Museum of Grappa (Bassano, Vicenza, Italy)

One of the most popular Italian digestives is a kind of distilled spirit made of "vinaccia", the leftover including pressed skin, seeds and so on of wine making. It normally comes between 40 to 52 percent alcolhol content. For the reason that it's the by-product of grape wine making, areas of wine productions are natually production area of this kind of spirit, that is, France and Italy. In French it is called "Marc" and in Italian "grappa".

格拉帕是我搬到義大利以後所認識的第一種餐後酒,酒足飯飽之際,來一小杯芬芳濃烈的格拉帕幫助消化,或者,在濃縮咖啡中加入幾滴”校正”一下咖啡的味道,實在是一種享受(義大利人喜歡在咖啡中加入一點兒烈酒,將此種咖啡稱之為「cafe' corretto」,中文直譯為「校正過的咖啡」)。
Grappa is actually the first digestive I got to know after I moved to Italy. People like to have a small glass of straight grappa after dinner for digestion, otherwise adding some grappa in coffee to "correct" the taste is also a great enjoyment. (Italians like to add some liquor in coffee and it is called "cafe' corretto".)

離家不遠有座山麓小城叫做巴薩諾(Bassano del Grappa),我對這地方情有獨鍾,有事沒事常常到這兒散步閒逛。巴薩諾位在格拉帕山山腳(這也就是為什麼名字後面有”del Grappa”),每次想到這個名字,心裡總會有個疑惑:到底是因為這裡是這種酒的來源地,使酒因地得此名,還是因為這片山麓產的格拉帕酒特別好喝,而因此被如此命名呢?我想,這些都不重要,不論如何,巴薩諾目前是威內多地區(Veneto area,以威尼斯為首府)格拉帕酒的中心。
Not far from where I live, there's a smal town named Bassano del Grappa. It's one of my favorite places and we go there quite often. Bassano is situated at the bottom of Grappa mountain (that's why the name comes with "del Grappa"). Every time I think of it, I always wonder if the name of the grappa came from the place or the grappa of this area is so good that the spirit itself made the place famous. Anyway it doesn't matter. No matter what, Bassano is now the center for grappa in the Veneto area.

巴薩諾的重要地標之一,就是由義大利著名建築師帕拉底歐(Palladio)所設計的老橋(Ponte Vecchio),是觀光客來到此城必定參訪的地點。老橋的橋頭有一座全城最著名的小酒吧,不論是觀光客還是當地人,都喜歡到酒吧中啜上一杯好酒、閒談八卦,每次經過該地,總是熱鬧非凡,酒客絡繹不絕。就在酒吧往上坡方向幾步路不遠的地方,有座小而美的博物館,平心等待有心人到此一訪,週遭的靜謐與下頭的酒吧成了強烈的對比。
One of the most important landmark of Bassano is the Ponte Vecchio (the Old Bridge) designed by the famous artichect Andrea Palladio. It is one of the must-see of the place. At one side of the bridge, there's a famous bar which is popular among locals and tourists. It's always full of people every time I pass by. Going upward opposite the bridge, there's a small but beautiful museum. Just a few meters away from the bridge the atmosphere becomes so quiet. Among the quietness the museum sits, awaiting to be discovered.

The foundation of the museum is attributed to the hard efforts of the current owner of the Poli distillery, Jacopo. The story of the grappa and the Poli family can be traced back to more than a hundred years ago, to the end of the 19th century. Jacopo's great grandfater, Giobatta, made his life making and selling straw hats. Distilling spirit was just Giobatta's hobby. When it came to Giovanni, Jacopo's grandfater, the hobby was carried into a business. Giovanni made use of antiquated steam engine and turned it into a grappa distiller. His business mind made him open a distillery and commercialize grappa making, and thus made distilled spirit the family business of the Poli family. Jacopo's father Toni spent much time and efforts study spirit making and hence set up an even more solid foundation for their business. He improved the distiller in 1956 and the very distiller is still in use and actually the main equipment even nowadays. When it comes to Jacopo's hand, his main focus is the promotion of the grappa, hoping to "make people understand and appreciate the efforts and spirits of grappa making, and thus realize the passion concentrated within." With this spirit he tries to exlpore various aspects of spirit making and then found the museum at the end of the 80s to present his studies.

There're two exhibition rooms, a library and a shop in the museum. Each room is dedicated to one single theme, one is "history of distillation" and the other "distillation of grappa". For the rich family history lots of original artefacts are preserved. With in depth explanation visitors are able to have a glimpse of the history, equipment, and methods of spirit making. However, most of the information are in Italian and for those who don't speak the language the only reliable source of information is the brochure, though the information is much simplified. We finished the exhibitions in 30 minutes and into the shop we went. We're there for spirit tasting. All the products are their own production and there're lots of flavors to choose from. The most attractive items for me are the tulip wine glasses and glass holder. However, no matter the grappa or the glasses all come with high price that I just had to leave them where they are and left the museum with a little bit of regret. Off we went, to the bar for the commoners.


Karin said...

These small museums are treasure troves of information. Your comment about the information not being in another language than Italian is something I've experienced in other museums. If the museum isn't very big you often have to try and get by in the local dialect. Luckily I have found that many of these small museums have very friendly guides/gallery assistants who will help explain things for you.

Thelma said...

Since I've been to this museum for several times, I gradually got to discover (as well) how little information is put into English. The company itself is building another museum on the company site where the distillery. I'm looking forward to its opening and hopefully I'll see some new changes there.

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Unknown said...

Hi, my name is Marc, live in NL, I've just "googled" you since I need the information to introduce "Grappa" in my friend's wedding this weekend, and I'll provide a bottle of Grappa with an elegance packing design as one of the lottery prize.
Anyway, thank you for the information , do you still stay in Italy?
Marc Wu

Thelma said...

Hi Marc,

Thanks for your message. I'm glad that the article is useful to someone. Yes I still live in Italy. I'm actually here for ten years for now. Which grappa did you find there? I'm always surprised how little and overpriced these things are outside Italy!