Perched on the southwestern ridge of the Asolonian hills, you can spot the light gray medieval fortress from a distance, even at night when it is beautifully lighted up. Driving from Venice, in the South and just one hour away, or arriving from Verona and Vicenza, in the West and another hour or so away, you start spotting the village and its surrounding villas among the greenery, lied on the flanks of the hill. There, they are! Buildings in pale shades of pink and orange, or butter-white, with silvery green or burgundy shutters, here and there a charming tower, whose purpose is nothing but offering incredible vistas.

This is Asolo, “the city of hundred horizons”, a definition invented by the late 19th-century Italian poet Giosué Carducci, whose verses have often been transformed into formidable touristic marketing. But there is some truth in it: the multiplication of horizons derives precisely from the continuous overlapping of the hilly profiles, in a seemingly endless crescendo just looking away to the North, West, and East. It comes with no surprise that Giorgione, who was born just a few kilometers from here and who spent some years of his – alas – short life in Asolo, at the court of Queen Cornaro, the exiled queen of Cyprus and Jerusalem, is considered the inventor of landscape in painting: does The Tempest ring any bell?

Asolo is a beauty you can spot from the distance and get excited about, but… wait! The magic will happen as you pass under the arch of Porta Loreggia, the ancient city entrance from the south. A small fountain on your left and a cobbled street flanked by Renaissance palaces with gothic arcades on the ground floor, hosting an enchanting variety of chic boutiques and rustic osterie, lead you to the main piazza, where you are finally at risk of falling in love with this place, because, as they say, if you don’t lose your heart here, you haven’t got one.

Once a favorite Veneto buen retiro and holiday resort for chic foreigners between the mid-19th century and the mid-1970s’, especially among Brits and Americans, Asolo had progressively fallen almost into oblivion, with international travelers turning their look to other Italian destinations, perceived as more intriguing, lively and energetic. Asolo let it go, leaving the frenzied agenda to the fast tourists. This place calls for slowing down: grab a seat on the terrace of Caffè Centrale, order your foamy cappuccino, a delicious gelato served in old-fashioned tin cups or even a spritz, and let the scenery do the rest.

Enchanting Asolo has not lost an ounce of its allure since the time of Ernest Hemingway, for whom a stop here was almost mandatory on his trips between Cortina and Venezia. Not surprisingly, as the “old Veneto boy” slept in several places and Veneto was one of his favorite destinations. Asolo’s understatement calls for a more refined and discreet cantor of its beauty and who but Robert Browning could be more appropriate? The great English poet visited Asolo briefly in 1838 when he was only 26, but the village must have put a spell on him that lasted all his life: two of his first works, Sordello and Pippa Passes, were inspired by Asolo civic microcosm. His last poem collection, published on the day of his death in 1898, was significantly named Asolando.

The work was dedicated to Mrs. Katherine de Kay Bronson, an American whose villa, La Mura, was a jovial center of attraction for friends, musicians, poets, and artists.

To whom but you, dear Friend, should I dedicate verses—some few written, all of them supervised, in the comfort of your presence, and with yet another experience of the gracious hospitality now bestowed on me since so many a year, —adding a charm even to my residences at Venice, and leaving me little regret for the surprise and delight at my visits to Asolo in bygone days? I unite, you will see, the disconnected poems by a title name popularly ascribed to the inventiveness of the ancient secretary of Queen Cornaro whose palace-tower still over-looks us: Asolare— “to disport in the open air, amuse one’s self at random.”

For sure, asolare in this charming town and its surroundings is truly an enchanting activity: you can start from the city center and walk up (or down) any of the cobbled streets flanked by walls, enclosing bewitching secret gardens, and soon get immersed in easy trails among woods of chestnuts, birches, and beeches, alternated with olive groves, and undulated vines. The verdant landscape, punctuated with cypresses, is a joy for the eyes and the soul.

If Cardinal Bembo ever invented the word, asolare, that falls into the legend as nowhere in his works can be found such a verb. What is true is that the secretary of Caterina Corner, Queen of Cyprus and Jerusalem¸ as she would proudly sign every document until the end of her life, never forgetting that the golden exile in Asolo was just a pale compensation for her lost reign, wrote a dialogue over love, sacred and mundate, Gli Asolani.

“Love” is the leitmotiv in Asolo and I must warn you: this place oozes romanticism from every corner, better you plan to come here with your beloved or get ready to find one in Asolo!


Villa Cipriani Asolo. Housed in a 17th villa, the Cipriani is the epitome of an Old World hotel. This charming hotel was even owned at one time by the English poet Robert Browning. Beautifully appointed with antiques and affording lovely views of the surrounding countryside, we encourage you to situate yourself in the garden, the perfect spot to sit back and enjoy a Bellini.

Where to eat. Trattoria Moderna Due Mori: a historical restaurant totally refurbished and revamped by talented chef Stefano De Lorenzi. The combination of great food and vista is mesmerizing.

Lomo. The dynamic duo of young and talented Alberto and Giulia just opened this gourmet restaurant, devoted to seasonality and local ingredients, vegetarian choices in abundance, sustainability in one delicious menu: change comes even in small but significant steps.

Locanda Baggio. What can I say beyond this is probably the restaurant I love more than any else in the world, whatever the season? When in Asolo, just try it and let me know.

Your daily aperitivo dose at Caffè Centrale, while for a glass of wine or two get to Osteria alle Ore.