Flying in Bassano
Bassano is a wonderful site. A 15km ridge with relatively straight forward transitions to other long ridges makes the XC potential fantastic. Also as it is in the Italian Dolomites spring tends to arrive sooner than in the Alps making it flyable earlier in the year.
I headed to Bassano in March with Xander, this was my first season flying in the mountains in the spring. I knew it would be strong but didn't expect to feel the fear in the way in which I did. Over the 5 days in Bassano we flew every day, I found it to be quite bumpy at times, so over the days experimented with taking off earlier/later in the day. I was relieved when over the course of the week the fear began to calm down as I got to know the site. I managed a couple of small XCs and found that hitching back when landing out was pretty easy.
Getting to take off was straight forward as the road although windy is very well maintained. We either drove up in the hire car, hitch hiked up, took the shuttle bus or hiked (1.5 hours). The best hitch hiking spot was next to the church at the start of the road up the hill. The shuttle bus would go from Garden Relais Hotel, it seemed to go at random times of the day, as and when they had enough pilots.
There are around 7 take offs in the area. We only used 2 of them as they were easily accessible and the most popular. The first was my favourite. A large grassy area with plenty of space to set up and launch. The second take off was quite steep and has been astro-turfed. I found that there wasn’t much space to set up and that the astro-turf was quite slippery. As there are quite a few take offs it is possible to fly in a large wind window - NE to NW. The take offs range between 800m to 1500m in height.
As for accommodation, there is loads within a 30 minute drive of Semonzo, which is the most convenient village to stay in as it is where both landings are. As it is small it is best to book early. We opted for an airbnb a 20 minute drive away as we booked very last minute. There wasn't an obvious pilot hangout, we went to Tilly's and didn't get a buzzing pilot vibe. At Hotel Relais on the landing field in the evenings it was a little livelier.
I'd definitely love to go back to Bassano, I feel that we only touched the tip of what is possible there. The first few days were spent getting to know the site. Doing the transitions was great fun and doing little XCs was so satisfying. Check out some photos below.