From Belluno to Vittorio Veneto through Feltre

Belluno is the meeting point of the two itineraries of the Way of the Popes, one descending from Lorenzago di Cadore and the other from Canale d'Agordo. The city is the birthplace of Pope Gregory XVI, born Bartolomeo Alberto Cappellari, born in the locality of Mussoi on September 18, 1765.

On August 23, 1783 Bartolomeo joined the congregation of the Camaldoli monks, in the monastery of San Michele in Isola, in Murano (province of Venice), with the religious name of Mauro. Member of the Academy of the Catholic Religion, he writes many theological and philosophical essays and in 1805 he became abbot of San Gregorio al Celio in Rome. On March 21, 1825, he became cardinal by Pope Leo XII and on February 2, 1831, after 51 days of conclave and 83 ballots, he was elected pope under the name of Gregory XVI, 254th Bishop of Rome. He died on June 1, 1846 and was buried in St. Peter's Basilica in Rome. This Pope from Belluno was particularly sensitive to cultural themes, such that he opened and valorized many sites of special interest as the Etruscan and Egyptian Museums, the area of Tivoli and the Villa Gregoriana and the Basilica of St. Paul in Rome.

The itinerary starts from the Cathedral (Duomo) in Belluno and passes through Piazza dei Martiri square, once known as the Pope's square in honor of Gregory XVI. The square is overlooked by the nineteenth-century Palazzo Cappellari della Colomba, commissioned by the Pope's family to the architect Giuseppe Segusini. Leaving the old town, continue towards Agordo reaching, after about 2 km, the locality of Mussoi, where in front of the parish church there is the sixteenth-century church of Saints Philip and James, internally frescoed by the artist Nicolò De Stefani from Belluno. Inside this church there is the tomb of the parents of Gregory XVI. In fact, the family lived in the house next to this little church, as remembered by the plaque.

Continuing along the itinerary towards Agordo, you will reach the locality of Mas di Sedico, near the fifteenth-century Certosa di Vedana (charter house) in the municipality of Sospirolo, all territories included in the Dolomiti Bellunesi National Park. You will then descend towards the Piave river, crossing first the Cordevole stream, coming down from Agordo, that flows into the “River sacred to the Nation” in Bribano (municipality of Sedico). Then you will follow a stretch of the foothill road between Sospirolo, San Gregorio nelle Alpi, Santa Giustina and Cesiomaggiore, places of great historical and landscape value, featuring many Venetian villas built here since the sixteenth century and then you will finally reach Feltre.

The City, that still has a beautiful sixteenth-century walled citadel overlooked by the ancient Castle of Alboino, is worth the journey just to admire the Cathedral featuring an interesting archaeological site that has brought to light the Roman remain of the ancient Feltria and three citizen museums: the Civic Museum, the “Carlo Rizzarda” Gallery of Modern Art and the Diocesan Museum of Sacred Art where you can find many works of art from many sacred buildings of the entire territory of Belluno.

Just outside the city, the Sanctuary of the Saints Vittore and Corona is perched on the top of Mount Miesna overlooking the village of Anzù and the surrounding area. The Sanctuary, dedicated to the patron saints of Feltre, was built around the end of the eleventh century and conceived by the imperial vassal Giovanni da Vidor and his son Arpone. Through the centuries this sanctuary became the most important religious and cultural center. Even today you can still climb up the path that runs along the slopes of Mount Miesna, studded with capitals, up to the monumental nineteenth-century staircase leading to the ancient shrine.

Following then the Piave river you will reach Busche (municipality of Cesiomaggiore) where you will cross the river and arrive to Lentiai featuring a magnificent Church dedicated to the Assumption which hosts a wonderful altarpiece and a coffered ceiling with sixteenth-century pantings by Cesare Vecellio, cousin of the famous Titian. You will then reach the town of Mel, an ancient settlement of Paleovenetians and featuring the Zumelle Castle. This fort is situated at the border between the Treviso and the Belluno areas and has always been disputed for its strategic importance. In fact from here you can reach Passo Praderadego mountain pass, straddling the provinces of Belluno and Treviso, and then continue towards Vittorio Veneto with the ancient village of Serravalle and its recent history linked to the Great War.

Here ends the Way of the Popes, an itinerary that leads pilgrims to visit places of ancient history made of people, events, squares, palaces, churches, all immersed in the magnificent scenery of the Dolomites, UNESCO World Heritage Site and of the Dolomiti Bellunesi National Park.

Technical details

The itinerary can be divided into different stages and you can travel it on foot or by bike, or even in a single day by car.

Opening days and accessibility

All year.

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