Medieval village between the past and the present
The medieval village of Asolo is also known as “the city of the hundred horizons” for its location on the back of the hill in the Province of Treviso. Thanks to its beauty and views through its medieval streets is considered to be the queen of Veneto historic small towns. Due to its security strategic position, was a dwelling since the prehistoric age and, in pre-roman age, was a Venetian seat. It was a roman city hall and linked to Padua through Via Aurelia as well as an episcopal seat from the sixth century until the invasions of the Hungarians in the tenth century. During the Middle Ages it was constantly fought over by the city of Treviso, by the Ezzelini, Carraresi and Scaligeri until in 1337 when it passed under Venice protection.
The Serenissima government gave Asolo to the Queen of Cyprus Caterina Cornaro (1454-1510) as a reward for the loss of her kingdom. In 1489, the Venetian Patrizia widow of James II° King of Cyprus, made his triumphal entry into the quiet town and, since then, it became the destination of famous characters coming from Padua, Venice and the rest of Europe. The Queen of Cyprus lived in the castle. Her luxury life attracted writers and artists. It is expected that in the garden of the villa, Pietro Bembo, the Venetian humanist and writer, had composed the famous conversation “the Asolani”. The tower and the Villa “Barco della Regina still exist.
Other famous characters passed through Asolo: Robert Browing, English poet; Henry James, Amercian writer and literary critic; Hernest Hemingway, American author; Filippo De Pisis, Italian painter and writer and Eleonora Duse, theater Italian actress who lived and was buried.
In the centre of Asolo is located Piazza Maggiore surrounded by buildings with Gothic and Baroque decorations and fresco of the fifteenth century. At the centre of the square, a Renaissance fountain with over the Saint Mark Lion.
On the corner of Via Regina Corsaro, the Loggia del Capitano seat of the Civic Museum, so called because it is decorated by big battle scenes in fresco painting and badges and plaques of masters and magistrates of the Venetian Republic.
The fortress with its strong walls was used as a defensive fortress. It is reachable from the square along the uphill through Porta del Colmarion with the nearby Church and the Monastery of Saints Peter and Paul with the cloister structured on the three sides and the fourth opened towards the slope of the hill. The Cathedral with its protiro (cusp porch) of the fifteenth century dedicated to the church of Santa Maria di Breda of the second half of ‘700 was probably rebuilt on the remnants of a Roman thermal baths. Inside, a youthful masterpiece: Madonna Assunta with Saints Basilio and Antonio Abate of 1506 made by Lorenzo Lotto. The Middle Ages Queen’s castle, was later adapted to the official Corsaro’s residence.
Today, there is the hearing room, the compact Clock Tower and the cut off tower called Reata. Inside, a theater made in honour of Eleonora Duse – at the time, a wood theater that in 1930 was sold, dismantled and rebuilt in the United States. The main streets of Asolo are flanked by beautiful arcades which introduced onto the artisans and traders’ shops. Every second Sunday of the month (except July and August), an important antique market takes place.