On our way to Slovenia, we passed through Veneto, the world-famous Italian region home to touristy destinations such as Venice, Padua, and Verona. We decided instead to spend 1 day in the incredible medieval town of Bassano del Grappa on the footsteps of the Alps. The city is known for its wooden pontoon bridge built by Palladio in the 16th century and its 12th-century castle. Grappa, the renowned Italian spirit made of grapes, was invented here. I don’t know if we were that lucky or if it had to do with being there during the low season but we were almost entirely on our own! Strolling around with no tourists in sight felt wonderful! The place belonged to us. Oh, and the views!
What to see in Bassano del Grappa
Just like many cities in the Veneto region, Bassano is a wealthy town rich in history. There are plenty of things to do in 1 day in Bassano del Grappa. Its medieval old town is full of cute squares, elegant palaces and stone towers. The star of the city is undoubtedly its famous Ponte Vecchio (the Old Bridge). The original was built in the 16th Century and destroyed three times. However, it was reconstructed according to the original design each time. Another important landmark is the medieval fortification of Castello degli Ezzelini originally built in the 10th Century. Take note that the current structure is from the 12th Century. Likewise, don’t forget to check the Bassano Cathedral, part of the castle fort.
Things to Do in Bassano del Grappa
Monumental city walls once surrounded Bassano. Look for the two large towers that still stand: Porta delle Grazie on the northeast and Porta Dieda in the south. The later has a giant Venetian lion symbolizing loyalty to Venice.
The city’s two main squares are the Piazza Libertà with the San Giovanni Church and the City Hall (with a large clock) and the Piazza Garibaldi with the San Francesco Church and the Civic Tower. Climb to the top of the tower and you’ll be stunned by the views.
To enjoy the best views of the Alps go to Viale dei Martiri. This tree-lined promenade has a terrible history. In 1944, German Nazis and Italian Fascists hanged 31 young partisans. The views from the promenade show us how beautiful earth is, while the trees planted on the Valley of the Martyrs remind us how evil Europeans can be.
For the coolest views of the old bridge go to the bridge on Viale Armando Diaz. Finally don’t forget to try Grappa, the famous local pomace brandy. There is even a museum that tells the story of the brandy!
Sites outside Bassano del Grappa
If you have more than 1 day in Bassano del Grappa, you have enough time to explore the surrounding area. This is Italy, so prepare to be dazzled! You will find Castelfranco Veneto to the south. This medieval town inside a massive square fortification seems taken out of a movie! On the other hand, if you want to spend time in the mountains go to Asolo, another medieval town. Take your time to inhale the fresh air, admire the views, and walk about the numerous villas and lush gardens. If you are short of time, go to Palladio’s Villa Angarano, 2 km from Bassano. In 1996 UNESCO included it in the World Heritage Site ‘City of Vicenza and the Palladian Villas of the Veneto’.
Where to stay in Bassano del Grappa
Bassano is a relatively small city and most of its sights are around the old town. Hence, you should base yourself there. We stayed at the Hotel Victoria, just off the wooden bridge. It offered us everything we needed: great location, a good night sleep, and a delicious breakfast. The nearby Hotel Dal Ponte is another good option. If you would like to stay in a historical building there are three fantastic options: the Le 33, the Attico25 and the Hotel Al Castello, part of the medieval fortification. If you are looking for the best views stay at the real palace – Terraglio Rooms.