Feltre is the perfect place to spend a week and just chill. It sits to the south of the Dolomites in the foothills, has a historic center, museums, and parks. If you get lucky with your accommodation, like we did, you might wind up with a set of glass doors and a balcony aimed right at the seemingly impassible and insurmountable mountains.
I know. I know. You only have two weeks for vacation and if you are going all the way to Italy you just have to see Venice, Rome, the Vatican, Pompeii, and Cinque Terre. Right? Maybe the Amalfi Coast too. The only way to pull that off is to sign up for a tour package where you and thirty of your newest friends get packed into a bus and let out occasionally to be quickly led around one point of interest or another by a flag-on-a-stick wielding guide. You get a few nuggets of knowledge, the all-important selfie, then back on the bus. That’s no vacation. That’s a punch list. I’m worn out just writing about it.
Sounds awful, doesn’t it? Think you’ll just make arrangements yourself, right? Save some money and not be herded like cattle, huh? Good luck. There is a reason why tour companies make the money they do to cram a bunch of sights into a short period of time. It is a lot of work and it takes experience (and volume) to make it all mesh and not cost a fortune.
So, back to where we started. Slow. Down. You are going on vacation, not a country-wide Easter egg hunt to the death. If you have two weeks, pick two places, three tops, to stop and explore, and really soak it in. They can be major cities, or small towns, but give them some time so you can really see the sights and get the pulse. Moving around much more and you will find yourself on the road or in airports, and blasting through sights more than sipping wine, hiking or getting lost in a museum for the better part of a morning. As an added incentive, planning a two or three stop vacation is something you can handle on your own.
Back to Feltre. Feltre is a great example of the sort of destination that makes a really good one week vacation. It has an interesting historic center and some very good museums. It is snuggled up against the Dolomites which offer plenty to explore on foot or by car. Never heard of it? That’s even better for the budget-minded traveler. Accommodations, groceries, and wine are usually less expensive in the not-so-well-known towns. That is the case in Feltre.
We arrived in Feltre after a very pleasant drive, well, it was a nice drive after the octopus attack in Verona that Pat covered in his last post. Along our route, Calceranica al Lago, a small town just above a lake happened to cross our path at lunch time. We found a park along a gently running stream where we took our mid-day nourishment. Cool, clear, trickling water flowed by as we noshed. You know what has been difficult to find in Italy? Public restrooms. After lunch we had to go, but there was no place to go, so we went, and hastened toward Feltre.
Our Feltre Airbnb hosts showed us the apartment. Wow! The view was amazing and the apartment was well outfitted, clean, and very affordable. As soon as our hosts left, we raced each other to the john. Pat cheated. I waited.
The grocery store was right next door. That made hunting and gathering a snap. The very best part though, was the grocery store had Vino Sfuso! That is self-serve wine that you put into your own reusable container for a couple euro per liter. What a wonderful idea!
We spent three days hiking and driving in the Dolomites and three days exploring town and the museums. The Dolomites are spectacular. One day we took a hike to a series of waterfalls and crystal clear, nearly prismatic, pools of water (featured photo). We saw almost no one and sat right beside one of the pools for a few hours of snacking, wining, chatting and photographing. It doesn’t get more peaceful and relaxing than that. I wondered what the Venice-Rome-Vatican-Pompeii-Amalfi-people were doing. We also took a couple of drives through different parts of the Dolomites on two other days. Of course we found appropriate stops for a little VinoLunch.
On the days that we walked around Feltre, we explored the Old Town up on the hill, the park right near our Airbnb and a couple of museums. The Old Town was very quiet and the main piazza was deserted on the weekdays, but on the weekends, people were out and about. There were loads of narrow alleys and streets lined with buildings with frescoes and lace-curtained windows.
The park next to where we were staying attracted kids kicking balls, teenagers doing whatever teenagers do, and adults jogging or walking. We observed it all from our grassy knoll with a glass of wine. Speaking of wine, Feltre is in the Veneto region. We had the same excellent wine we had in Verona; Valpolicella, Soave, Bardolino, etc..
The Carlo Rizzarda museum in the historic center of Feltre was an unexpected pleasure and we had it all to ourselves. Carlo was a gifted artist working with the difficult medium of wrought iron. He was able to create beautiful and delicate works of art in the forms of gates, lamp posts, chandeliers, and even a bird cage with iron, fire, a hammer, and an anvil. His works were interspersed with pieces of art from his personal art collection. Incredible. We spent the entire morning there with not another soul while the Venice-Rome-Vatican-Pompeii-Amalfi-people covered 200km in a bus with one motion sick passenger and a pair of arguing newlyweds.
Included with our admission to the Carlo Rizzarda museum was entry to the Feltre Civic Museo. It was full of mainly 15th and 16th century art and everyday items and some ancient Roman pieces too. A pocket-grandma (my brother’s term for cute, pint-sized grannies) serving as docent kept coming up to us and explaining things in great detail… in Italian. We explained to her in English, French, and Spanish that we did not speak Italian. She smiled then spoke more slowly in Italian and repeated herself until we both nodded as if we understood. Good thing there was an English handout to explain a bit about some of the more important pieces.
So, that is what it is like to slow down, not move too fast, and spend an entire week in one small town. Not one second was boring and at no time were we rushed. We only checked one item off our punch list (the Dolomites) and our selfie-collection is seriously lacking but Feltre was interesting and beautiful. At the end of our week we were rested, relaxed, and ready for our next destination; Turin. In case you are wondering, we made sure we went before we went!
Hike, Drink, Live, Laugh
A few more photos:
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2 thoughts on “Feltre, Italy: Slow Down. You Move Too Fast.”
Love yours & Pat’s writing. Please keep it up. We’re thinking S. Africa or Portugal for our next “vacation”. You are right, we have also learned that slow is much better.
Thanks, guys! Let us know where your next travels take you and post lots of photos.