Thursday, I took what I think is my next to last train trip around the area to Bassano del Grappa. It was originally named just Bassano after Jacopo Bassano who founded the place. Then later on, the name was changed in order to honor the thousands of soldiers who lost their lives in the battles on Mount Grappa during WWI. And even later still, they decided to capitalize on the Grappa thing and sell some liqueur!
The liqueur name grappa comes from 'grappolo' which means a cluster of grapes. Grappa liqueur has been produced in Bassano since 1779 when Bortolo Nardini bought a Grapperia on the Brenta River bank. The Nardini family is still producing it and accounts for about 1/4 of all the grappa sales annually! Grappa is made from the by-products of wine making, the seeds, stems and skins. I was lucky enough to get some free samples of different flavors of grappa. And while it pales in comparison to limoncello (in my humble opinion), it was pretty good!
Bassano del Grappa is also known for the Ponte Vecchio or old bridge which is a wooden pontoon designed by the famous architect Palladio. And the town also has a strong tie to the Alpini which are the elite Italian Alpine mountain troops who had their heydey in WWI and WWII. In the town you will find homage to the Alpini just about everywhere as well as remnants of the war (see the pic with bullet holes on the building).
Around WWII time, there were some actual hangings of partisans by the Germans in the city. They have these well groomed trees that look like gumdrops with plaques and pictures attached to show the people who were hanged from them and the date.
It was certainly a quaint little town and I loved seeing the mountains up close. Oh yeah.....I searched again for the elusive limoncello ceramic glasses because Bassano has their own brand of ceramics. I actually found one (count them--one) that was just made and had yet to be painted or kilned. They told me it was the only one and they werent going to do anything with it, so it really was of no use to me--other than I now know that at least one of them has been made in the world!