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Feltre’s Historic Palio Festival

Located between high mountains, within the Vette Feltrine World Heritage Site and perched on a small hill, Feltre has, for centuries, been the hub of important trade routes in the region.

Feltre is an exciting discovery for first time visitors who are often surprised to find a historic city at such a high altitude in the Dolomite mountains. The city is characterized by its ancient walls that surround the city, which climb up through the high peaks of the Dolomites, this gave the city the nickname Borgo Verticale or the “Vertical Village”. Feltre has buildings which date back to many different eras in history and has a varied natural heritage within its territory as well. Some of the city’s beautiful historic buildings include the Alboino Castle, its clock tower as well as the Teatro de la Sena which is housed on the first floor of the Palazzo della Ragione, a sixteenth-century building initially used for meetings of the Maggior Consiglio, and became a public theater in 1684 with the establishment of a Teatro Sociale.

Feltre is famous all over the world for its Palio, which is a historical re-enactment event commemorating the city joining the Republic of Venice in 1404. After a long hiatus, the Palio was resumed starting in 1979 and has since been held every year during the first weekend of August. On this occasion the four districts of the city – Castello, Duomo, Port’Oria and Santo Stefano – challenge each other with various skills tests in order to be declared as the best district of the city for that year. The festivities start on a Friday evening with a massive dinner which takes place through the streets and squares of the city. Then, there is a procession involving people wearing Renaissance-style clothing followed by four challenges: relay, archery, tug of war and an equestrian race. The race is considered the most exciting challenge of the Palio and attracts thousands of spectators every year.