After fighting through crowds of tourists in cities like Rome and Venice, in stifling heat, it is a pleasure to arrive in Bassano del Grappa; hardly a tourist anywhere to be found and the air feels crisp and clean.
What a shame that so few tourists ever visit this lovely city; there is so much too see and it is such a beautiful place with a charming ambience all of its own.
Apart from the old buildings, narrow streets, little piazzas and lovely churches there is the famous wooden bridge. If that isn't enough then the natural setting is extraordinary, you almost feel as if you are in an alpine village, what with towering snow-capped mountains all around and the crystal clear Brenta river running through the town centre.
Come here during the chilly days of winter, when mornings are very bright and rather fresh, and you'll quickly understand why the traditional heart-warming grappa is drunk from morning to night. Not surprising either when you consider that the city is the home of the best grappa in the world!
Enough said and anyway words can never describe Bassano properly so let me get onto the photos. Last thing though, if you do visit I'd recommend you stay at the very pleasant Hotel Dal Ponte.
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Everything about Bassano's wooden bridge, originally designed by Andrea Palladio in 1569, is wonderful. It looks gorgeous from a distance but perhaps loveliest of all is the view from the bridge itself. The bridge has been destroyed and faithfully restored on a number of occasions, last time after WW2. Take the time to enjoy a grappa in the famous 250 year old disitillery at the entrance to the bridge. You do need to be in a group of six or more though and book ahead; details on their website.
In 1834 George Sand described being in this city as "one of the greatest fortunes that could ever befall a traveler". You know what? She was right!
I've always loved these open-air cinemas that pop up throughout Italy during summer. This is the one in the park in Bassano.
Bassano del Grappa is famous for ceramics and they have a great ceramics museum in Palazzo Sturm, which is along the river, just before the wooden bridge.
The old town is such a pleasure to stroll around. Not only are many of the roads pedestrianized but there is none of the summer tourist crush that you find in many other Italian cities.
The 18th century Church of Saint Francis and next door there is the Civics Museum with some interesting archeological finds and important artworks by artists like Rembrandt and Spagnoletto.
A great little bar in quaint Vicolo Jacopo da Ponte.
Elegant Viale dei Martiri (two photos above) provides great views across Bassono and towards the mountains.
Mom and child - Italians love family!
Grappa toothpaste...not sure I could do this one.