Defined by Giosuè Carducci as the city of a hundred horizons, Asolo appears as an intimate perched garden exposed to the “air of the world”, thanks to the numerous illustrious guests enchanted by such beauty and whom, in many cases, have decided to spend part of their life here.
In every season… The best clothes
In every season this enchanting walled city shows its best clothes: when the sun shines over the green that surrounds it and when the fog sourronds it giving it an aura full of charm and intimacy. The awards given to this small city are not counted: it is one of the most beautiful villages in Italy, the Orange Flag of Touring, and the Slow city. As a matter of fact, while walking the ups and downs of the city center or spending the time idly sitting at a cafe, the only thing you can see is beauty, wherever you look.
One more reason to love Asolo
Every year, at the end of September, Asolo hosts the “Festival del viaggiatore” (Traveller’s Festival). The event is dedicated to travel in all its forms, as a more intense metaphor for life. On this occasion, the city opens up to the world and its most symbolic venues host important events: from the garden of Villa Freya to the Cloister of the S.S. Pietro and Paolo, from Villa Cipriani to the Castle and last but not least the Duse theater… When beauty and culture come together the “risk” of living unforgettable experiences is high!
The Fontanella Zen, which is located just after the Portella di Castelfranco (is impossible not to recognize it thanks to the affixed inscription “Vietato abbeverare i quadrupedi”), is also “open to the world”. It dates back to 1571, when the municipality gave permission to the rich Family Zen to build a water pipe to bring water to their home, with the precise condition that the family committed to building a fountain for travelers who came to the village. The water is very pure and is still available to everyone today.
Villa Freya – Archaeological Park garden
Asolo means (also) illustrious travelers and women. The combination of the two is perfectly personified by the figure of Freya Stark, who was born in Paris in 1893 and died in Asolo in 1993. In her hundred years of life, this English writer was an internationally renowned Red Cross, explorer, photographer and popularizer. In the 1930s she traveled to the territories of the Middle East (sometimes even disguising herself as a man) and chose Asolo as a place to rest from his arduous journeys. The park of the villa host the remains of the Roman theater and was interested by restoration works completed by 2012. The Archaeological Park garden is accessible to the public through guided tours, which allow you to learn more about the life and adventures of this incredible explorer.
The civic museum
The artistic center of the city, the Civic Museum of Asolo houses an archaeological section, a precious art gallery and a room dedicated to Antonio Canova, honorary citizen of Asolo. The museum also pays tribute to the three ladies of Asolo: Caterina Cornaro, Eleonora Duse and Freya Stark.
The hearth of the city
Piazza Garibaldi is the hearth of Asolo. At its center is the Fontana Maggiore, dominated by the winged lion of San Marco. For centuries this fountain has been the most important water collection system in the city center. It is sufficient to cross the square to get to the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta. Built in the 10th century, it was rebuilt in 1700 on the basis of a project by Giorgio Massari. The shape of the church is large and welcoming, and the image of the Madonna Assunta depicted from the outside in the mosaic of the nineteenth-century facade invites the faithful to gather in prayer. Inside the Cathedral you can admire numerous precious paintings (including an altarpiece by Lorenzo Lotto) as well as the baptismal font donated by Queen Caterina Cornaro to the city.
La rocca / The fortness
The fortress of Asolo rises on the top of Mount Ricco (310m). It was built between the end of the XII and the beginning of the XIII century to protect the city. The effort to reach it is amply rewarded by the view of the surrounding landscape, which ranges from the Dolomite peaks to Venice. (Opening hours: Saturdays, Sundays and holidays 10.00-19.00). On the slopes of Monte Ricco, Villa Scotti Pasini dominates the area of the central squares of the historic center.
Walking along via Canova
I begin my descent to go and visit the cemetery of Santa Anna, where many illustrious names are buried, among others, the one of the divine Eleonora Duse. Going down Via Canova, at the Porta di Santa Caterina, I pass in front of her house.
Rated as one of the most talented theater actresses of her time, she lived a tormented love story with the poet Gabriele D’Annunzio. On the facade of his house, on the occasion of the first anniversary of his death in 1925, a plaque whose text was dictated by Gabriele D’Annunzio
I continue my descent, following the scent of lavender in bloom which inebriates the air of the wonderful garden of Villa De Mattia. I continue and find myself in front of the Lombard House.
It is a tuff house, where cultural quotes and artistic components come together, giving life to a fun and curious architectural style. It was built by the Lombard architect and sculptor Francesco Graziolo, personal architect of the Queen Cornaro.
Cemetery of Sant’Anna
I continue uphill towards the convent with the Church of Sant’Anna attached. Following the Napoleonic dispositions, which required the transfer of the cemeteries outside the inhabited centers, the belvedere of the convent adjacent to the current cemetery became a sepulchral area. Eleonora Duse left it written that she wanted to be buried towards Monte Grappa, for the love of the homeland and of the soldiers she had assisted during the First World War.
After so many ups and downs, it’s time to rest and I arrive at the Castle on time to enjoy the sunset. Since 1489 the name of this castle has been associated with the one of Caterina Cornaro, Queen of Cyprus, Jerusalem and Armenia.
This sumptuous residence was the place where the Venetians exiled her at the end of one of the many wars against the Turks, and it is thanks to her that the name of Asolo began to spread in the world then. Today little of the ancient splendor remains, but a wonderful view and a well-deserved aperitif at the castle bar are a perfect reward at the end of this day.
- Oil, wine and an important gastronomic culture make Asolo the ideal place to pamper your taste buds. Here are the names of some places where your soul (and your body) will find enjoyment: Trattoria Moderna Due Mori (lovely view!), Antica Osteria al Bacaro, Enoteca Alle Ore, Henry’s Bar and the Caffe Centrale (the names of the famous characters that took a coffee here are written on the chairs).
- Not only Asolo but also its surroundings are enchanting. In Pagnano d’Asolo, for example, there is the oldest mallet in Europe. Even the national Alberto (Angela, editor’s note) dedicated a reportage to this mallet.
- Are you in the mood of explore the surroundings of Asolo? Then let yourself be inspired by this circular route that made Gloria Sonda fall in love with the Asolani hills.
- If small beautiful cities are your passion then get ready to discover the secrets of Bassano del Grappa in this post I wrote about my city.