The region of the Veneto is not only the center of Italian cycling, but as the existing remnants of the Venetian Republic, it is also a treasure trove for tourists and history buffs. Our location in Castelcucco means we are conveniently located to the famous towns and cities of the Veneto, including Venice, Padua, and Verona, among many others.
The Veneto’s combination of flat plains, rolling vineyard hills, and big mountains make it the perfect location for training and riding. It is also the center of Italian amateur cycling; many weeks there are more events in the Veneto than the rest of Italy combined! Whether you are interested in rolling road races, flat notturne, or epic Gran Fondos, the Veneto is the region for you!
In the 5th century AD, barbarians were mainly interested in the wealth of the mainland, so part of the Venetian population sought refuge on some of the isolated and unoccupied islands in the lagoon, from which the city of Venetiae or Venice was born. The Venetian Republic enjoyed 1100 years of uninterrupted influence in the Mediterranean until Napoleon’s invasion in 1797. This long period of wealth and relative peace on the mainland enabled the development of many of the cities and towns so famous today; Asiago, Asolo, Bassano, Marostica, Padua, Vicenza, and Verona to name but a few, all of which are easily accessible from Velo Veneto.
Those who appreciate art and architecture will savor the Veneto’s treasures. Among them are Palladio’s Villa Barbara in nearby Maser; Canova’s tempio up the hill in Possagno; and the ancient, hilltop town of Asolo. You can shop in sophisticated Bassano del Grappa, or visit the stalls of a colorful mercato, which can be found almost every day in a nearby town.
While the Veneto is famous for jewels like Venice, Treviso, Padua and Verona, there are many unique though lesser-known towns within an easy bike ride of Castelcucco, each with its own charm and distinction. Here are two examples:
The hilltop torre or “La Rocca” of Asolo can be seen for miles in any direction. This medieval town is the personification of romantic Italy, and dates back to centuries past. Narrow winding cobblestone streets, antique lodgings, romantic candlelit cafes and breathtaking views offer a tantalizing glimpse of the riches to be experienced in Italy. Tiny shops sell only the finest locally made crafts, as well as wines, cheese and other culinary delights. Napoleon knew – he stopped in Asolo during his triumphal tour through Europe. Queen Caterina Cornaro established her court at Asolo and her reign attracted the finest musicians, artisans, writers and actors of the day. Thus began the cultural traditions that are associated with Asolo today. It’s all less than three miles from our camp!
Also close to our home base is the ancient walled city of Marostica with its two castles. Marostica is famous for its biannual human chess game, which celebrates events of 1454, when the Lord of Marostica encouraged rivals for the hand of his daughter Lionora to settle the matter with a civilised game of chess instead of the customary duel to the death. In a very sporting gesture, he also proposed marriage with his other daughter as the second prize. For those visiting in September of 2012, the famous chess game is but a few minutes away from us!
Fitting our focus as a cycling-first camp, we stay in Castelcucco, a small, quiet town not known for its nightlife! Daily life centers on the Hotel Monte Grappa, where we stay, and the local gelateria. The town offers great views of the Monte Grappa and Monte Cesen, and easy access to the many restaurants and agriturismi, where we eat delicious dinners 3-4 evenings per week.
Hotel Monte Grappa
Once you’ve stayed, you will be like foreign relatives to owner and chef Luca Bolzon and his family. When you are at the Hotel Monte Grappa, it is like you are with family. The in-house restaurant serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and the attached bar is available for coffee, wine or beer, and of course gelato. The group often gathers in the TV room to watch professional races on TV, though those who prefer can enjoy quiet time with their own TVs in each room, or high-speed Internet access. The hotel also offers a small weight room, on-site laundry, and secured bike parking, where we keep our tools and spares.