It is impossible to capture in a few lines the pleasure of a visit to Asolo, a “rare town of houses that speak” (Manlio Brusatin). One can start from the central piazza, today named after Garibaldi, with its old fountain beneath the lion of St. Mark.
The Cathedral was rebuilt in 1747, but its façade retains its original Romanesque structure. Inside, there are important art works, such as the Assumption, a masterpiece by Lorenzo Lotto (1506).
The Loggia della Ragione was the hub of administrative life; in the Sala della Ragione there are the coats of arms of the Asolo podestas. The façade facing the square has a fresco by Contarini.
Taking Via Browning, one comes to the Palazzo Polo with its elegant three-mullioned windows, the Tabacchi house where Browning wrote the Asolando verses, the Zen fountain (1571) and Villa Freya, the residence of the Stark family.
Entering the center from the south, from Porta Loreggia, and taking the shady Foresto Vecchio road, one reaches the Malipiero house, where the Venetian musician lived, and the Church of San Gottardo.
Going up the picturesque Via Bembo, one passes alongside the fortified walls that lead to the Fortress and back to the piazza. From here one can go on foot up Via Regina Cornaro between two wings of the 15th-century buildings with porticoes and decorated with frescoes. To the left is the Castello della Regina, or Queen’s Castle, today Teatro Duse, with the Civic tower and the smaller Reata tower.
Going back down, on the left is Via Sottocastello with the gate of the same name, and Palazzo Beltramini, now the town hall. Before going back down along contrada Canova, it is worthwhile taking a look at Via Belvedere, where the Jewish community lived until 1547.
On Via Canova there is the Duse house and, below Porta Santa Caterina, the De Maria house and the small, pretty Church of Santa Caterina, with frescoes from the 1300s.
Farther ahead on the left is Palazzo Pasquali, with a stone plaque commemorating Napoleon’s stay 1797 and, past the Villa de Mattia, the “Longobard” house. On the hill called “degli Armeni” there is a fine fresco in Villa Contarini. Going up the narrow Via Sant’Anna, one arrives at the church of the same name. Its cemetery holds the tombs of Eleonora Duse and Freya Stark.
Returning to the central piazza, taking Via Dante one passes the elegant Villa Scotti on the right before coming to the former Benedictine monastery of San Pietro.
Finally, passing through Porta Colmarion, 276 steps lead up to the Rocca, a medieval fortress (13th cent.), at the top of Mt. Ricco. There is a splendid view of the surrounding countryside from its bastions.
The local products
Colli Asolani DOC wines.
The local dishes
Pasta and beans.