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Belluno, the shining city! This is how the Celts called it: about an hour from Venice, perched on a promontory and lapped by the Piave River and the Ardo creek, Belluno is the capital city of a natural heritage that has no equal in the world, the UNESCO Dolomites. Steeped in history and naturally devoted to nature, our territory can give unique experiences and emotions.
In Belluno nature meets the city: on the one side the Pre-Alps with their gentle slopes and their bright green, on the other the UNESCO Dolomites, a unique scenery made of majestic rocky walls and monumental peaks stretched towards the sky. Through the valley flows the river Piave, iconic World War I battlefield. A historical city center skimmed by waters and crowned by mountains.
An open-air gym: this is what the Belluno area turns into during summer. Trails through the mountains surrounding the city, some of the most challenging vie ferrate and the iconic Alta Via delle Dolomiti n.1, and plenty of cycling routes for the two wheels enthusiasts, and also downhill slopes in Nevegal hill, which in winter turns perfect for winter sports enthusiasts.
The traditional cuisine is very tasty: the pastin, for example, is the king of our barbecue and it is made of spicy beef and pork minced meat. From the rich dairy tradition comes schiz, a first salt cheese best baked in the oven. Dessert addicted need to try giuseppine during Carnival or the spicy Pan de Belun, but if you prefer a healthy but tasty snack kodinžon, a dried apple stick, is the one for you. Obviously, all soaked by a classic ombra of wine or a handcrafted local beer.
VAL DI ZOLDO
Val di Zoldo is an unspoiled valley located in the heart of the Dolomiti Bellunesi. Guarded by the two iconic summits of Monte Pelmo and Monte Civetta, its authentic nature makes it a well appreciated tourist destination among Italian and foreigner travellers.
Val di Zoldo extends at the Northern gate of the National Park of Dolomiti Bellunesi, a unique place, rich in extraordinarily important values in terms of scenery and natural habitat. On the other side, the valley is delimited by the Ski Civetta ski resort, which offers no less than 72 km of skiing slopes, part of the bigger carousel of Dolomiti Superski.
Since time immemorial, the entire territory of Val di Zoldo has always been coupled by the iron and steel extraction as well as the mining activity. However, the part of history thanks to which Val di Zoldo is renowned as the “Land of ice cream makers” started in the end of the 19th century. By that period, people from Zoldo had already reached several corners of the world, disseminating the passion and the art of artisanal ice cream throughout the whole European continent and even overseas.
Nowadays, Val di Zoldo is the ultimate destination for mountain and outdoor adventure enthusiasts. From winter sports, such as downhill skiing (also at night-time), ski mountaineering, biathlon and nordic skiing or the less demanding snowshoe walks, to summer activities, simple walks and trekkings, via ferratas, climbing on the dolomitic rocky walls and finally the grand tours of the Dolomites.
No lack of ancient traditions, culture and of a profound past, which history can be deeply breathed among the alleys of the many hamlets dotted by the typical “tabià” (wooden barns).
Val di Zoldo is dotted with restaurants, the traditional “malghe” or “rifugi”, where you can taste the typical dishes and cuisine of the Dolomites, or the ice cream and pastry shops where you can eat artisanal ice cream and delicacies.
The casonziei, or casunziei in some local dialects, are typical staffed dumplings, very common in many cuisines of the Dolomiti Bellunesi. A soft dough, carefully handmade filled with vegetables or other ingredients, such as ricotta and spinach, beet, or with pumpkin and cinnamon and served with beurre fondu, as in the original recipe of Val di Zoldo.
A break in a typical cottage, the so called “malga”, a moment of relaxation and a mixed cheese platter. A simple circumstance can turn into a real surprise, revealing the scents and tastes of the authentic mountain, still loyal to its nature. Every sample reminds of flowery meadows, where the cows and goats enjoy the grazing.
When being in Val di Zoldo as visitors, this is a must!
DOLOMITI BELLUNESI HONEY PDO AND SAFFRON
In Val di Zoldo, there are many farms dedicated to the cultivation of Earth products: 0 km beans and potatoes, but also saffron, the so called “red gold”.
Some take advantage of the rich biodiversity and of the peculiar flora of the Dolomiti Bellunesi to produce the Dolomiti Bellunesi Honey, recognised with the PDO label. Besides being a genuine and completely natural products it has also special therapeutical properties.
THE ARTISANAL ICE CREAM OF VAL DI ZOLDO
The protagonist of the gastronomic tradition of Val di Zoldo is unquestionably the artisanal ice cream.
Still nowadays, the real origins of ice cream and the reason why it influenced the history of many dolomitic valleys are a mystery.
What’s sure is the fact that Zoldo’s ice cream makers, worldwide known, spread the art of ice cream all over Europe and South America with an innate passion.
This is a long story of success, built from one generation to the other since the end of the 19th century, when the great emigration from Italy to the northern Europe took place.
There is nothing as natural and healthy as the artisan variety, made with carefully selected, fresh, genuine ingredients such as cocoa, vanilla pods, milk, eggs, sugar and fresh fruit. Close attention to the quality of the raw materials, teamed with an ability to dose the ingredients carefully and to stick to traditional ice cream making times and methods is able to turn a simple food into a delight for the palate.
If you are in Val di Zoldo do not forget to stop by an ice cream shop for a delicious break. Plus, if you’re lucky arriving in the right moment, you may have the chance to attend a demonstration by Zoldo’s ice cream makers, showing how ice cream was produced more than a century ago, using original tools and machineries.