Tuesday, 24 February 2015


Porta Imperiale [© P.A.G. 1998]

When drawing up a list towns to visit in Veneto, make sure you put Feltre near the top of the list.  

In the last post I explained that I arrived in Feltre by bicycle, after grabbing hold of the back of a trailer pulled by a passing tractor.  

But this is not considered to be an acceptable way of arriving into Feltre.  

Looking up the Via Mezzaterra [© P.A.G. 1998]

I left my bike Una chained to some railings and instead walked through impressive Porta Imperiale, taking the right turn into the Via Mezzaterra.

Much of the old town dates back to the middle ages.  The Via Mezzaterra is truly ancient.  

Each step I took up the road revealed a new piece of history.

Compare this old print (right) with the photo (below) I took in 1998.

Further up the Via Mezzaterra [© P.A.G. 1998]
Statue of Panfilo Castaldi  [© P.A.G. 1998]

I walked to the top of the Via Mezzaterra to discover the Piazza Maggiore, the most important piazza in Feltre.

The photo to the right is of a statue of  Panfilo Castaldi, a man who was largely responsible for the invention of the printing process using movable type. 

A native of Feltre, his statue stands in the piazza.  He looks down with a very serious expression, possibly designed to convey the fact that he he considers you personally responsible for the theft of his trousers.

Facing Panfilo across the piazza is a statue of Vittorino da Feltre (right click on the page after you've followed the link in order to translate if you don't speak Italian), a scholar and teacher.  

There is a commemorative plaque (below) in Mantua that honours his achievements there and elsewhere.

The photo below gives a partial view of the piazza.  The piazza's other name (many of Italy's roads and squares have been renamed over the years) is the Piazza Vittorio Emanuele.  

Victor Emanuel II was the first king of the newly-united Italy, of which Veneto became part in 1866.  You can take a virtual tour of the piazza here.

Piazza Maggiore [© P.A.G. 1998]

The piazza was a building site that day.  Workmen were coating the stonework with a cleaning compound before covering it in polythene wrap.  They told me it would stay like that for two days before they returned to take off the wrap and hose down the stonework.

Cleaning the balustrades of the piazza  [© P.A.G. 1998]

The road continues past the piazza, changing its name to the Via Lorenzo Luzzo, named after a painter born in Feltre in the fifteenth century.  The road took me past the Biblioteca della Facoltà di lingue e letterature straniere della Libera università di lingue e comunicazione (the Library of the Faculty for the study of foreign languages and literature), where I met some students from the University of Milan.  I always enjoy chatting with students from Italian universities - my own university, Aberdeen, has had many student exchanges over the past years.  

At the end of the Via Lorenzo Luzzo lies the Porta Oria, one of Feltre's oldest gates, which in the past controlled the eastern entrance to the town. Originally it was the entrance that greeted the arrival of the authorities of Venice to Feltre. The structure that we see today has remained largely intact since 1502.  The building to the left of the Porta Oria is the Feltre museum, the Museo Civico.  

The Porta Oria and the Museo Civica (left) [© P.A.G. 1998]

This link shows a view of the Porta Oria from the other side. Unfortunately, my camera had run out of film at this point; also, I needed to free Una from her chains and head for the train station, pronto.

This old picture shows what the Porta Oria looked like around a century ago - much the same, though perhaps in need of a little TLC.

I would have loved to have spent more time in Feltre, but in a few days' time my stay in Italy was due to come to an end.

Feltre railway station on a sunny afternoon [© P.A.G. 1998]
Many tourists arrive by train and enter the old city up the steps of the old passageways, le scalette vecchie, found in the walls of this ancient town.  You can find much information and more photos of Feltre here.  

The railway, which winds up the Piave valley via Perarolo to Calalzo, was built before WW1.  One reason for extending the line so far was to enable the rapid deployment of Italian troops northwards towards the Austrian border.  The last section was completed in 1914, perhaps in anticipation of the coming events. The section of line leading up the Piave valley to Feltre was built much earlier - towards the end of the nineteenth century.

Map of Feltre [Tobacco Carte e Piante Turistiche sheet 23]

If we follow the railway line running south from Belluno (black, lower right corner on the map above), we see that it follows the steep ascent up the Sonna valley to reach Feltre;  then, leaving Feltre it disappears into a tunnel on its way down to Quero, my next destination.

The map below shows where Feltre lies with respect to the towns in the Piave valley.  Feltre is a well-fortified town in a good hillside position.  It is at the confluence of several streams which join to form the Sonna, a major tributary of the Piave.

The Piave valley between Belluno and Feltre.  [Dolomiti Turismo]

The next post charts my attempt to search for the old custom house on the Piave - Castello di Quero.  Venice and the lagoon were beckoning Una and I south, towards the end of our journey...

Note: This blog supports readers of The Door of Perarolo, a historical novel set in Cadore, Italy in the early nineteenth century.  You may examine feedback from readers in the UK here and in the US here.  The Door of Perarolo is a Kindle ebook comprising 140 chapters.  It can be downloaded from Amazon sites worldwide.  The launch post of this blog gives further details.  The second post provides links to maps, etc.  

NEW: I have added two maps to the Kindle version of The Door of Perarolo.  Both are included in the free sample on the Amazon web page.  The first is a map of the Piave valley between Perarolo and the Adriatic.  It is located on the page immediately preceding Chapter 1.  The second is a map of the Piave valley between Perarolo and Longarone.  It is located on the page immediately preceding Chapter 10.

No comments:

Post a Comment