I felt an overwhelming sense of peace and joy the first time I visited Asolo. It has that effect on all who discover it.
For centuries, artists, poets, and writers have been drawn here...many have never left again. Spend a few nights at the Albergo al Sole, tucked away in the town's little piazza, and you'll start feeling the same way.
If you are in Venice, and don't have the time to spend a night or two in Asolo, then at least do a day trip here - something like this one.
Let's go and explore...
The parking areas are outside the old town, and the walk into town is lovely; all around you are gorgeous vistas of green hills, cypress trees, and rural bliss. Then, as you reach the old town, you will likely pass under this arch and discover that you've stepped into another century. Arcaded walkways lead one along cobbled lanes and with every turn there is something enchanting awaiting you: views, piazze, a tiny boutique, or... well one just never knows what awaits. You will have to make your own discoveries when you visit.
If you get here at lunch or dinner time make sure you eat at Al Bacaro - the best place in town to try the delicious local cuisine. I always end up chatting away to the many fascinating locals who eat here and I've chatted on occasions to people who I later discovered were famous artists, writers and once a well-known actor - at least well known to everyone but me.
Next door is the Robert Browning Gallery dedicated to the poet who loved Asolo.
The road the Al Bacaro is on is full of flowers. the restaurant is located where you see those barrels in the photo.
The Asolo Cathedral is one of the main historical sights in the town, parts of it date back to the 10th century.
Heading away from the piazza, you first pass by the 13th-century castle of Queen Cornaro. Queen Conaro was the last queen of Cyprus, and after Cyprus was taken over by Venice, she was exiled to Asolo.
As you leave town, you start to come across the famous villas dating from the 16th century. The Villa Contarini (also known as the Armenian Villa) is the most famous, but the rather peculiar little Longbard Villa, with a dozen caricature faces all over it, is my favorite.
Walk back into town, passing the old and abandoned Carabinieri (police) building, which is slowly being covered by ivy. Once in town, you'll come across the main piazza again and then begin your climb up to the fortress.
Now we start heading up the hill...
After the lane with the pretty little cottages seen in the photos above, you'll arrive at the old monastery, built in the 16th century and now home to a university MBA program. Fill up your bottle with water at the drinking fountain here before beginning the 300 steps up to the fortress.
The views on the way up are gorgeous...
The castle tower and fortress are very imposing, with walls 50 feet high and nearly 14 feet wide. It was apparently built in the 12th century, but its origins are still shrouded in mystery. The views from up here are spectacular—on a clear day, you can see all the way to Venice!
I hope you enjoyed exploring Asolo, and perhaps I'll see you here next summer. For more on Asolo, click here.