,000 tulips Dutch, mixed between grass and wild flowers (https://www.villapisani.it).

Margaret keeps a diary of the days spent in this territory with a strong agricultural vocation, outlining portraits of the localities and people that characterize it. The result is a delightful work, full of anecdotes about the countess, about this curious country life, but also of descriptions of cities such as Padua and Vicenza and above all of the places between Colli Euganei and the Lower Padovana such as Praglia, Mount Venda and the village of Arquà Petrarca.

The Francesco Petrarca Literary Park has dedicated a plaque to her right here (http://www.parcopetrarca.com/luoghi/margareth-symonds-arqua-petrarca) describing his visit to the village, climbing on foot from the lower one to the upper one , admiring the landscape, the jujubes and finally the poet's house (http://padovacultura.padovanet.it/it/musei/casa-del-petrarca)

Silvia Rodella and her Euganean Legends
The last of seven children, Silvia grew up in the sixteenth-century villa that the family bought at the end of the nineteenth century in Cinto Euganeo, now known as Pasqualigo-Pasinetti-Rodella. The building is located at the foot of the Euganean Hills, in a slightly elevated position and next to the Bisatto watercourse that comes from Vicenza, where there is still an ancient docking point for boats. The presence of water, the large park full of secular plants and fruit, animals, but above all the landscape and the stories related to her territory intrigue and inspire her in the writing of one of her works known as "Euganean Legends”, published in 1941.
The protagonists are often characters linked to local or historical stories that have characterized the area: from Ezzelino da Romano to Beatrice d’Este, up to tales of places with sinister names such as "the door of the thieves' buso".
The place is known as Buso dei briganti and refers to a cave used as a hiding place. It is located within a path of the Monte Cinto path (http://www.parcocollieuganei.com/itinerari-dettaglio.php?id_iti=974) which starts near the Geopaleontological Museum known as Cava Bomba, which is soon to be reopened. At the very beginning of this path, the literary plaque of the Francesco Petrarca Litterary Park will soon be inaugurated, dedicated to the passage from the Euganean legend in which Silvia masterfully describes this place, enriching it with her emotions in full harmony with the mission of the Literary Parks.

Francesco Petrarca e dei Colli Euganei
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Francesco Petrarca e dei Colli Euganei

Colli Euganei (Padova)

“Se solo potessi mostrarti il secondo Elicona che per te e le Muse ho allestito sui Colli Euganei, penso proprio che di lì non vorresti mai più andartene”. Francesco Petrarca, Epistole varie, 46, a Moggio Moggi di Parma (20 giugno 1369)

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