Two weekends ago Ryan had...
...the WEEKEND OFF, which is unheard of for a hockey player in the middle of his season. So we decided to celebrate by heading to Bassano del Grappa (located in the province of Vicenza) for a night. Here are a few pictures if you'd like to see and a few recommendations if you're in the area...
1. Order a "mezzo e mezzo" to drink on the Ponte degli Alpini - The Ponte degli Alpini is the famous covered bridge of Bassano del Grappa. Originally designed by Palladio, but rebuilt several times, its name refers to Italy's Alpine troops, the "Alpini" who rebuilt it after it was destroyed in World War Two.
The "mezzo e mezzo" is the signature aperitivo of Bassano del Grappa (recipe here). You can order one from the Nardini Grapperia which is located at one end of the bridge, and then take it outside to hang out on the bridge and chat with friends.
2. Poli Museo della Grappa - Bassano del Grappa is famous for inventing grappa (of course) and this museum teaches you the history of grappa, how it's made and why it's important to Italy....plus, you can sample a few different kinds at the end.
3. Museo degli Alpini - This tiny, two-room museum is located in the basement of the Taverna al Ponte, just off the bridge. It's fun to have a coffee upstairs in the tavern, and then head downstairs to check out their collection of photos and letters from World War One, and specifically the battle at Monte Grappa.
4. Try a new wine - One of our favorite things to do on trips is to sit outside in cafes, people-watching because you can really get a feel for the city and the locals this way. This time, we discovered Valpolicella Ripasso - not really local to Bassano del Grappa as it's made in the Veneto, near Verona - but now we can't get enough of it.
5. Eat radicchio - Bassano del Grappa is about 30 miles from Treviso, the home of red radicchio - which spills into Bassano as well. On this trip, we ate radicchio with steak, in ravioli with hazelnuts, mixed with sausage and fresh pasta and on slices of pizza.
6. Buy grappa and ceramics - If you're looking for souvenirs, grappa is the obvious choice. Grappa gets a bad reputation for being strong (and frankly, quite often disgusting) but we took home a bottle of blueberry grappa which is delicious. There are so many different flavors, it's easy to find one that you like. Bassano is also known for their ceramics and there are lots of little shops that we had fun exploring before settling on a dish that now sits on our kitchen table.
7. Walk, walk, walk - We spent most of Sunday morning wandering around the city, poking our heads into the churches and bread shops and cafes. As you can see from the picture below, everyone else was doing the same thing...