Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Feltre, a gem of Venetian / Italian Architecture

Feltre (Venetian: Fèltre) is a quiet town in the province of Belluno in Veneto, in northern Italy. The Dolomites loom to the north.  Feltre is the southern end of the Alta Via 2 hiking trail, which snakes through the Dolomites starting in Brixen, and a few nights here are a grand way to end an exhausting trek, sleep in, eat, and let your blisters drain.
Within the Dolomites, much of the architecture and tradition is Tyrolean because the mountains were part of the Hapsburg Empire until the end of the first World War, after which they were ceded to Italy. Feltre was largely destroyed in 1509 and rebuilt in classical Renaissance style, so it is decidedly Italian rather than Austrian. Your view from the hotel window tells the story: clay tile roofs, narrow lanes, and the Dolomites just to the north.
Feltre draws you in many ways.  First, it is a city of narrow stone-paved roads.
The town is full of shaded walking lanes.  Just walk randomly and something nice will be just around a corner.
Then there are the arches.  Ancient Italian towns are full of arches.
Then the plazas with neat architectural features and art.
Maybe best of all, like most Italian cities, Feltre is a food town.  These people have used fresh local ingredients for centuries, long before trendy American urbanites "discovered" the local food movement.
Want a light snack?  How about a sandwich in crusty bread and a glass (or two or three) of local wine?  It doesn't get much better than this. I found prices to be really reasonable and people incredibly hospitable.

An editorial note:  Small towns in Italy, Austria, Germany, France and Spain are clean, neat, and, for the most part, architecturally preserved  Their residents live harmoniously with their past and recycle their buildings.  Why do so many small U.S. towns look shabby, have dirty, pot-holed streets, have ghastly strips consisting of vile, fast-food restaurants and quickly-built steel commercial buildings, and why have they let their architectural heritage decay?  It baffles me.

Photographs taken with a Nexus 4 phone, reprocessed with ACDSee Pro software.  The automatic white balance of the Nexus is often off and needs manual correction.  Also, a fundamental flaw: it does not save a RAW file.

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