Bastardo del Grappa and the Grappa Region in Veneto
Most tourist go to Veneto just to visit Venice. Yet, the region is full of other interesting places offering more authentic experiences. An example? The Bassano del Grappa area.
What is Bastardo del Grappa cheese? A cheese made from milk and Grappa? No, definitely not. Bastardo del Grappa, as well as the Grappa liquor, is named after Monte Grappa, a 1775m massif situated in the Venetian pre-Alps in Northern Italy.
It owes the “bastard” attribute to the fact that anciently it was made only when the milk could nolonger be used to make the more popular Morlacco cheese. Therefore, different cheese making techniques were mixed to produce an “improvised” cheese, in other words a “bastard cheese”. According to another legend this cheese is so called because the herdsmen added goat’s milk to the cow’s milk when the latter was not sufficient.
Today, Bastardo del Grappa is made exclusively from cow’s milk. It is a semi-fat cheese with a soft dough and a pale yellow color. It contains all the flavors of the Grappa region and of its particularly rich and diversified flora.
Itineraries in Veneto: Monte Grappa and Bassano del Grappa
Most tourist go to Veneto just to visit Venice. Yet, the region is full of other interesting places, where it is still possible to live more authentic experiences.
Monte Grappa is famous not only for borrowing its name to the renowned Grappa liquor, but also for its rich history. During World War I, it was one of the protagonists of the main events on the Southern front, when the Austrians tried to pass Monte Grappa to reach the Venetian plain. The Italians tried to hold back the attacks and for that purpose built up the Vittorio Emmanuele Gallery, an underground fortress equipped with gun batteries, sleeping rooms, water tanks, generators and even infirmaries. The remains of 12.615 Italian soldiers and 10.295 Austro-Hungarian soldiers still lying on the Monte Grappa are evidence of the cruel battles which took place in this region. Later on, in 1935, the fascists inaugurated a military memorial monument on the summit of Monte Grappa to honor the soldiers killed there during WWI. Today, all these places and monuments can still be visited. There are even particular war itineraries, guided tours which pass along the most important theaters of war.
Besides, Monte Grappa offers a multitude of possibilities to do outdoor sports like jogging or mountain biking and especially to do mountain-based activities like free flight, climbing or hiking. The climb of Monte Grappa from Bassano del Grappa, situated on the foot of the mountain, is the most famous and maybe the easiest ascent to reach the summit.
Bassano del Grappa is a lovely medieval town between Monte Grappa and the Brenta River. It is renowned for its Ponte Vecchio or Ponte degli Alpini, a wooden bridge built in 1559 by famous and celebrated Andrea Palladio, the most important Renaissance architect in Northern Italy. Nearby, you will find the museum of the Alpini, Italy’s fighting brigade which also rebuilt the bridge after it had been destroyed in World War II.
Bassano del Grappa is even more famous for the production of Grappa, the famous grape-based pomace brandy. The first Grappa distillery opened near the Alpini Bridge in 1779 and was run by Bortolo Nardini. Several Grappa distilleries are still producing their delicious liquor. Many of them offer visits and tastings, besides the possibility to buy the Grappa directly from the distillery.
After a tour of Monte Grappa and Bassano del Grappa, you should not miss a visit to the Riviera del Brenta, an area along the Brenta River between the town of Stra and the commune of Malcontenta. Between the 16th and the 18th century, the local aristocrats built their extravagant and unique Venetian villas (among them are some Palladian villas as well) along the river in the countryside. To admire them, you should book a trip on a Burchiello, once an ancient wooden boat which took noble passengers from Venice to Padua and vice-versa, and today a modern boat equipped with every comfort. But this is another story…