Located where the Brenta river flows out of the mountains and into the plain, in 1917-1918 Bassano del Grappa was the most active centre of the resistance to the repeated attacks of the Austrian-Hungarian soldiers trying to burst into the Venetian plain and destroy the Italian army.
Situated just north of the famous Palladian wooden bridge, on the eastern river bank, Ca’ Erizzo is an elegant villa built in the 15th century, with later restorations and embellishments.
In 1918, the villa was the seat of Section 1 of the American Red Cross. Among the many voluntary ambulance drivers there was also Ernest Hemingway, whose 1919 story called “The Woppian Way” or “The Passing of Pickles McCarty” (MS 843), was inspired by Ca’ Erizzo and the Arditi, the combat army soldiers who were also staying at the villa.
The building complex, which has been intelligently restored by its owner, Dr. Renato Luca, hosts now the “Museum of Hemingway and of the Great War” and the “Hemingway Collection”, with many rare documents.
The museum occupies five large rooms, which are all on street level. The exhibition area is composed of 58 large panels that contain historical information, pictures and personal accounts. Charged with the evocative power of that tragic war, the museum describes at length its different phases, showing a very unique testimony in Italy of the United States participation in World War 1.
In the entrance hall, the visitor is welcomed by Hemingway’s novels inspired by the Great War: A Farewell to Arms and Across the River and into the Trees. Other interesting records are those about the participation of the American aviators in the conflict. Passing through the other rooms, the visitor is informed about the main phases of the Great War, thanks to unpublished and unequaled documentation.
During the Great War, Ernest Hemingway was quartered as an ambulance driver at Villa Ca’ Erizzo. This is the reason why we decided to dedicate this important historical and cultural place to him.
Over the years, we have patiently collected a significant amount of photographic archival material, and various editions of Hemingway’s publications, both in Italian and other languages.
In addition, we have gathered rare and original magazines that dealt with his life and works.
The museum foundation aims to become a place devoted to study and develop its own unpublished and original material. Our goal is to contribute to the enhancement of the prestigious image Hemingway gave to Italy and Veneto during his frequent stays.
Ernest Hemingway inherited his father’s love for the wild and uncontaminated nature, as well as the passion for all open air activities, especially hunting and fishing.
Over the years he was involved in these two activities in several continents, spending time in North and South America, Africa, Asia and Europe.
The writer came repeatedly and for long periods to Italy, often in Veneto, hosted in Torcello by Baron Raimondo Franchetti, fascinated by the lagoon, where he went hunting several times.
In one of the rooms of the museum, the visitor is welcomed by a full size mannequin of Hemingway, surrounded by an evocative reproduction of a picture taken during one of his last African safaris.
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