Dolomiti in Rosa

DOLOMITES IN PINK. The event we’ve been anticipating since last fall is finally at hand! Four stages of the Giro will criss-cross Belluno province, and the carovan will spend a rest day in the city itself–an unprecedented 5 days in a single province.

“The Giro represents an incredible moment for our tourism sector,” says Renzo Minella, head of Dolomiti Turismo.”Thanks to la corsa rosa, we’ll have attention of the international mass media focused on our province, an incredible promotional opportunity.”

One might be perplexed as to why a province that has not only such a long and legendary association with the Giro, but more significantly, has within its borders 70% of the Dolomites, would need any additional attention or promotion. The answer is astounding. “People think the Dolomites are in the Trentino or in the German-speaking Alto Adige/Süd Tirol (South Tyrol), so that’s where they want to go,” say many in the tourist industry. Or even more incredibly, there are tourists who do stay in Belluno province but think they’re in the Trentino or South Tyrol! Absurd as this may seem, it’s an error frequently made not only by visitors, but by tour operators (including many cycling tours), writers of travel articles, websites, and guidebooks (Lonely Planet, for one), journalists, and the mass media–Italian included. Last fall I found myself sitting on a London airport bus next to a young woman from Florence. She told me that she enjoyed skiing in the Trentino, and when I asked where, replied, “Monte Civetta.”

“Signorina,” I said, “the Civetta is not in the Trentino, it’s in the Veneto region, in Belluno province.” She sat there looking straight ahead, an expression of stunned confusion on her face. I could see the wheels turning in her head.

“And Cortina?,” she finally inquired (which in her goofy Florentine accent came out as Hortina).

“Veneto,” I replied. “As is the Agordino, Arabba, Passo Falzarego, Passo Giau, the Tre Cime, the Zoldo Valley…”

“Ah, that’s where we stay,” she interjected, “in Selva di Cadore.” (which is not even in the Val di Zoldo, but in the Val Fiorentina).

I wonder how a person can go back to a place for years yet not know where she was. Did she not notice any signs announcing “Welcome to the Province of Belluno”? Or do people think that Belluno is in the Trentino? It would be like going to see the Liberty Bell and thinking you’re in New York.

It seems the province of Belluno is…well, invisible…off the radar. Let’s hope that this year’s Giro will help remedy that sad situation.

Here’s a cute video promoting some of the Giro-related festivities in the city of Belluno. It will take you on a virtual tour of this lovely old city.

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