Our first full day in Venice was centered around a day-long excursion through the Venetian Hills. Tragically, the weather was not offering its best, but we took a water taxi through the canals to our meeting spot on the outskirts of the city. Happily, this tour would not involve panting up hills on bikes. Instead, we were graciously heralded around in a nice, well-equipped SUV. Our fellow tour participants were an older couple and one older women, all of whom were very interested in the daily lives of two hot blonde cousins... Not that they ever used the word hot in any way, thank goodness.
Though this tour was not as ridiculous or youthful as some of our others have been in fast, it gave us a real opportunity to see the villages and countryside beyond Venice. It provided a stark contrast to the labyrinth of streets and canals traversing the main city and was breathtaking to boot. Our first stop was Marostica, where we were able to wander the town for 30 minutes or so, and saw the location of a live-action Chess match that takes place there every year as well as its beautiful mountain fortification in the distance. After that, Bassano del Grappa, a stunning village with a beautiful bridge and many shops to peruse. This is where we were given the option of a grappa tasting, included in the tour, but for some reason only us lushy young'uns had any interest in partaking. I myself left the grappa shop with a small sampler of honey, blueberry, and a local tasting grappa to take home. From there, we proceeded to the small town of Asolo, where we had lunch at a restaurant called Al Bacaro. All the ingredients are produced locally and created on the premises. One of their specialties is roast pork with a side of polenta; extremely filling and extraordinarily delicious. During the afternoon, we visited the paladian Villa Barbaro, the first historic sight I have ever been given slippers to wear upon entering, so as not to leave marks on the floor. I definitely spent a few moments actively gliding over the surfaces, probably to the distinct chagrin of security staff. Finally, a stop at a Veneto Vineyard, where we sat in a small hall at group tables, were told about several local wines, and given very hefty servings to taste. En route home, cousin and I were quite content with our afternoon of landscape and libations.
In fact, we were so exhausted by the time we reached our hotel, that we couldn't help but collapse for a nap, and barely pulled ourselves from our cozy chamber to face the rain-soaked streets outside. We agreed we both needed sustenance before we were allowed to fall asleep completely, so we wandered only a short distance away and indulged in some Italian pizza. Of course, exhausted and not at all at our best was when the servers seemed to take notice of our American charms and flirtation commenced. Even so, we were in bed quite early, ready to wake up refreshed and raring to go around Venice proper the following day.