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Report 2013: Two Splendid Weeks in Northern Italy

By Engred from Oregon, Fall 2011

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Page 5 of 14: Off to Asolo

Our day started early with our ride to FCO for the 10:00am Alitalia flight from Rome to Venice. The flight itself not luxurious by any stretch of the imagination, but what could you expect from (essentially) a commuter flight. The flight was uneventful and took just over an hour. Making our way down to baggage claim, the luggage took its time arriving. That might have been the first sign that there might be an issue. Long story short, one piece of J and M’s luggage did not make it (of course, the important piece). Turns out it ended up in Pisa! With Guido’s help (lots of translation) all of the paperwork was filled out and contact information entered, so when the luggage arrived we would know.

Slightly deflated, we made our way to the van rental. We found the van, piled the luggage in, got settled and off we went. It was warm, so we turned on the air conditioning (A/C), which worked great in the front seat for Guido and I, but there was nothing happening in the back for J & M and Jules. Not good for a driving tour of the Veneto and Friuli-Venezia Giulia (FVG). So after driving down the road for a while and not figuring out the issue, we turned around and went back to the car rental place. While Guido was discussing the availability of replacement vans (i.e., no other vans available), I just started pushing buttons and finally found the one that finally worked! Yay – disaster #2 averted!

So we were finally off on our adventure through the Veneto and FVG! We drove right to Treviso, which is a very picturesque town. Since we were there on a Monday, the fish market was not open, Guido pointed out the very charming spot where it is located, very appropriate right next to the river running through town. Having found a spot to park, we strolled through town to our lunch destination – Fermi (Via San Parisio 15/17). So, this is one of those places that I hope to find wherever I am traveling, but it is all the sweeter when we find one in Italy. The front of the establishment is a store, selling prepackaged and freshly prepared foods. They had a wonderful selection and I decided there were a couple of items I would have to bring back with me. Then Guido led us through a doorway into the back room, which was a bright modern restaurant with a gorgeous wood bar where we had lunch!

Baccala is one of the house specialties, so we started with an antipasti spread of baccala montecato, stewed baccala, pickled radicchio and polenta squares. The pickled radicchio was such a great contrast to the creamy baccala and polenta squares. We followed with bigoli and salsa (the salsa is low cooked onions and anchovies - very typical Venetian dish), spaghetti with bottarga (amazing) and a couple of dishes of sauteed prawns (so simple and delicious). Fully satiated with the wonderful food, we stopped in the store and purchased a couple of items (jars of their pickled radicchio) before wandering through town on our way back to the van. Treviso is a lovely town with great architecture, some of which looks like the river is running through the basement of the buildings. There were many beautiful porticoes, great for walking and dining under cover.

We then made the short drive to Asolo, which would be our “home base” for the next three nights. The town of Asolo is quite small, with only 9,000 residents. It is compact, with a small central piazza and gorgeous gardens scattered throughout the town (as we would soon discover). We drove up to our hotel, Albergo al Sole (Via Collegio, 33), and checked in. The family-run hotel was a charming 16th century four-story villa, with gorgeous gold and coral plaster. Our room was very nice and had a view of the nice garden of the villa across the street and of the central piazza.

After we freshened up Jules and J decided to stay in for a nap, and M, Guido and I met Laura Serafin, from Bell Asolo, ( who was our guide for the next couple of hours. She led us on a nice walking tour of town, explaining some of the history and architecture. Asolo is truly a charming town, with interesting buildings and walls, along with beautiful views. It is not hard to see why the town has been popular with Brits for over a century. Laura showed us a beautiful manicured garden, with lovely statuary and amazing views over a small valley to the other side of town. We walked back to the center of town, stopping in to see a small church which had some beautiful restored frescoes. Crossing through town, we walked below the porticoes, window shopping on our way to the next garden. Unfortunately, the garden is behind a tall wall and we couldn’t get to gate open. Laura promised that she would solve the mystery of the key and bring us back for a tour in the morning.

So we wandered back through town, back to our hotel. On the way, I noticed a sign for a Hotel Astoria (the name of a town near where I grew up), so I felt right at home! After a short rest, we met for an aperitivo in the hotel bar before moving to the terrace for dinner. My only notes for the meal were that Jules had burrata with tomatoes, followed by lamb and it was very good! Following the nice relaxing meal, we retired to our rooms for the night.

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