The feel of this town is unique among mountain towns in Italy - it somehow feels more like a Venetian coastal town. The climate too is mild for a mountain town.
Before getting on with exploring the town you'll need a place to stay...
The Albergo Cappello e Cadore is my tip. This is a three star hotel offering comfortable rooms, a warm friendly welcome and an excellent location. It's nothing expensive nor super special but it is good value and your best hotel bet in Belluno.
Belluno served Venice both as a gateway to trading with northern Europe and as a first line of defense against northern invaders.
Centuries past this was the summer getaway for rich Venetians escaping the heat and humidity of Venice.
Still today many Italians, overwhelmed by the summer heat of Italy's big cities, find welcome relief here.
Palaces and villas abound reflecting the past wealth of Belluno and judging by the shops, cars and people there is still plenty of wealth around today.
A lovely old piazza - filled with character. As you step onto its cobblestones, you're immediately transported to another time. Encircled by elegant, centuries-old buildings with graceful porticoes, the square exudes a sense of history that can be felt in every stone.
Throughout history, Piazza dell'Erbe has been Belluno's marketplace, a place where farmers and artisans would come to sell their produce and crafts. While the market has evolved over the centuries, the tradition of the "mercato" continues, drawing both locals and visitors. Each stall is a mosaic of colors and flavors, offering fresh fruits, vegetables, cheeses, and other local delicacies.
This is also the perfect spot to sample regional treats and catch up on local gossip as the square always buzzes with conversations, laughter, and the melodious sound of the local dialect. People-watch to your heart's content and immerse yourself in the Italian way of life.
Juvarra's 18th century bell tower is a must. Juvarra was a chap who designed a lot of buildings in my old home town of Turin and he is considered one of the greatest Italian architects of the period. The bell tower is attached to the Basilica of San Martino.
As you ascend its narrow stone staircase, you'll be rewarded with breathtaking views of Belluno and the surrounding Dolomite mountains. You'll need to inquire at the church about whether the Bell Tower is open, as it is not always open to the public.
Dedicated to Saint Martin of Tours, the Cathedral Basilica is a splendid example of Italian Romanesque architecture. Its foundations were laid in the 15th century, but the structure as we see it today took centuries to complete. The facade, adorned with intricate details and sculptures, captures the essence of the era's artistic craftsmanship.
Upon entering the cathedral, visitors are welcomed by a serene and spiritually uplifting atmosphere. The interior is a harmonious blend of styles, with influences ranging from Romanesque to Gothic. The nave is a symphony of arches, columns, and colorful frescoes that tell stories of faith and history.
Piazza dei Martiri, the main square, is the heart of Belluno. Here, you'll find the beautiful Cathedral of Saint Martin, a masterpiece of Venetian Gothic architecture. It's a place to soak in the rich history and savor a gelato while watching the world go by.
One of the town's best-kept secrets is the Ponte della Vittoria, a bridge that seems like it's been plucked from a fairy tale. Its intricate ironwork and ornate lampposts give it an almost whimsical appearance. Locals fondly refer to it as the "Enchanted Bridge," and it's a serene place to watch the sunset.
The town is full of life too. Being home to one of Italy's best
universities means that the town has a young vibrant feel and is is full
of good restaurants and lively bars.
Cuisine is a delight, a fusion of the diverse coastal and mountain styles of cooking. They come together in a treat for the taste buds and you'll get some of the best gnocchi on the planet in Belluno.
Polenta, made from cornmeal, is another regional specialty I love, often served with hearty game meats. They love it so much they often eat it for breakfast, slicing it up and serving it with milk and sugar. One of the locals, Carlo, proudly says, "Our cuisine is a reflection of our connection to the land. Each dish tells a story."
neglect to try the wonderful soppressa ( a type of salami) either. I had
better stop now – once I get onto food I end up going on for ever...
Just a short drive from Belluno, the enchanting Lake Misurina is a must-visit. Enshrouded by legend and stunning scenery, a leisurely stroll around the lake is like walking into a fairytale.
The nearby town of Feltre, often referred to as the "Pearl of the Dolomites," boasts a well-preserved medieval center. Explore its charming streets and squares, and you'll find hidden architectural gems.