Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Bassano del Grappa

Bassano Del Grappa is famous for the spirit Grappa. Grappa is now a protected name in the EU, just like Barolo wine and Parmigiano cheese. To be called grappa, the following criteria must be met:

(1) Produced in Italy
(2) Produced from pomace
(3) Fermentation and distillation must occur on the pomace—no added water

The legend tells that a Roman soldier first distilled Grappa in the northern Italian town of Bassano del Grappa using a distilling equipment stolen in Egypt (“Crisiopea di Cleopatra” 2nd century AD). The city itself was founded in the 2nd century BCE by a Roman called Bassianus, hence the original name Bassano Veneto. After the terrible battles on Mount Grappa in WWI , where thousands of soldiers lost their lives, a decision was made to change the name of the town. In 1928, the name was changed to Bassano del Grappa, meaning Bassano of Mount Grappa, as a memorial to the soldiers killed.

The symbol of Bassano del Grappa is the covered wooden pontoon bridge , which was designed by the architect Andrea Palladio in 1569. The bridge was destroyed many times, the last time during WWII. The Alpine soldiers, or Alpini have always revered the wooden bridge and Bassano del Grappa. After the destruction of the bridge, they took up a private collection and had the bridge completely rebuilt. Often soldiers flock to the bridge to remember and sing songs from their days as alpine soldiers. The bridge is aptly named the Ponte delgi Alpini. 

Aquavite (grappa) Nardini has been produced and bottled in Bassano del Grappa since 1779. The founder of Italy’s most traditional distillery was Bortolo Nardini, who purchased in April of that year, an inn at the eastern entrance of the famous wooden covered Bassano bridge, on the Brenta river bank. The inn soon became the “Grapperia Nardini”, strategically located for both the ample water supply, a necessary element in the distillation process, as well as its accessibility to the local regional markets. The Grapperia Nardini is preserved in its original state allowing it to be included in the exclusive Association of Historical Places of Italy.