Asolo History

Defined by Giosuè Carducci as the city of a hundred horizons, Asolo is one of the most suggestive historic centers in Italy. Gathered within the ancient walls that branch off from the Rocca, a 12th-century fortress, it preserves evidence of its millenary history in every corner.

The charm of art and the magic of the landscape have always made Asolo a destination for poets and writers, artists and travelers, who found inspiration and harmony here. Among them are the English poet Robert Browning, the Goddess of theater Eleonora Duse, the composer Gian Francesco Malipiero, and the English writer and traveler Freya Stark.

The prosperous setting, the mild climate and the amenity of the places have made Asolo a destination for settlements and a crossroads of civilizations since prehistoric times.

Nestled among the gentlest hills of the region, Asolo rises where the ancient Acelum was located, mentioned by Pliny the Elder in the 1st century AD. Roman Asolo went through a period of great growth: the city, which also became a municipium, developed mainly between the first century. B.C. and 1st cent. A.D. Archaeological remains and finds document the presence of thermal baths, an aqueduct, a forum and a theater as evidence of the importance of Asolo in Roman times. Ancient Christian center, already in the sixth century it had a bishop and maintained the episcopal see until 969 when it became a fief of the bishopric of Treviso. At alternate periods between the 11th and 14th centuries it experienced the hegemony of various powerful families (Tempesta, Ezzelini, da Camino, Scaligeri, Carraresi) and, finally, of Venice. Starting from the end of the 1300s with the Venetian domination, the city entered a phase of great splendour: in 1489 Venice invested Caterina Cornaro with the Signoria of Asolo, former queen of Cyprus, who gave life to a sumptuous Renaissance court of artists, writers and poets, leaving an indelible mark on the city’s art and ideal. Venice gave Asolo an important urban rearrangement and bound it to itself and its aristocracy in an essential way until the fall of the Serenissima. In 1797 Napoleon made his entrance there. In the 18th century with the Austrian domination Asolo was affected by reforms of civil institutions and by a program of public works, such as the restructuring of the Duse theater. Finally in 1866 it became part of the Kingdom of Italy.

Caterina Cornaro, former Queen of Cyprus, in exile in Asolo since 1489, knew how to create a splendid Renaissance court in the castle that still bears her name today. Eleonora Duse, Goddess of international theater, came to Asolo to rest from the fatigue of the stage and she too chose to be buried there. Freya Stark, explorer, writer and photographer, had Asolo as a privileged destination for her return from her travels and she too was buried here, in the cemetery of S.Anna.
Pietro Bembo wrote the “Asolani” precisely during the years of his stay with Queen Cornaro; the nature in which she is immersed lives again in the paintings of Giorgione, Lotto, Bassano; the grace of the landscape inspired the genius of Palladio, Massari, Canova; Gian Francesco Malipiero composed the “Poemi Asolani” for piano and the poet Robert Browning told in his verses the essence of the beautiful Venetian town by coining the term “Asolando”, or “go for a walk freely abandoning yourself to the beauty of nature”.