History

Asolo shows traces of settlements as early as the year one thousand B.C., and later documented traces of the Romans, as in the theatre built in the first century A.D. The Ezzelini family, the Swabians and the Germanic emperors who dominated Asolo across different historical periods initiated the construction of towers, castles and fortresses, which spread out into the surrounding territory, to protect other equally wealthy fiefdoms such as Treviso and Padua.

The dominion of the Republic of Venice began when, having “cultivated the sea”, it turned to the mainland. The structural and hydraulic engineering projects by the architect and monk Frà Giovanni Giocondo, were successful in making the walls of cities such as Treviso and Padua invincible and in deriving a canal (known as the Brentella) from the river Piave as part of a massive irrigation project. 

At that particular moment in history when, in this territory, culture was merging with cultivation, queen Caterina Cornaro gave up her kingdom of Cyprus to come to Asolo and found a court of artists and literati (Giorgione, Lorenzo Lotto and Pietro Bembo) to build a new culture of dialogue between the rulers and the ruled, and advocating the unity and beauty of the language of Dante and Petrarch. Following the consolidated tradition of increasing the wealth of the land of Asolo, Queen Caterina Cornaro brought vines of Malvasia grapes with her from Cyprus, a variety of wine that is fully consolidated within the range of white wines today.

The landscape of Asolo was preserved by its abandon after the decline of the Most Serene Republic, but survived in dignified poverty, until it was rediscovered by English poet Robert Browning, who walked these hills far and wide. 

The discovery of the trails across the hills, with the mandatory stop to enjoy the view over Col San Martino, must be credited to a fellow citizen of Robert Browning’s, Freya Stark, who visited every corner of the territory around Asolo on foot. On her daily walks, she often stopped to talk to the few inhabitants she met, before returning to Colle Sant’Anna. She lived to the age of one hundred, and now rests beside another woman with a restless soul and a dramatic fate, Eleonora Duse, who died in Pittsburgh in the United States, but is buried here in the green garden of Sant’Anna, beside the great sacred Mount Grappa.