Lago di Cadore Dolomite Mountains Italy
Cultural Travel Ideas Italian Alps & Dolomiti Mountains Italy

Wandering with Titian in Pieve di Cadore, Italy

At the end of my big week hiking in the Italian Dolomite Mountains I landed in Pieve di Cadore, a tiny town at the head of the Lago di Cadore in the province of Belluno.

My first priority on arrival in Pieve di Cadore was taking off my hot hiking boots, having a loooong shower, enjoying the crisp clean linen on a soft bed, and eating Italian pizza.

But I did have time to wander around this little gem of an Italian town. Because it’s not just the finishing point of the Alta Via 4 hike!

In medieval times this stronghold was heavily fortified and its magnificent Palazzo della Magnifica Comunita boasts a crenellated tower built in the later half of the 15th century.

Most of all, Pieve di Cadore is famous for being the birthplace of the Italian painter Tiziano Vecellio (Titian), who made an indelible mark on the history of art as the most important member of the 16th-century Venetian School.

He was the son of of the castle superintendent in Pieve di Cadore. Gregorio Vecelli and his family were well established in the area. Although we don’t know exactly when Titian was born (probably around 1488), we know that he lived here until he was sent to Venice at about 10 years old to be apprenticed to a painter.

He maintained a relationship with his hometown despite his immense success in Venice. He had timber business interests here and in 1565 he visited to organise the fresco work in the apse of St Maria Nascente, a 15th century church. He did the preliminary drawings for these frescoes.

Titian's birthplace Pieve di Cadore Italy

His birthplace is now a museum, and has been restored as much as possible to remove various alterations over the centuries. Casa del Tiziano was clearly owned by important people in the context of a small town, with its stone door frames and portals, as well as a heated room with a chimney.

“Pieve” means “Parish church” so unsurprisingly it has a beautiful church. The only surviving structure of the old church is the 16th-century bell tower. However, the present church does have some of the ornaments from the original, including an altarpiece by Titan in which he included the faces of his older brother Francesco and his daughter Lavinia. There is also an altarpiece thought to be painted by Francesco.

This charming town also has some nice hotels and restaurants, as well as beautiful paths setting off into the landscape surrounding the lake, with the stunning Dolomiti as a backdrop.

FYI I stayed at the Hotel Belevedere and it was excellent, super comfortable and the reception staff went out of their way to be helpful (arranging bus tickets) and welcoming.

Just another lovely area of Italy to enjoy!

By Natasha von Geldern

Have you been to Pieve di Cadore?

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  1. Marti Munns

    I appreciate your coverage of Titian. When I was a young child, my grandparents told me that we were descendants of Titian. My grandparents immigrated to the United States from Italy and raised ten children, five girls and five boys. My mother was one of the five girls.They started out in Michigan and ended up in Colorado where my grandfather was a coal miner. I believe the boys also became coal miners, It is my hope to some day visit Titian’s birthplace. I was born and raised in California but I don’t have any idea of when my mother moved to California or when she met my father. People didn’t travel when I was growing up like we do these days and we were not allowed to ask any questions, only speak when spoken to! I am happy to say that those days are no longer in force and my children could ask anything when they were growing up and still can as adults. I just completed my ancestry paperwork and am enjoying tracking down some of my heritage.

    • Lovely to hear from you Marti and how amazing to be descended from Titian! I hope you do get to visit Pieve di Cadore one day and enjoy everything this beautiful region of Italy has to offer! My great grandparents emigrated from Britain to New Zealand and although within a few generations they had lost touch with people in the ‘old country’ (without the means of communication we have nowadays) I still enjoy looking into where they lived and imagining their lives.

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