The seventeenth stage of the Giro d'Italia 2023, Wednesday, May 24, starts from Pergine Valsugana, a few kilometers from Trento, a town dominated by the historic and powerful Castel Pergine, an ancient pre-Roman fortress, in Gothic style, which served as a gateway to Valsugana, in a strategic position between Trentino and Veneto.
The fortress was enlarged, in the thirteenth century AD, and became, in the late Middle Ages, the property of the Countess of Tyrol Margarete Maultash (Margherita called Boccagrande) and, later, of the Emperor Maximilian I of Habsburg.
Among the hypotheses of origin of the name, the most accredited is from the Latin pergus, resting place on a hill.
The center is populated by noble palaces, military buildings, monuments and churches, and many fountains, including the salient fountain, known for its seahorses. The most visited streets are: the Via Maier, with its characteristic arcades and Renaissance style, the historic Via Pennell and the Piazza del Municipio, with the elegant town hall of the late sixteenthcentury.
The town is reflected to the south in the transparent waters of Lake Caldonazzo and is surrounded by mountains, in a spectacular landscape, for those lucky enough to admire it. On the lake you can practice many sports activities, such as swimming, sailing, windsurfing, water skiing, canoeing and rowing; while on the heights of Valsugana you can experience a myriad of suggestive hiking trails with various levels of difficulty, as well as trekking, climbing and cycling, thanks to the Brenta-Valsugana cycle path, which runs a scenic stretch of 80 kilometers that goes from Lake Caldonazzo to Bassano del Grappa. In winter, however, it is possible to practice all kinds of sports on snow and ice, such as skiing, ski mountaineering, snowboarding, tobogganing, snowshoeing, ice climbing and skating, in a territory with a thousand resources, with many small lakes in the vicinity.
The uncontaminated nature of a green grassland and wooded mountains guarantees the local cuisine an unmistakable and extraordinary authenticity, which is recognized, for example, in the traditional polenta of Valsugana, produced with a variety of maize grown in this area since the 1800s, to be tasted together with meat stews, exquisite malga cheeses, or mushrooms that are collected in the woods in summer and autumn.
From Pergine Valsugana, the race follows the path of the ancient Via Romeo Germanica and, descending along the course of the Brenta river, passes through Borgo Valsugana until reaching Bassano del Grappa, in the province of Vicenza, Castelfranco Veneto, in the province of Treviso, until stopping at Caorle, in the province of Venice.
In Bassano del Grappa, a visit to the monumental Ponte degli Alpini, also called Ponte Vecchio sul Brenta, designed by the architect Andrea Palladio (16th century AD), one of the most characteristic of Italy, leads us to discover, in the ancient village, the Grappa Museum, which houses a showroom where you can taste and buy the precious distillate, perhaps to be sipped at the end of the meal, after having tasted the typical dishes based on white asparagus of Bassano PDO and pink onion of Bassano, Slow Food garrison.
The route reaches the sea in Jesolo and, going up the coast, reaches the end of this stage in Veneto. We are welcomed by Caorle, a small and charming town among the historic seaside villages of Italy, awarded the Blue Flag and the Green Spiga, which, with its long coastline of golden sand, for almost 20 km, is among the most popular tourist destinations on the Peninsula.
The topomastica traces back to the Latin caprula (wild goat). Archaeological excavations date the first settlements in the territory even in the Bronze Age (before the twelfth century BC), but the first historical sources date back to the third century BC, in Roman times.
The ancient village seems projected on the Adriatic Sea and is dominated by the ancient cylindrical bell tower of the Cathedral of Caorle, outside in austere Romanesque style, with Byzantine elements, dating back to 1038, consecrated to Santo Stefano Protomartire (of which it preserves the skull), built on the ruins of an early Christian basilica (6th century AD). Inside it houses precious works of art, a real treasure chest, among frescoes, paintings, and the golden altarpiece.
The narrow streets and the colorful houses, between streets, fields and small camps, go up to the promontory where the Sanctuary of the Madonna dell'Angelo stands, rebuilt in the eighteenth century AD on a basilica of the tenth century AD approximately, with its bell tower of the thirteenth century AD, today equipped with three bronze bells, which in the past was used as a lighthouse.
Caorle is a place of strong impact, with a lot of history behind it and deep roots, whose traces are still scattered throughout the territory, as in the lagoon, divided into six valleys, where it is possible to visit the ancient "casoni", the typical wooden houses covered with straw and marsh reeds, where fishermen families once lived, since the fifteenth century AD, and which seem to belong to the scenography of a film.
The ancient fishing tradition has been able to meet, here, modern innovation, in a sustainable Pescaturismo project, which includes recreational activities on board professional fishing boats.
The gastronomy of these lands tells us about the sea and sailors well anchored to their land: the typical cuisine combines, in fact, the products of fishing with inland vegetables and the fine Piave DOC wines. You should definitely try the cuttlefish pasta, the cooked muscardini and the tasty sardines in saor, to be enjoyed as an aperitif: fried sardines and marinated with a seasoning of cooked onions with vinegar, pine nuts and raisins, which was used for the conservation of fish to fishermen during the long stretches at sea.