The Celts called it "belo-dunum", the splendid city. Belluno is the gate into the magical world of the Dolomites, the mountains that have bewitched and inspired many artists including the great writer, Dino Buzzati
The beautiful town is situated on a rocky terrace in the centre of the vast basin of the river Piave, contained in the north by the Dolomites and the Bellunesi Pre-Alps to the south.
Belluno is a slow-paced town, one to walk around to discover the refined, picturesque squares in Venetian style made to measure by man.
Its urban centre displays the classical architecture of a lakeside town. Here, however, there are no lanes or small squares, but buildings of a lighter nature that have given Belluno the name of the "small Venice of the Mountain".
From 1404, the year in which it was entrusted to the Serenissima Republic, to 1797 the town experience a period of great artistic and economic splendour.
This is recorded in the beautiful palaces found in Piazza del Duomo, now the cultural and political heart of Belluno: the Judicial Palace, the Vescovado vecchio (Old Bishop's palace), the Palazzo dei Rettori (Chancellor's Palace) and the Palazzo Rosso (Red Palace), now the Town Hall.
Next to these palaces, one can admite the Basilica dedicated to Santa Maria Assunta and San Martino Vescovo, designed by Tullio Lombardo. Inside there are paintings by Cesare Vecellio, Palma il Giovane, Jacopo Bassano, and Gaspare Diziani. Outside there stands the bell tower, completed by the design of Filippo Juvarra, from the characteristic "onion-shaped" dome. A short distance away, there is Piazza delle Erbe (Place of the Herbs), the old marketplace surrounded by beautiful privately owned palaces in the Gothic-Renaissance style.
Belluno is also famous as the birthplace of Dino Buzzati, the great writer and journalist, who praised his hometown and the Dolomites in many of his works.