But for centuries, artists, writers, poets and intellectuals have been visiting the medieval town for its sheer beauty and rich history. Poet Giosue Carducci, the first Italian to win the Nobel Prize in Literature, described it as the “town with a hundred horizons.” It has also been called the “Pearl of the Province of Treviso.”
Located on a hilltop amidst a chain of seven mountains separated by valleys, the picturesque town offers commanding views in almost every direction. Among its other laurels, it is included in the list of the most beautiful villages in Italy (I Borghi più belli d’Italia), one of six in the Veneto region.
The climate in Asolo is generally temperate but with a fair amount of rain and clouds. So in terms of taking advantage of the stunning vistas, the best time to visit is between July and September.
Asolo is quite small (less than 10 square miles in area) with a population of some 10,000 residents. Although only one hour from Venice, it seems a world away. Its curved and winding streets are far less touristed and the pace far slower compared to the bustling piazzas and canals of nearby Venice.
Whether you love art, history, architecture, photography or wine, it’s a lovely place to visit away from hordes of tourists in large cities. Here are some reasons to visit Asolo Italy:
Reasons to Visit Asolo Italy
1- Soak in the views, of course
You don’t necessarily have to be a photo bug to appreciate the amazing views of the Venetian Prealp mountains (including Monte Grappa) and the sprawling valleys below, which can be seen from a number of places in the town. On a clear day, it’s possible to see Venice across the Lagoon.
2- Relax near Piazza Garibaldi
Piazza Garibaldi sits in the heart of Asolo. The name of the 16th century fountain at the center, Fontana Maggiore, is probably a remnant of when the piazza itself was called Piazza Maggiore. Quite small and often surrounded by cars and bikes, it’s unlike many other Italian piazzas that serve as virtual living rooms for the towns.
Instead, take a front row seat outdoors at Caffe Centrale for coffee, gelato, or aperitivi with a Rosso cocktail to soak in views of the fountain (that has a lion on top crafted by a Venetian sculptor) and much of the historic architecture of the town. The cafe has been a meeting point for artists and intellectuals since 1700.
3- Tour Villa Freya
Freya Stark, an English writer, explorer, and photographer was one of the first women with the moxie to travel to the Middle East and other distant lands across the globe.
Her restored villa in Asolo, Villa Freya, might be considered a living museum, which is now owned by the province. She lived here as a young girl with her mother and sister, and retired there until the time of her death.
Stark’s travels were seminal for the town. The world traveler entertained royalty and other dignitaries here, expanding Asolo’s borders to embrace other people and cultures. Visitors will especially love the restored garden, which reflects some 2000 years of history, including the remains of a Roman theater dating back to the 2nd century AD.
A guided tour of the park (which offers incredible views of the surrounding Asolan hills) also includes a tour of Asolo.
4- Climb to the top of La Rocca
No trip to Asolo Italy would be complete without a visit to the ruins of its 12th -13th century medieval fortress, La Rocca, located on Monte Ricco. Depending on one’s fitness and pace, the very steep walk to the top (some 270 steps) takes about 15 minutes, following a path lined with olive trees. The reward for completion are the 360° panoramic views as far as the eye can see.
5- Browse the Civic Museum
To learn more about Asolo’s rich local history, head to the Civic Museum of Asolo. Open on weekends, it’s housed in the BIshop’s Palace just off the main piazza (adjacent to the tourist office).
Paintings, archaeological findings, documents and other momentos document the town’s history. The top floor of the three-story museum is dedicated to artifacts of some of Asolo’s most famous citizens, including: English poet Robert Browning, explorer Freya Stark, actress Eleonora Duse. and Caterina Cornaro, the Venetian noblewoman who lived in the castle in Asolo.
6- Pay a visit to the main church
The Romanesque-Gothic Duomo di Santa Maria Assunta, the main parish church of Asolo, is located in a small piazzetta, just steps off the main square. Although it’s built on a site where a Roman temple once stood, the facade was restored in 1889. Be sure to look at the impressive altarpiece inside that dates back to 1448.
7- Relax at The American Bar
Stopping for a cocktail might be the next best thing to an overnight (or longer) stay at the five-star Hotel Villa Cipriani, a short walk up the hill from the town center. This lovely boutique hotel with just 28 rooms and suites was once the home of Robert Browning.
When it was under the management of the legendary Giuseppe Cipriani, the hotelier created The American Bar to mimic the decor of Harry’s Bar in Venice. The warm, wood-paneled room with comfortable club chairs in the perfect spot for a Bellini or Negroni cocktail.
8 – Dine at Trattoria Moderna Due Mori
There are a number of excellent fine dining restaurants in Asolo. Due Mori is unpretentious with great food and service, and lovely decor. Small chandeliers look as if they are covered with dinner napkins and the tiny lights on the table are romantic. Calling itself a modern trattoria, the Venetian food here is seasonal and local with an inventive flair. The views from the terrace are incredible. Do leave room for the excellent tiramisu.
9- Pay homage to a star of theater
Eleonora Duse was considered the greatest actress of her time. Known internationally, she was the subject of gossip, too, for her torrid love affairs with men and women. She was the first woman and the first Italian to grace the cover of Time Magazine in 1923.
Duse lived in Asolo for the last four years of her life and is buried at the Cimitero di Asolo (another place with incredible views). The Duse Theater in Asolo (first built in 1798 and then rebuilt in 1934) is named after the celebrated actress.
A memorial plaque hangs outside the 16th century palace where she once lived on Via Cordova. As noted above, an exhibition at the Civic Museum of Asolo also honors the actress with items donated after her death by her daughter.
10 – Capture vistas at the Civic Tower of Asolo
Also known as the Castle of Caterina Cornaro (the Queen of Cyprus, who once lived there), the Civic Tower (Clock Tower) has an interesting history. Built in wood during the 10th century, it was rebuilt in stone a century later, then served as a prison during World War I.
The upper walls (called the belvedere) and top of the tower offer enchanting landscape views of the town and surrounding countryside. It’s a perfect fallback option for those not up to climbing La Rocca. Inside the courtyard is a small restaurant, great for relaxing over a snack and glass of wine.
11- DO NOT overlook the wines
Since 1985, working closely with local producers, the Consorzio Vini Asolo Wines has aimed to protect and promote the quality of Asolo Prosecco and Vini del Montello.
Asolo Prosecco obtained DOCG status in 2009, the first denomination of this sparkling white wine from northern Italy to include the Extra Brut category. Montello wines include Montello DOCG, an elegant red from grapes that have been grown in the area for some time, and Montello Asolo DOC red and white wines.
The Asolo wine region has more than 90 producers in 18 municipalities in the province of Treviso, both large and small, that provide tastings and vineyard tours. Here are just a few worth checking out:
Wineries in Asolo Italy Worth Visiting
Although Giusti Wine date back to 1600, the newest building at this spectacular winery in Nervesa della Battaglia is thoroughly modern. Open since July 2020, it took five years to build and looks fully integrated into its surroundings—with one of the vineyards covering the roof.
Not only does the winery offer tastings and tours but it also offers lovely accommodations on the historic grounds, which include the partially restored ruins of a 12th-century church and monastery.
Covering 200 acres of land, family-owned Villa Sandi in Crocetta del Modello is also among the largest producers and exporters in the region.
The winery has been ranked among the 100 best in the world for its beauty. Tours of the historic Palladian villa and cellars used as air-raid shelters in World War II are available by reservation.
Bele Casel, third-generation winemakers based in Monfumo, exemplify the handful of heroic small producers in the area.
Part of FIVI, the Federation of Independent Wine Producers, its winery visits and tastings offer opportunities to learn about the Martinotti-Charmat method and ColFondo sparkling wine that is aged on the lees.
Bresolin is a small-family owned, organic winery with a scenic location in the Asolan Hills in Crespignaga di Maser.
Owned and operated by three brothers, they produce excellent olive oil and welcome visitors for wine tastings.
All photo credits: Jerome and Irene S. Levine
IF YOU GO
In terms of location, Asolo is about 20 miles from the city of Treviso, the capital of the Treviso province, and about 90 miles from Verona (another province in the Veneto region).
For further information: Asolo Tourist Information Site
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