If you are bike touring in the Veneto and find yourself in Asolo, there are great routes north of the city in the Colli Asolani, one of the places to make a stop is Possagno. Located at the foot of Monte Grappa, Possagno is the birthplace of Antonio Canova, the Neoclassical sculptor who became famous throughout Europe.
Antoniio Canova (1757-1822) was a leading exponent of the graceful neoclassical style. He was inspired by the purity of Greek and Roman art, which he studied in Pompeii and Rome. He was already acclaimed as a young artist, and was sought after by popes and royalty. His renowned portrait of Napoleon’s sister, Paolina can be seen in the Borghese gallery in Rome where it has a room all to itself.
His statue of George Washington, “modestly” dressed as a Roman emperor and commissioned for the statehouse in Raleigh, N.C., was destroyed, but the plaster cast can be found in the museum.
An incredibly prolific artist all his life, in his last years he designed a temple for Possagno, meant to be the parish church. It stands today as a neoclassical monument to this remarkable artist.
You immediately notice the enormous mass of the Canova's Temple, a massive Neoclassical construction from 1830 that Canova designed based on inspiration from the Parthenon in Athens and Pantheon in Rome. If the exterior is striking due to its grandeur, the interior is even more beautiful: Canova's tomb and numerous works of art are housed here. It is also possible to visit the Canova Museum in Possagno, which includes the artist's home and the famous Gipsoteca, where all of the plaster models, unsold marble, paintings and work are kept, which after the artist's death were transferred from Rome to Possagno.