The settlement of Feltre arose to the west of the Piave River in the Belluna Valley. It has been inhabited since ancient times and possibly has Etruscan origins, but according to the the Roman Pliny the Elder (23 - 79 AD) it was always a fortified city - an Oppidum founded by the Rhetic people that subsequently became a Roman Municipium.

It was of great importance for communications, because it was in contact, through the Via Claudia Augusta, with the Brenner region. There are few routes that cross the mountains here and those that do often gained strategic importance.

Medieval Feltre

In the medieval period Feltre suffered invasions and various defeats, including by the Goths and the Longobardsn then later, between the 13th and 14th centuries, it was occupied by various and powerful Italian seignoiries (ruling families) such as the Da Camino, Da Romano, Carraresi, and Visconti.

In 1404 Feltre fell under the control of Venice. Under the Venetians, its defensive structures were substantially strengthened, but still it was almost razed to the ground by the Imperial troops of Maximilian I of Austria in 1509, during the period of the Wars of the League of Cambrai (1509-1516), so much so that the Venetian Superintendents spoke of Feltre as a city which was burnt to a cinder.

However, Feltre recovered very well from this disaster and through the remainder of the 16th century it had an exceptional economic development, with the presence of a great many manufacturing industries (spinning-mills, textures, sawmills, shoe factories).

In the 1600s, however, the city had a new period of decline - many city based manufacturers vanished following the trend of both everyday people and the ruling class to reside mainly in rural areas, which were considered safer in a century full of wars and famines.

At the end of the 1700s, in the Napoleonic age, the city was a member of the Italic Kingdom, then subsequenty was dominated by the Austrians and, after the Risorgimento, it became part of the Kingdom of Italy in 1866.

Also see the travel guide for Feltre.