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View of Bassano del Grappa
by
Jesse Andrews


River scene in Bassano del Grappa
by Jesse Andrews


Piazza Liberta, Bassano


Ponte Vecchio, Bassano

 

Welcome to Bassano del Grappa
From Jesse's Journeys in Italy

Population: 40,411
Official website:
Bassano del Grappa
Wikipedia: Bassano del Grappa
Map: MapQuest

Bassano sits in a stunning location by the River Brenta with Monte Grappa in the background. It is about 35 kilometres north east of Vicenza. The town's symbols are said to be the Palladian bridge, white asparagus, ceramics and the Grappa liqueur. If you like to be slightly off the tourist track or prefer a more rural setting for short break or as a base for a touring holiday, Bassano is ideal.

Apart from having an important role in Italian and European history, this town is chic, young and highly fashionable.  There are wonderful bars and restaurants which line the central piazza, glamorous shops and opulent buildings kept in pristine condition. 

The river "Brenta", which cuts through the town is emerald green and surrounded by brightly colored buildings on either side.  The fast flowing river comes down from the Alps.  To the East of the river, the historical center of the town is still surrounded by the medieval walls which were once built to defend it.  Within these walls, a labyrinth of streets, which are pedestrian only, allows for considerable window shopping and sightseeing without commotion. 

Indeed, Bassano del Grappa is a peaceful place, not frequently visited by many English speaking tourists, but what we here at VisitsItaly consider to be one of the Veneto's best kept secrets. 

It is often assumed that the city takes its name from the well known liqueur Grappa.  However it is named after Monte Grappa. The mountain's name originates from "crapp" or "greep", meaning crag in an ancient pre-Latin language. The name of the liqueur - which is produced in Bessano in quantity - stems from "grappolo", meaning a cluster of grapes.

Grappa liqueur has been produced in Bassano since 1779 when Bortolo Nardini bought a Grapperia on the Brenta River bank. Grappa is made from the by-products of wine making, the seeds, stems and skins. The company is still run by members of the Nardini family.

Ponte Vecchia has become synonymous with Bassano. The bridge is first mentioned in the 11th century. The bridge has been rebuilt several times due to flooding or destruction during wars. It is still the original design by Palladio from 1569. The bridge is built of wood, making it more resilient to the fast flowing River Brenta.

There is a record of the city on St Mary's Hill from the 10th century. From the 14th to 18th century the city was under Venetian rule. It became well known for the manufacture of ceramics, wool, silk, iron and copper. The Remondini family ran one of the most up-to-date printing houses in Europe from the17th to the 19th century.


The Town Hall was first constructed in 1405. Bartolomeo Ferranci installed the present clock mechanism in 1743. The interior walls are adorned by frescoes of 120 coats of arms.

White asparagus was first produced in the 16th century after Bassano experienced a hailstorm, which destroyed the asparagus crop. The farmers dug up the part of the
plant below the earth and discovered that it was so tender and delicious that they started to grow it underground permanently.

During the First World War the Italians took a last stand against the Austrians in Monte Grappa where they entrenched themselves in tunnels and bunkers to repel the Austrian
attackers. Over 12,000 Italian and 10,000 Austrian soldiers lost their lives in the numerous battles.

During the Second World War Italian partisans hid in Monte Grappa, organizing raids on the main supply route from Germany to the German troops stationed in Italy. In 1944 the Germans took revenge by marching up the mountain behind women, children and elderly local inhabitants. Any partisans discovered or civilians suspected of assisting
partisans were killed. There were public hangings and shootings with families forced to watch.

In 1946 the Italian prime minister awarded Basssano the gold medal for military valor.  Every year the city commemorates these events during September.

The Museo degli Alpini was established in 1948 in memory of the Italian Alpine Troops It is located on the eastern side of the Ponte Vecchio. You have to enter it through a cafe. Originally the collection was very small but has grown as more war relics have been gathered together. There are many original photos, uniforms and armoury.

Museo della Cermica is near the eastern side of the Ponte Vecchio. The building was constructed as the residence of Ferrari family, owners of a local silk factory. The entrance hall is adorned with a fresco by Giorgio Anseli. There are pieces of engraved ceramics from medieval times, Mainardi majolica pieces from the 17th and 18th century, along with modern pieces.

The Civic Musuem is one of the oldest in the Veneto region. It was built in1828 on the site of the convent of St Francis. It houses a collection of paintings by the Da Ponti family, Guariento and Magnasco, a collection of prints by the Remondini family. There is also an archaeological section and pieces by Antonio Canova.

Bassano boasts several churches. San Donato built in 1208, San Francesco, started in the mid 12th century, and the Cathedral of Holy Mary dating from the 17th century.

So, Bassano may not be the ultimate  destination of your journey, but it is highly recommended to travelers and tourists who are in the Veneto Region and want to experience an authentic northern Italian river town.  Put it on your travel map, why not?

by Karen Bryan

Region of Veneto

4536′N 1032′E

Distances

Padua - 45 km;
Treviso - 48 km;
Vicenza - 36 km;
Venice - 80 km;
Verona - 100 km;
Trento - 86 km;
Milano - 260 km

Directory

Good value!
Hotel Brennero
 

Bassano street scene
More on the history of Bassano