Special Place: Bassano del Grappa

February 12, 2020 | 2 Comments

I’m in the process of planning my trip to Europe this year, and it has gotten me thinking: What makes a town or city a special place for me?

My favourite type of towns are the ones with lots of layers of history, a variety of public spaces (squares/piazzas), irregular street patterns and variety in colour and material.

I’m always on the look out for views containing interesting overlapping streets. Having a picturesque setting (mountains. water etc) is a bonus! I also like places that have a complex iconic view (or important building) that I can sketch over and over again.

It’s also nice if the town is not too well known and overrun by tourists.

While my favourite city in Italy is Vicenza (yes Vicenza, not Venice, Florence or Rome), Bassano del Grappa is certainly near the top of my list and it ticks off all the above items.

It has a stunning setting – on the shores of the Brenta river with Mount Grappa behind and it has so many wonderful streets, piazzas and buildings. You can also get some good food and do some fun shopping there as well! It’s the home of grappa (which is a big deal for some people – not me) and Montegrappa fountain pens (ha! that’s of more interest to me – but just for the record I have only looked from the outside at the pen in the Montegrappa store!)

Sadly I don’t have any good photos of the town, so you will have to trust me!

People are also a big part of what makes a place special – the friends live there, the people I’m with at the time or the people I meet there. So of course Bassano Del Grappa is super special because it’s included in the Palladian Odyssey Tour and we have always had a wonderful group of people from around the world. As I look at these sketches, I’m reminded of my special PO Tour friends. (Miss you all!)

Every year I always wish I had more time to explore Bassano del Grappa.

Last year I was pleased to have a few hours there the week before the tour began so I could explore it further. But sadly, as most of my time was spent looking for an alternative location for our workshop, I didn’t have much time to do the sketching I wanted to do. I did however do this one.

We don’t spend a lot of time in Bassano during the PO tours, but I have managed to do these quick sketches as we have walked the streets.

These quick line drawings are very special to me as they capture the essence of the place in a few lines.

As part of the tour, we have a wonderful lunch at a nice restaurant overlooking the town. In looking through my sketchbooks from the last 4 years. I’m shocked to discover that I have never sketched any of my meals.

The only sketch I have done during a meal at this restaurant was this one of the view during our ‘reccy tour’ in 2016.

And just for the record… I’ve been trying to hold back on mentioning Palladio… but I can’t any longer.

Bassano del Grappa is also famous for it’s beautiful timber bridge designed by Palladio!


And as for an iconic view that I can sketch over and over…

It’s the view of the town and bridge from the other side of the river. As part of the tour we have sketched on both sides of the bridge and my demos are normally really quick loose sketches, aimed at simplifying the process for sketching complex scenes.

This is an incomplete sketch which shows my first steps – drawing the major edges and putting down the major shapes. You can see more about that in a separate article here.

And finally here are all my demos in chronological order from the six workshops I have taught at this spot (2017-2019). I love how they are all similar and yet different at the same time.


Ah! it’s great to group all my sketches together from 4 years of visits

I’m really excited that we have scheduled more Palladian Odyssey Veneto Tours again this year (at this stage we are not sure that we will be able to offer them in 2021) and I’m looking forward to returning to Bassano del Grappa. Last minute spots are available – more details here.

This year I’m going to sketch some Bassano food – I’m determined!





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