Belluno / Surroundings



Feltre is a city with many faces, some visible, others hidden, some others erased by the march of time, yet in a certain mode indelible.

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As with Verona, its origins appear to lie with the Reti people who inhabited the Central Alps, though with the advent of the Romans its founding was claimed by them. Feltre is associated with a breathtaking natural setting, and lies in the sun-drenched valley of Valbelluna, to the east of the river Piave and at the foothills of the Dolomites and the Vette Feltrine: a magnificent location, also from a military view.

Moreover it is the largest populated area second only to the provincial capital. Following the domination of the Longobards, traces of whom remain in the names of the city's quarters, and the various families (from the Ezzelini to the Scaglieri), from 1404 the city became indissolubly linked to Venice for almost 400 years, demonstrating unshakeable faith and loyalty to the Republic. In 1509 and 1510 the armies of the Holy Roman Emperor Maximillian I ransacked the city in the League of Cambrai's war against Venice and its allies.

Notwithstanding the razing of the city - thus almost completely destroying the medieval face of the city - and the massacre of many of its inhabitants Feltre remained loyal to Venice; in gratitude for this she paid for the city's reconstruction. Thus was born a new Feltre, with elegant palaces, spectacular squares, porticoes and loggia which soon housed a wealthy merchant class. Accompanying this economic prosperity came cultural and artistic riches: the frescoed house-fronts bear witness to Feltre's fame as the 'painted city'.

The main street, Via Mezzaterra, is lined with typical Renaissance houses, with pointed roofs to protect against snow: the magnificent Piazza Maggiore which offers a splendid view of the castle remains, the church of San Rocco and the 16th century fountain of Tullio Lombardo. Via Lorenzo Luzzo, one of the streets leading off the piazza, and named after a celebrated local artist, continues the trial of Renaissance palazzi. The Museo Civico is also to be found here.