Beyond the storied cities of Northern Italy, such as Venice, Florence or Milan, lie intriguing novelettes of Italy’s culture. These hidden gems bring a nuanced feeling of richness and culture that are emblematic of living life as an Italian. Travelers who are fortunate enough to venture into these smaller Northern Italian towns will be pleasantly rewarded with beautiful scenes and activities that enhance Northern Italy’s pastoral pleasures
Belluno is a small town in the Veneto region. It sits near the Eastern Dolomite region that includes part of theSouthern Alps, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In this regionally influential town is a tradition that spans 4 generations. Just a few feet away from Belluno’s center you can witness the way that films have been shown there since World War II at Cinema Italiano. The cinema’s manager, Manuele Sangalli, learned the art of being a projectionist through a tradition passed down from his great-great grandfather. He’ll take you behind the scenesand show you the fascinating process of how giant spools of celluloid film are transformed to make on-screenmovie magic!
A Mountain of Fun
If you’re already in Belluno, why not head 45 minutes north to Cortina for some fun on the slopes? That doesn’t necessarily mean skiing. Cortina d’Ampezzo is one of Italy’s premier ski areas also in the Dolomites (There’s acommon comparison between Colorado’s Aspen). There are numerous shops, restaurants and art galleries where local proprietors will chat about politics and — of course — Italy’s wonderful cuisine. Throughout the year you can attend numerous events including an “Evening Under the Stars” where you can visit the planetarium and enjoy a celestial dinner!
Triumph and Disaster
The Longare flooding disaster marks a moment in Italy’s history when the community’s successes put it at the top of the world in civil engineering. But a freak natural accident changed the town and the surrounding region forever. In the early 60s, Vajont, Italy’s dam, channeled water away from neighboring small towns but it wasn’t large enough to save thousands from a major flood when a mountaintop crumbled into a nearby reservoir. About 2,500 people in Longare lost their lives. 2013 marks the tragedy’s 50th anniversary and Italy’s government is investing more than a million dollars to commemorate the anniversary.
Sip and Skate
In Conegliano, you can lighten the mood a little with a perfect mix of family and fun. This town is known for its prosecco and a castle formerly inhabited by the Bishop of Vittorio Veneto. But during the colder months, Conegliano becomes a winter wonderland. The charming mixture of lighting and scenescapes at one of Conegliano’s public areas gives the effect of being in a mini Christmas festival. In one of the most exciting seasonal transformations in the community, a mini-carnival is accompanied by a family-fun ice skating rink. Anyone daring enough to step onto the ice can rent skates for about $10.
- Colin Campbell
Colin Campbell is a multimedia journalist and a graduate of Columbia University. He currently works as a DC-based correspondent for international networks reporting on US public and foreign policy matters. When he’s away from Washington he loves traveling and learning about different cultures to make the world seem a little smaller.