The geological formation of the Euganean hills
The Euganean hills were formed by a wave of volcanic events, the first eruptions occurring about 43 million years ago. The underwater basaltic lava flows, fluid and replete with gases and vapours, spilled over and swelled the ancient seabed to form low accumulations that quickly solidified in contact with the water. What remains today of this first volcanic phase emerges primarily in the central part of these hills.
It was however the second phase, about 35 million years ago, which gave the Euganean region its present shape. After a period of dormancy, at the beginning of the Oligocene, vigorous recovery of volcanic activity produced lava of a very different composition from that of the previous phase. This was the only area of the present Venetian regions that saw such abundant flows of a very viscous acid lava. With the cooling process some quite particular rocks emerged, notably rhyolite, followed by trachyte and latite, with basalt seams bringing the cycle to an end. The thrust of the magma raised and fractured, in the most disparate of ways, the ancient layers of seabed which had until then preserved its original conformation. The geomorphology of the Euganean hills developed into a unique and evocative feature of the landscape. There are many steep and jagged forms created by these magma spills, including the spectacular rocky trachyte face of Rocca Pendice, between Castelnuovo and Teolo, today also known for its numerous climbing routes and, most recently, for the protected nesting areas of the peregrine falcon.
After the volcanic phenomena ended, the highest peaks emerged and probably formed an archipelago of steep stony islands in the ancient Po Valley sea.
Long afterwards, these emerged wholly from the sea, with selective erosion over millions of years producing a very varied landscape, where the softest sedimentary deposits were partly removed by weathering to reveal the visually contrasting hard volcanic cores with their steep flanks and conical peaks. Climatic events, the evolution of the vegetation and later human settlements completed the process of shaping the land.
The various geological nature of the soils that came about from the surface upheavals of the sedimentary or volcanic substrate, and the present morphology made up of small peaks with closed perimeters and variable exposures , make the Euganean hills an area of great value in terms of their biodiversity.
The climate of the Euganean hills.
Here the climate is generally milder than it is on the plain of the Po Valley, both in summer and in winter, and the temperature ranges are less marked. The south-facing slopes catch the direct rays of the sun, whose warmth encourages the growth of many species of Mediterranean flora, while the cool and shady northern slopes and the narrow valleys, mostly home to temporary streams, ensure that plants of cooler habitats thrive, some of which are the present-day legacy of distant glacial eras.
Winter on the hills is often cheered by days of calm clear air when down in the Po Valley fogs shroud the land. The result is a fascinating inversion of the temperature gradients with the tops of hills poking out like islands in a sea of clouds, bringing to mind the watery expanses of the ancient sea in which this landscape was once set. There are also major variations in weather that depend not only on morphology and exposure, but also on the inclinations of the slopes and the presence of exposed rock that reflects the warm rays of the bright sun.
The area is located to the southwest of the province of Padua, just 60 km from Venice, 25 km from Vicenza, 100 km from Verona and 250 from Milan. From the top of Monte Gemola, you can see the bell tower of Saint Mark’s in Venice.
This land which keeps giving for the wine growers lies between 40 ° and 50 ° of latitude, just below 45 degrees, which is known as the “wine parallel”, being equidistant between the North Pole and the Equator, the ideal latitude for all the world’ great wines and the watershed between the cold north and the hot south.