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The history of grappa is deeply intertwined with the history of Bassano. Some of the most important producers of the precious distillate of marc are based here still today. It is also right here, near Brenta River, that the first family-run grappa company was founded: the Nardini Distillery.
For those who don’t know, grappa is a distillate produced by marc, that are the skins and seeds of grapes, made from grapes produced and vinified exclusively in Italy. How it happened that Bassano has become one of the most famous places for the production of grappa in Italy?
The doctor Michele Savonarola from Padua was the first person to make grappa known in Italy, between the 14th and 15th century. In spite, it was produced and popular even before him, it was with his “De Conficienda Aqua Vitae”, cthat people started talking about distillate in our country. From 1600 onward, grappa became increasingly popular and shops that were selling grappa became so many that distillate producers had to get together in a guild.
In the past, grappa had a stronger taste compared with the grappa we know nowadays. As a matter of fact, during the First World War the Alpini used it to find the courage to face dangers.
Bassano shares its name with the grappa, taken from the mountain that dominates the city and, as the distillate, had a crucial role during the First World War. When you will come and visit Bassano, among classic sorts of grappa you cannot miss the “Tagliatella“, a typical liquor of this area, made of grappa. Furthermore, if you want to live an experience like a real inhabitant of Bassano, you absolutely have to drink an aperitif with the Mezzo-e-Mezzo at the Old Bridge. Are you curious to know what it is? Come here and try it!
If you love grappa, and you want to learn more about the history of this distillate, you cannot leave Bassano without having visited the Poli Grappa Museum, right in front of the Old Bridge. It was inaugurated in 1993, and it includes also the Library. Inside it around 1600 old and modern volumes about the art of distillation are collected, among them we cite the “Liber de arte distillandi” of Hieronymus Brunschwigh, from 1500. We are talking about the first, most precious printed text of the History that deals with distillation. Furthermore, you could also admire alembics and other instruments that are useful to produce grappa. In addition, inside the Museum you will find a collection of Italian grappe mignon, with 1500 different bottles from 350 different distilleries.
The Museum travels down the history of distillation, starting from experiments of Medieval alchemists, passing through Venetian doctors of the 16th century that produced distillates, until nowadays.
In Bassano del Grappa you can also visit the oldest distillery in Italy: the historic Nardini distillery. We are talking about a true institution in Bassano. Nardini distillery, which is located near the bridge, is the oldest distillery in Italy. From its foundation onward, distillation gained such an economic importance that authorities decided to charge taxes on the production of grappa. The domestic, free and farming production actually continued to be made illegally.
What about you? Did you know the history of grappa?