Our journey through Antonio Canova's most beautiful places can only start from Asolo. It is here, in fact, that the genius of neoclassicism, produced his first works, in the Falier villa, where he was introduced by his grandfather stonemason.
Famous for its lush hills, the unchanged views since the 17th-century, and the millennial history, Asolo is one of the most beautiful medieval towns in Italy, home to the sumptuous Renaissance court of Caterina Cornaro, queen of Cyprus, a destination for writers, nobles and artists.
Here, a protagonist of the city’s Dolce Vita for over 100 years and an essential stop is the Albergo al Sole, the perfect setting for a sweet awakening with a view, maybe after staying in the famous room “202”, home in the 1920s of actress Eleonora Duse, and the cradle of her love with Gabriele D’Annunzio. For a romantic dinner, a must-do experience is booking a table on the elegant hotel terrace overlooking the Rocca.
To enjoy the “hundred horizons” of Asolo, the nearby Civic Tower is also worth a visit, formerly one of the four towers of Caterina Cornaro’s Castle, from which, climbing to the top, you can enjoy an extraordinary 360° view of the surrounding hills.
Tant que Canova existera on peut acheter l’immortalité. As long as Canova exists, immortality can be bought.
From Asolo, maybe by bike to take advantage of the splendid trails in the area, you can visit Villa Barbaro in nearby Maser. A masterpiece by Andrea Palladio built in the mid-16th century, it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1996 for its great architectural beauty and the precious cycles of frescoes by Paolo Veronese.
For a food & wine treat, the nearby Villa Sandi, a 17th-century Palladian-style residence, where Canova has stayed several times, offers the opportunity to book a guided tour of one of the most beautiful and history-rich wineries in Veneto, visit the fascinating underground galleries, where important events took place during the two world wars, do some shopping of its award-winning wines and maybe ending with a picnic in the vineyards of the wonderful Cartizze hills. The experiences are all organized by Villa Sandi on request; do not miss the candlelight tasting set in the historic galleries.
From here, on the way to Monte Grappa, just follow the signs for the marvelous panoramic road that crosses Val delle Mure, a green hilly expanse that continues uncontaminated and wild for kilometers, populated only by ponds, cows and sheep that graze happily, and colorful wild flowers. Here various paths branch off and you can choose from dozens of itineraries, obviously with a view, to be done on foot, by mountain bike or with snowshoes in winter.
The area, especially in Borso del Grappa, is one of the European capitals of free flight. Very famous among sportlovers, there are many flying fields and schools that practice, in particular, the disciplines of paragliding.
If you want to enjoy the bike& fly experience, you can book the Hotel Garden Relais, with spa & swimming pool, located right next to one of the most beautiful landing fields, where you can admire the spectacle of seeing the colorful sails hovering in the air.
Suggestive places, silent witness of the First World War, they are today a real open-air museum, scattered with original war trenches, as well as many flora and fauna beauties. Another experience not to be missed is to stop and eat in one of the typical huts that offer the famous farm-to-table cheeses of the area, such as Morlacco and Bastardo del Grappa, before continuing towards Cima Grappa.
Once you reach the top of Monte Grappa, preferably at sunset, the view will really make your heart beat, wrapped in the magic of the War Memorial. Inaugurated in 1935 to remember the sacrifice of the Great War, it offers one of the most beautiful panoramas in Veneto as it is built at 1776 meters above sea level.
In the area, you can stop at the Hotel Antica Abbazia, at the foot of Monte Grappa, built where once was located the ancient abbey of the Benedictine nuns of which historical testimonies are still visible, such as the small church dedicated to the Abbess Santa Felicita.
On the way to Possagno, another very convenient stop is the Hotel San Giacomo. Located in Paderno del Grappa, the wine hotel, housed in an ancient tavern dating back to the 18th century, has an excellent wine bar, La Vineria, open also open to non-guests.
The grand finale of this Canovian Grand Tour includes booking a visit to the Gypsotheca and the Temple.
The Gypsotheca in Possagno houses the largest collection in the world of plaster models of Canova’s sculptures. Inaugurated in 1836 and partially beautifully restored by Carlo Scarpa in 1957, it opens with the famous Hall of Mirrors, a perspective apotheosis of the artist’s most famous statues that will literally leave you breathless with its beauty. Do not miss a visit to the museum by candlelight, an event that has now become a cult even overseas, truly unique in the world.
The tour ends at sunset by climbing the steps of what is Canova’s artistic testament, designed by the sculptor himself right at the foot of his beloved Monte Grappa. The archpriest church of the Holy Trinity, known as the Canovian Temple, was inspired by the great Pantheon of Rome. A majestic architecture whose magic will not fail to leave a truly unforgettable emotion in your heart.
Upon returning to Asolo, a romantic dinner awaits you in one of the many restaurants near Piazza Garibaldi, the center of the city’s night life.
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