Taking advantage of a beautiful sunny (but cool) Saturday my husband and I went to visit Asolo, one of the Borghi più Belli d’Italia (the most beautiful villages in Italy).
Asolo was inhabited since prehistoric times. Where today there is the Fortress (XII century, built to strengthen the defences of this strategic place) some archaeologists found the remains of a place of worship, a cemetery and a settlement. Asolo lived its maximum splendour under the Venetian Republic. From 1489 Caterina Cornaro, Queen of Cyprus, lived in the Castle with her court of artists and poets.
The beauty of the place has attracted many intellectuals and artists: Henry James, Robert Browning, Eugene Benson, Giosué Carducci, Igor Stravinsky, Eleonora Duse and Freya Stark.
To visit Asolo – my experience
To park your car we preferred the Forestuzzo parking (in via Forestuzzo) that is free and walk 400 meters uphill to reach the centre. First, coming from the parking lot, we walked along Villa Freya (visit only by appointment), then we found a lovely little fountain, called Zen Fountain, where there is a funny inscription in an “archaic” Italian: E’ vietato di abbeverare quadrupedi. (It is forbidden to water quadrupeds). Then we went to the Castle which hosts now a theatre and a bar. We went up on the walls, where you can enjoy a splendid view.
Continuing in via Canova and then via Santa Caterina you can see the purple building where Eleonora Duse, the divine, lived, the Hotel Cipriani and the small church of Santa Caterina. Then on the left you can see a nice private park and, behind, Villa Contarini degli Armeni, beautiful especially for the context in which it is immersed. Continue and, at the crossroad, you can see on the right the bizarre Casa Longobarda. It dates from 1500 and has a tuff façade with strange figures. The cemetery is just down the road. It ‘a small cemetery with nothing special, but the view is wonderful. The tomb of Eleonora Duse was average, nothing sumptuous and the flowers were dried.
We went back to the centre for lunch and stopped in a place spotted at the arrival, the Osteria al Bacaro, chosen because it has a lovely terrace with a beautiful view. It offers simple dishes at prices higher than the average (but in line with those of Asolo). My review, like we say in Italian: senza infamia e senza lode (without neither infamy nor praise). But the terrace was nice and romantic, so… You judge.
After lunch we visited the Cathedral (where there are a couple of nice paintings, but nothing unmissable) and then we went to the Rocca (fortress). You must cross piazza Garibaldi (pretty but too invaded by parked cars, what deadly sin in such a beautiful place!). Villa Pasini Scotti, where Robert Browning stayed, is there. You must climb the road that runs along (on the left) the Villa. Then the steps (240) begin, then another uphill path and then again the final steps. It is a bit of a challenging climb. My husband and I made three short stops to breath.
Upon arrival we paid €6 for the combined ticket with the Museum (instead of 7€). Inside the Rocca there is almost nothing, but, by climbing a wooden staircase, you get to the walkway at the top, and it’s worth it: you are rewarded with wonderful view over the plain, the hills and the village. Breathtaking! Once off, we visited the Museo Civico. If you are interested, you can read my post about the Museo Civico of Asolo.
Why should you visit Asolo? Asolo is a really fascinating village, full of interesting and romantic corners. We met several British and German tourists during our visit. But there was absolutely no crowd. Wandering around the centre we saw many bars and restaurants but also many chic shops: jewellers, designer shops and “bon-ton clothing” shops. As far as I’m concerned a visit to Asolo is highly recommended.
To have further information visit Asolo offical website at www.asolo.it/en