Bassano del Grappa & Marostica, Italy ~ Sept 2022

We had purchased tickets to see Andrea Bocelli in Marostica, Italy in 2019 but then Covid hit and everything in the World came to a screeching halt. We received notice that our tickets would be honored the next year for the re-scheduled concert, but another year rolled around, and the world remained closed for tourism. Again, we received notice that the concert was re-scheduled for September 2022. We had gone on a big two-week trip to Europe with our group of friends in June, so weren’t sure whether to go ahead with our trip to Italy in September.

Wally discovered that Hauser/2Cellos was playing the next week after Bocelli in Verona, so that decided me. I love Hauser’s cello playing, and Wally discovered that their 2Cellos duo show featured lots of our favorite rock hits. So we decided, why not?!, and booked the trip. And I’m so glad I did! We booked our flights on Delta from Nashville through Atlanta to Venice, Italy. We had flown out of Venice the previous year, so knew it was an easy airport to arrive and depart. https://www.delta.com/

We almost always fly overnight to Europe, and I awoke with the sunrise – what a breathtaking view from the sky! We landed and collected our luggage, then headed towards the rental car building next door. Wally had reserved our rental car through Sixt Rent a Car, and splurged on a convertible since it was just the two of us. Their car rental pickup area is very weird – you go into a tall concrete building, go up the elevator to the top level and go outside where there are a few rental car buildings and kiosks set up around the parking lot. Sixt is inside a little room as you walk out the door – but there’s not a sign for it!! You get checked in and get your keys, then go back into the building, down the elevator to the car storage levels. https://www.sixt.com/betahome/#/

Our Airbandb host Lucio had recommended a sweet little town for us to stop for lunch on our way to Bassano del Grappa. It has a continuous curved walled portico with a pretty little church at the end. Unfortunately none of the restaurants he had recommended were open at that time except a little coffee cafe, so we snapped a few pictures and drove onward. I’ll have to add the name latter when I run across it in my notes.

We had stopped off in Bassano del Grappa the previous year for lunch and a quick walk around, and I decided it would make the perfect place to stay for our first two nights. It was just a 10-minute drive to Marostica to see Andrea Bocelli’s concert, and a nice base for some sightseeing. I found an awesome (although a little more than we usually like to spend) apartment with a little balcony overlooking the river. We texted back and forth with Lucio (he prefers Whatsapp), to arrange our meeting time and location. He had us meet in a parking lot just a short distance from the apartment to unload our car, and then we had the choice of paying to stay in that lot or parking down the hill in a free lot. We chose the free lot since we needed to walk, and didn’t plan on going anywhere that evening.

Lucio and his son were very nice, helping us with our luggage and showing us around their fabulous apartment. I LOVED the swing in the living room with a view of the river – how fun is that! The apartment was lovely and very comfortable, furnished with vintage and antique pieces. In the kitchen, they had local snacks, beer, wine, jams and yumminess, along with coffee and teas and other essentials.

https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/42635438?c=.pi80.pkYm9va2luZy92MV9taWdyYXRpb24vcmVzZXJ2YXRpb25fYWNjZXB0YW5jZV9jb25maXJtYXRpb25fZ3Vlc3Q%3D&euid=e11cc297-56f7-4897-7072-2cbf297f83f0&source_impression_id=p3_1671037791_eAifCyXSNG3EZqgI

One of my favorite things in the apartment was the wire heron in the window. Our Florida home is located in the Wild Heron neighborhood, so I was really envious of this lovely creation!

Here’s a quick video to show you our view from the little balcony…

Our bed was fitted with all linen sheets and bedding, which I LOVED!! I asked Lucio where they had purchased the linens in hopes I could buy some, however, it was in the opposite direction from where we were going when we departed.

Cocktails and sunset views before a walk around town…

The view of the buildings mirrored in the still river is stunning with the mountains in the background.

I really should have gone back and tried on those furry slippers! There were so many pretty things in the shops! I could have spent a fortune, but luckily I’m pretty content just to take pictures of them so we can afford more trips : ) Having walked around both sides of town, we got a pretty good idea of where everything was. And most importantly, we found the local bakery Bottega del Pane, so we knew where to go for breakfast in the morning!

Gorgeous silvery blue twilight! Bassano del Grappa is a lovely town, day and night! There were a few tourists during the afternoon, but it was very quiet at night, with the locals going about their usual business.

The silvery blue deepened to an electric blue that was quite magical! We love walking around historic Italian cities at night, when the golden glow of lighting accents the details of the architecture, and lovingly arranged displays in the windows. The atmosphere becomes dreamy!

We had lunched at Tetley’s Pub the year before, and that was our dinner destination. I think we had been dreaming of those burgers topped with fresh brioche buns, slabs of perfect bacon, and golden fries for a while – I mean look at them!!! And we ate every bite!

Morning view of the river and time to plan our day.

First plan of action, breakfast at Bottega Del Pane! Along with all their offerings, they are famous for their “pizettas” – tiny pizzas, perfect for a meal for one. I picked out some creme-filled pastries and a tiny fruit pie to sample – yum! https://www.bottegadelpane.com/home.html

Walking to our car…

I let Wally choose our destination for the day, and he wanted to drive up into the mountains and the Dolomites National Park. From Bassano del Grappa you drive up a deep valley leading into the mountains, and then we split off towards the right up another valley. We passed lots of pretty towns along the way with stately architecture of the area.

It was a cloudy, misty day, and as we got further into the mountains it was even darker.

We arrived in a little valley with a lake, and signs for the park let us know we had arrived. There was almost no one there and the restaurants, concessions and restrooms were all closed for the season. We only saw a tiny section of the park, but that was all the time we had for the day. https://national-parks.org/italy/dolomiti-bellunesi

We drove on up the little valley to see what lay ahead… The ragged peaks kept pulling us farther onward! And without warning, we were driving through a series of small (one car wide only) tunnels that were carved from the mountains. They wound along the side of the valley for a few miles, and we were so happy we didn’t meet any other cars! After we had gone a little while the road split, and we realized we were out of the park area and needed to head back some to find trails.

Here’s your taste of scary…

Did I mention those tunnels were scary, as you couldn’t tell if someone else was getting ready to race head on into you as you exited and vice versa?

We found a trail head next to a bridge crossing the river in the valley, and set off to see where it led. There were groves of hazelnut bushes all along the way, and I would love to see them full of nuts! This trail was moderate with nicely defined paths that began to ascend upward after a little ways. Of course I had forgotten my walking sticks.

When we got up a bit higher on the trail we heard the sound of falling water, and discovered a series of small waterfalls and pools of crystal clear water. So pretty!

The trail crossed over and descended back down the other side. Some hikers were choosing to continue farther upward on the trail, but it was steeper than I wanted to do.

I recognized several of the wildflowers along the way – cyclamen and butterfly bush that we have at home that they sell in our garden centers!

Done with that trail, we drove back towards the entrance, parking at the main parking area next to the lake.

Such a pretty turquoise color with the mountains rising from both sides! I bet this lake is busy in the summertime! We spotted some fish, but couldn’t tell what kind they were.

Honeybees!

Time to head back to Bassano del Grappa, backtracking the way we came. Such a variety of architecture and building styles – chalets to Liberty style to ancient stone and brick.

As we were passing through the pretty town of Feltre nestled in the hills, I was on the lookout for restaurants as we were hungry. I saw an ancient looking part of town perched on the hill, and directed Wally upward. We parked just outside the gate, and walked in to see what the little town held.

Here’s a good link that offers more information about the history of Feltre – https://www.dolomiti.it/en/feltre

So much history and beauty in this ancient town! We walked around a bit and there was one small pizzeria that was open and serving, however, due to previous pizza orders, it was going to be about an hour, so we moved on.

Driving back through the big valley to Bassano del Grappa – there’s little villages, towns and vineyards clinging to the hillsides and along the river running alongside the highway.

Back in Bassano del Grappa and crossing the river – Tetley’s Pub has a great view over the river from their outdoor balcony.

The free parking lot at the base of town has a pretty sloping trail leading up to the heart of town. Wildflowers were everywhere on the grassy slope.

The King Kong Rhino located in the courtyard of the Musei Civica overlooking the Brenta River is a popular stop for tourists. While I was there, a tour bus group stopped off to get their photos with the fabulous rhino before loading back up and zipping off to their next stop. I inquired about the current exhibit at the museum, but decided to skip it, but you can learn more at: https://www.museibassano.it/en

It was just a 10-minute drive from Bassano del Grappa to Marostica for the Andrea Bocelli concert, and we arrived at dusk. Marostica is a small town that is famous for their live chess event they hold on their piazza in September. We were excited to finally get to see Bocelli two years after the Covid postponement. There was lots of convenient parking, and we were charmed by the fortress walls of the town silhouetted against the blue twilight sky. When we crossed through the gates and into the piazza area, colored accent lights lit up the walls.

Learn more about Marostica at: https://www.visitmarostica.eu/en/

We walked around the streets leading off from the piazza, and most of the businesses showcased chess boards amongst their merchandise in their artfully arranged windows. The cafes and restaurants were full of people having dinner and cocktails before the performance began.

Show time! What a fantastic setting for a concert, and Bocelli and his guests were amazing as always!

Here’s a short taste of the show…

After the show, we went back to the Storico bar to get another round of drinks while the crowd thinned out of the piazza. The young bartenders were having a great time, entertaining everyone as they busily made drinks. I’m sure they were happy to have a crowd back in town after two years of no events!

We made it back to our apartment in Bassano del Grappa, and had one last night cap on the piazza with a crowd of young people.

To my dismay, we awoke very late the next morning and had to rush around and pack up to check out. We had an appointment for a tour and wine tastings at the nearby Le Vie Angarano estate, located just a five-minute drive from the town center.

The directions on our gps had us turning in a street before the actual entrance, so if you go, you turn into the driveway with the long cream-colored building shown below left. We were feeling hungover and a bit frazzled from our rushed morning, but I was so glad we made it! Another couple arrived after us to take the same tour and after talking, we found they were from New York and had been to the Bocelli concert also – and were also hung over…

We were greeted by a friendly lady at their office, and began our tour of the estate. Five Bianchi Michiel sisters own the estate, which has been in their family since 1548. Villa Angarano was designed by architect Andrea Palladio and commissioned by his close friend Giacomo Angarano in 1548. From their history on their website, “In 1996 Villa Angarano was included in UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites’ list as part of “City of Vicenza and the Palladian Villas of the Veneto”.”

The sisters began their wine project “Le Vie Angarano” in 2020, along with their winemaker Marco Bernabei, with their majestic Palladian Villa Angarano as the centerpiece of the estate. Learn more about this amazing estate and it’s history at: https://www.levieangarano.com/en/

Our tour started in the courtyard of The Granary, where various wine tanks are displayed that have been used through the years. I loved the sunny columned porches (barchesse) along the inner section with dining and resting areas.

Behind the villa is a lovely lawn with unusual “beehive” pine trees and a variety of unusual species. A pool accented by a bank of pink roses is probably a favorite spot in the summertime to relax and sip some of their divine wine! The back of the villa is just as impressive as the front!

This was a working farm for centuries, and I loved the charming chicken house and garden outbuildings. Their orangery and cold frames have inspired me to work on some at home, so I can lengthen our growing season. They have a nice garden and little orchard on the edge of the yard that was still bearing fruit.

Nice spot for a photo…

Being a former horse person, I was charmed by the stable. Today they use it as a dining hall for events, with the stalls creating fun dining booths.

What a lovely villa!

Done with our tour, we returned to the office to pay for our tour and wine tasting, which was up next.

We were introduced and followed the second sister, Giovanna, who is the driving force behind the rejuvenation of the estate and wine making, to the Barrel Room. We had been enjoying chatting with the other American couple, and had recovered from our earlier malaise. Time to drink again!

Giovanni speaks good English and we enjoyed asking her lots of questions about the wines, vineyard growing and things about the estate. She is passionate about the quality of their certified organic wines, and happy to talk about the process. We really liked several of the wines, and ended up buying quite a few bottles to drink along the way. We took the delicious dessert wine home with us to share with friends. I think the other couple also bought a case or two.