Wine and Liquors, Secrets of the Monks of Padua

Abbazia Di Praglia-
Abbazia Di Praglia-(photo taken from website)

“He who is a monk, only looks to God, only desires God, devotes himself only to God, chooses to serve God alone and, living in peace with God, becomes author of peace for others” (Theodore the Studite)

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Grey afternoon skies hung low over the countryside surrounding Padua. I had just driven ten kilometers southwest of town to arrive at my destination, the Abbazia Di Praglia, a Benedictine community of monks. Nestled at the feet of the Euganean hills, along an ancient road leading to the neighboring town of Este, it felt like I had just stepped back in time.

Medieval architecture loomed up before me as I left the car and walked up the wide steps to the tall church doors. Founded between the eleventh and twelfth centuries, it still looked rock-solid. I stepped inside for just a few minutes to admire the ancient immensity. But I had another purpose in mind. The monks of the Abbey are very industrious and produce amazing wine, elixirs, skin care products, honey, soap, emulsions and effusions sold in their on-site apothecary shop. Anxiously, I retraced my steps outside in search of the ancient pharmacy.

Old step leading up to the Abbey church
Old stairs leading up to the Abbey church

Documents found in the old abbey from nearly a thousand years ago describe the interest of the monks in vineyards and wine that survives to this day. These monks have never been secluded but from the beginning worked manual labor predominately in their fields. Today they cultivate ten hectares of vineyards, all with DOC status . The traditional Garganega, Friularo and muscat Fiordaruncio grape varietals are grown here.

The cultivation of herbs for the purpose of elixirs, infusions and skin care emollients are ingredients from ancient recipes secretly handed down from generation to generation. Some have been reworked by the monks, but the old recipes are still used. The monks are very protective of these recipes and wisely keep them secret.

Fog swirls around the Abbey
Fog swirls around the Abbey-mysterious and spooky!!
Shop in the Abbey
Inside the Abbey shop-shelves of wines and elixirs made by the monks

Delicious red and white wine are sold along with several kinds of elixirs. A bottle of Amaro, made of bitter herbs, and Dulcor, a sweet herb elixir, came home with me. The digestive effects are wonderful if taken before or after dinner. At up to 35% alcohol, a little dab will do you! Some are even higher.

I have my Amaro and Dulcor Elixer all picked out to take home
I have my Amaro and Dulcor Elixir all picked out to take home. On the shelf are various skin nourishing creams and medicinal teas and salves.
Friendly man behind the counter let me take my elixir home with me....after I payed him a few euros!!
Friendly man (although photo shy) behind the counter let me take my elixir home with me….after I payed him a few euros!!
Looking at the courtyard through the shop window
Looking at the courtyard through the shop window
Quaint decor in shop
Quaint fireplace used as display for the Wines, Elixirs and Honey Soaps from their own hives
Abbey road just outside the shop on right
Abbey road just outside the shop (on right)
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Poster of monks cultivating honey at the Abbey

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Industrious monks using ancient herbal recipes to create their products

Product dispensing in the laboratory
Herbal Product dispensing in the laboratory-notice the Good Samaritan tending to a wounded stranger in upper left.
Standing at the gate to leave
Standing at the gate waiting for my chauffeur!

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Content to leave the secret recipes with the monks, I have a new admiration for this industrious community. They are truly guardians of the keep.

 

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