Province of Vicenza, 95 minutes by car from Jesolo
Gold Medal of Military Valour
by Rachele Callegari
Surrounded by hills and crossed by the Brenta river, Bassano del Grappa is a medieval city inhabited since the 10th century BC. which underwent several dominations over time. In 1404, it was donated to the Republic of Venice and became an agricultural town with thriving commercial activities, as it was situated on the trade routes which connected La Serenissima with the Germanic area. It was a crucial point during the First World War, especially after the defeat of Caporetto, when the city was abandoned by the residents for fear of the Austrian advance and hosted various regiments of soldiers heading for the front. At the end of the war, the name of the city changed from Bassano Veneto to Bassano del Grappa, to celebrate the contribution provided by Bassano to the war efforts and to pay homage to the numerous victims buried in the ossuary of Mount Grappa.
The city is also renown for two ancient traditions: ceramics, which is associated with the Antonibon family, and printing, which was introduced in the city by the Remondini family, publishers of the most important printing company in Italy in the 17th century.
The city centre is a true open-air museum: the streets are adorned with many works by famous authors such as Palladio, Canova and Jacopo da Ponte; however the symbol of the city Ponte Vecchio, also known as Ponte degli Alpini, which was designed by Palladio himself.
“On the Bassano bridge we’ll be hand in hand,”
The first evidence of the construction of a bridge that crossed the Brenta river to connect Bassano and Vicenza dates back to 1209; however, the floods in 1567 destroyed the original structure and the new design was entrusted to Palladio, who opted for a wooden bridge, designed to withstand the floods. Despite all the precautions, the bridge was destroyed again in 1748 and re-built three years later. Over time, it collapsed and was built again so many times, up to the most famous, up to the Second World War, when the bridge was bombed by the Allies to stop the German advance. At the end of the war, the bridge was rebuilt according to Palladio’s design and then, thanks to the help of the Alpini – the Italian specialist mountain infantry – to its reconstruction, the bridge was also called Ponte degli Alpini. Actually, already at the end of the First World War, the bridge was dedicated to the numerous soldiers, including many Alpini, who had crossed it to reach Altopiano dei Sette Comuni, where the Italian front was situated. On the walls on the sides of the bridge, it is still possible to see the holes left by the bullets dating back to that period.
The last serious damage was caused by a flood in 1966: on that occasion, the bridge was dismantled and assembled once again after the reinforcement of the structures, which are still subjected to regular protection and maintenance activities.