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Asolo - Prosecco Estates

Asolo

Cities and Towns in Veneto

The town of Asolo ranks number 25 on a list published in Italy’s most famous newspaper “La Corriere della Serra” of the country’s 100 most beautiful villages.  Dominated by “La Rocca” castle, the town has preserved its evocative medieval atmosphere.  Porticoes and arcaded pavements flank the winding streets.  Near to the central piazza many of the ancient buildings still display frescoes on their exteriors. 
 
The name of this town forms the base of the Italian verb “Asolare” meaning to pass time in a meaningless but delightful way.  In this sense, the town of Asolo is laid back in an  quintessentially Italian way.  Not a lot happens here; but the place, the people, the birdsong and the foliage which blanket Asolo and the  surrounding  area make the town and its environs, put simply, delightful. 
 
Before the town became a Roman stronghold (which they may have called “Acelum”) the site was inhabited by the by ancient Veneti tribes. The walls around Asolo date back to the 14th century, the period when the town found itself caught up in the bitter conflicts between the local ruling families: the Scaglieri of Verona, the Carrasei (Lords of Padua) and the Serenissima (Venitian republic) herself.
 
In 1489 the “Lordship” of Asolo was granted to Caterina Cornaro, Queen of Cyprus, as partial compensation for the island of Cyprus which she ceded to the Venetian Republic.  Thus the town became the center of a Royal Court, a very small court, but one  renowned for its refinement and for the quality of the artists who visited there: amongst whom was Pietro  Bembo, who wrote the Gli Asolani a poetic essay explaining Platonic love.
 
During the 19th century the English Romantic poet Robert Browning lived in Asolo where he wrote Asolando, his last volume of poems.  Since then many other writers and artists, attracted by the beauty of the place have chosen the town “for rest and inspiration”.  Many poets, writers and architects visited and stayed in Asolo, including: Eugene Benson, Henry James, Carlo Scarpa, Ernest Hemingway, Giosue Carducci, Filippo De Pisis and Elizabeth Barret Browning (Robert Browning’s wife).  Musicians including Igor Stravinsky and Gian Francesco Malipiero composed here.  The famous Italian actress Eleanor Duse retired here, her legacy living on in the Duse Hotel and restaurant. 
 
Asolo is glamorous and on the weekends, in the central piazza, rich Venetians come in convertible Ferraris, Lambourginis and Alfa Romeos, to sit in the sunny piazza drinking Prosecco, a wine produced in the Veneto, while staring at the often beautifully attired local inhabitants.  The town isn’t big, but it is exquisite, enchanting and evocative of both days of old, and of the extreme affluence of modern times.
 
By Jesse Andrews, August 25, 2006

 

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