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Asolo, the city of a hundred horizons: one of the most beautiful villages in Italy

Updated: Aug 3, 2022

Asolo, a small town a few steps from Venice, hosts an incredible amount of places to visit: from private villas to churches, from squares to historic buildings, Asolo is a small jewel in the province of Treviso.

In this article we will immerse you into the beauty of Asolo, an unmissable stop during a holiday in Veneto region.

The city of Asolo

Asolo is a town in the province of Treviso of about 10,000 inhabitants. It is a member of the Club of the most beautiful villages in Italy, an association that promotes Italian towns that are lucky enough to have places of particular historical and artistic interest on their territory; Asolo, no doubt, is one of these.

The particular location of the town, which extends between the Veneto plain and the Belluno pre-Alps, makes it quite diversified from area to area: in the southern part, it is totally flat, with altitudes ranging from 80 to 100 meters above sea level; in the northern area, however, it has modest hills reaching their peak in the 379 meters of Poggio San Martino. The only river that flows in the city is the Musone stream, which originates from the north (in the municipality of Maser) and extends towards the flat area.

What to see in Asolo

Asolo has an impressive number of tourist attractions, especially if compared to the relative smallness of the territory.

Rocca of Asolo

We start from the Rocca, built on the top of the rich mountain (the highest peak in the centre of Asolo), which dates back to a period between the 12th and 13th centuries; until 1510, the fortress housed the garrisons of soldiers, but the phase of decay of the fortifications already from this date.

Indeed, in 1650 Venice tried to sell it for the amount (not that high) of 320 ducats, a transaction that vanished only by the entreaties of the Asolan community, which already felt this monument as an integral part of the city since then. From the 80s-90s, the Rocca underwent an important conservative intervention that makes it one of the main attractions of Asolo.

The castle of Asolo

Even more ancient is the Castle, dating back to the 10th century. First, it was home to Ezzelino da Romano and then to the Venetian podestàs. Welded with the city walls in the short season of the Carraresi, of the four towers that characterised it, only three remain standing: the civic tower, the Reata tower and the Torre del Carro; the transformation of the magnificent Aula Pretoria into a theatre took place in the French phase (1798). Two small curiosities: it is within these gardens that Pietro Bembo, literate at the Court of Caterina Cornaro, Queen of Cyprus and lady of Asolo, set his famous dialogues "The Asolani", and within the complex we also find the reconstruction of the famous Duse Theater, recently restored.

The Cathedral of Asolo

Another must-see monument is the Cathedral , whose first documented mention dates back

to 969, although it probably only took on its current appearance in 1584; the internal part has three naves with a stone column; you can also appreciate the valuable angels by Giuseppe Bernardi on te high altar and the fantastic altarpieces by Lorenzo Lotto and Jacopo da Ponte. Among the sacred places, it is impossible not to mention the Convent of the Holy Pietro and Paolo, leaning against the walls, which was first the seat of the Benedictine nuns (from 1634 to 1807), then of the municipal schools, and finally of the CIMBA, a consortium of 37 American universities, which organises prestigious masters inside these buildings. Furthermore, we mention the Church of San Gottardo, the best known convent of Asolo in the Renaissance, the Church of Santa Caterina, tightly linked to the birth and development of the Confraternita dei Battuti at the beginning of the fourteenth century, and the Church of Saint Anna, which houses the tombs of the famous people of Asolo, including Eleonora Duse and Freya Stark.

The Civic Museum of Asolo

The Civic Museum is also worth a visit, located in the Palazzo del Vescovado and in the adjacent Palazzo della Ragione (the latter, built in the 15th century); the first nucleus of museum collections was formed, in the early nineteenth century, thanks to donations from Domenico Manera and Giovan Battista Sartori Canova. Officially, the museum was established at the end of the nineteenth century, and started collecting, gradually a growing number of donations, significantly increasing the patrimony of the institute, of which we remember, above all, the very important Historical Archive.

The squares of Asolo

There are numerous squares in Asolo : Piazza Brugnoli, which stands on ancient spas dating back to the 1st-4th century, under which stands the splendid Roman aqueduct "La Bot"; Piazza Garibaldi, the main square of the city, from which you can reach the main monuments of the historic centre; piazza Maggiore, with the homonym fountain, whose current appearance dates back to 1575, while the winged lion by Antonio Dal Zotto dates back to 1918; in Piazza D'Annunzio there is the beautiful Palazzo Beltramini, seat of the family bearing the same name who came to Asolo from Lombardy during the fifteenth century.

At the Portello di Castelfranco, one of the gates of the wonderful city walls, you will find the house and the park that belonged to Dame Freye Stark, inside which excavations were carried out when unearthing Roman remains in the 1990s: the Asolo Archaeological Garden Park was made just over a year ago and is accessible to the public who can admire the remains of the ancient Acelum theatre too.

The Villas of Asolo

Another important private seat of Asolo is undoubtedly Villa Scotti-Pasini overlooking the city from Monte Ricco; the first layout of the villa seems to refer to around the 17th century, while the additions of some small surrounding buildings can be attributed to the following century.

Furthermore, in Asolo you can also admire the Lombard house, the richly decorated home of architect Francesco Graziolo and, probably, seat of his workshop, too. Villa Contarina (called the Armenians) is instead located on the top of the Colle Messano and is one of the most famous monuments of Asolo, built in 1558 and owned by the Contarini and also by many other families of the Venetian nobility; inside, you can find the biblical frescoes by Lattanzio Gambara from Brescia.

In Asolo, as we can see, there are numerous private houses that have become important tourist destinations. In addition to those already mentioned, we would like to list numerous other residences: Casa Malipiero, which belonged to the twentieth-century composer Gianfrancesco Malipiero; the Hanseatic Houses (Casa de Maria and Casa Pusinich), made in 'Nordic' style, and built in 1914-15 by will of the painter Mario de Maria (better known as "Marius Pictor"); Casa Duse , home to the famous stage actress Eleonora Duse during her later years; finally, the Gothic House around which the Archaeological Superintendence for the Veneto recently found house items attributed to the ancient Venetians.

I hope our article has been useful for you!

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