The town of Bassano del Grappa and a handful of other municipalities in the province of Vicenza make up the production area of the latest product in Veneto Region to be awarded the P.D.O. designation. The area along the Brenta river offers ideal conditions for asparagus growing, with sandy, light, well-drained and slightly calcareous soil and a particularly mild climate. These soil and climate conditions lend themselves to a product whose sweetish aroma blends with a hint of bitterness, a balance of flavours highly appreciated among consumers.
Local use of asparagus dates back centuries. Legend has it that Saint Anthony of Padua first introduced the vegetable to the region when he visited the area to appease the tyrant Ezzelino da Romano. It is also linked to the Saint with its traditional harvesting season ending on 13 June, the anniversary of his death in Padua in 1231.
Early documents mentioning asparagus crops in the area date back to the Venetian Republic. When in season, the delicacy was a permanent fixture at the lavish banquets held by the nobility, and trade flourished.
Only the local ecotype of asparagus spears, the variety named Comune – or Chiaro – of Bassano, may bear the P.D.O. designation. They are pinkish-white, well-shaped, straight and whole, with firmly closed crowns. They must not be hollow, broken, split or peeling. The fibre content must be low to ensure exquisite tenderness; woody stems are not accepted. Besides its bitter-sweet taste, its palatable texture is the most precious quality of the Bassano asparagus, a characteristic best appreciated when just picked.