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Belluno. Sea-deep, mountain-high

creato da Dario Morgante ultima modifica 20/06/2008 15:10

Feel like staying in town this Spring? Then go and visit the Dolomites. No, we're not joking: if you don't believe us take a trip to Belluno. Seeing is believing

Don't blink . . . it's Belluno
Welcome to Belluno, whose very name, from the Celtic "belo dunum" - beautiful sky, seems to describe the breathtaking views of the mountains silhouetted against the horizon. In 1999 Belluno (for those of you who don't know, we're in the Veneto region) was named "Alpine Town of the Year" and since then has enjoyed a notable increase in popularity. Up until then Belluno, much to the chagrin of its eminent citizens, such as writer and journalist Dino Buzzati, had been largely ignored by the rest of Italy. Buzzati, who deeply loved his home town, believed that Belluno's impopularity was unintentional and was due to the town's misfortunate position. Thousands of people pass through Belluno both in winter and in summer but few them take the time to stop off. Indeed they hardly even slow down to take a look out of their car windows in their rush to get to the mountains. The Dolomites and Cortina D'Ampezzo have cast their shadow on the pretty town of Belluno.
(Read La mia Belluno, by Dino Buzzati, published by Comunità Montana Bellunese 1992, Italian only. The Tartar Steppe, by Buzzati is published in English by Penguin

A fusion of mountains and sea
There's more to Belluno than its position at the foot of the mountains. Belluno is an enigmatic solitary town with its  quiet squares, Mediaeval and Renaissance streets and Venetian-style buildings. Especially during the winter months when the streets are covered with snow and the main square, Campedel is starkly silent.
Belluno's charm, in the words of Buzzati, lies in its mixture of two very different worlds: Venice with its unmistakable architecture and the fabled North with its mysterious mountains and long winter nights. In the centre of town you can see buildings "that have made their way up from the coast " while in the outskirts there are country-style houses that "have come down from the mountains" making for an eclectic, fairy-tale like effect. On a clear winter's day this fusion of sea and mountains becomes even more apparent in the crystalline blue of the sky. The same sky that draws tourists from the plain, weekend after weekend.

Walk in the park
Don't go to Belluno without visiting the Parco Naturale delle Dolomiti Bellunesi. In creating the Park the town of Belluno was way ahead of its time in its desire to protect the environmental and cultural heritage of the area. Traditional farming methods are also actively promoted and sponsored. Tourists have been coming to the area since the 18th Century drawn by the spectacular scenery and the variety of rare Alpine plants and flowers. Thanks to the Park the natural beauty of the environment has remained virtually unchanged. The Park covers an area on the south-eastern edge of the Alps and includes some of the steepest and most inaccessible parts of the range.

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