The churches in the Dolomites are authentic art treasures worth preserving, visiting and learning more about. An interesting destination for at lovers of all kinds, the Val di Zoldo is the birthplace of Andrea Brustolon (1662-1732), defined in 1847 by the famous writer Honoré de Balzac as “le Michel-Ange du bois”, “the Michelangelo of wood”, as well as other artists unrivalled in their field, such as Valentino Panciera Besarel (1829-1902) and Angelo Majer (1865-1913), whose works have helped make the churches and the villages in the area home to artistic treasures of inestimable value and enriching the community with priceless pieces the local people are extremely proud of.
The Church di San Floriano – Pieve di Val di Zoldo
The archpriest church of the Val di Zoldo was originally built in the 10th century, but the building you can see today was not consecrated until 1487, the date shown on the lunette on the entrance portal. The bell tower, which today has a height of 49.95 metres, dates back to 1565, but it was partially rebuilt in 1835 by Giovanni Battista Besarel, father of the sculptor Valentino.
In 1584, the main facade of the church was frescoed all over; today we can still see the gigantic figure of San Cristoforo on the left. The exterior of the church was remade using 7000 wood shingles. Since 1912, San Floriano has been one of the monumental buildings of the Province of Belluno.
Among the most valuable works you can see here is the altar of the souls in purgatory, a work sculpted in his youth by Andrea Brustolon (1685) and a magnificent example of memento mori.
Church of the Addolorata – Sommariva
Dating to the 16th century, the Addolorata was the place or worship of the Battuti Confraternity, which probably existed in Zoldo at least as early as 1399, and which took care of the administration of the church. Following the application of the decree by Napoleon in 1806, which suppressed the confraternities, the church was expropriated by the state and turned into a warehouse for a short time. When it became a place of worship once more, it was maintained for decades solely thanks to alms from the faithful. In 1862, following repair work on the building, Valentino Panciera Besarel was engaged to sculpt the high altar (1857) and entrusted with the project for the Neogothic entrance we can still see today.
Church of Santa Caterina – Dont
According to the earliest documentary evidence, the original church dates back to 1539. Of particular importance is the Madonna della Salute, depicted with the Baby Jesus in her arms on the main altar. This gilded wooden work was entrusted in 1836 by the people of Dont to Giovanni Battista Panciera Besarel, father of the better-known Valentino, for the intercession of the Madonna against the devastating cholera epidemic that was raging at the time. It is for this same reason that each year sees the celebration of the Madonna della Salute, to which the people of Dont are very devout.
Church of San Francesco di Assisi - Forno
This delightful little church in the heart of the village of Forno dates back to the 16th. Together with the churches of the Addolorata and Sant’Antonio Abate, it was administered by the Battuti Confraternity, and the congregation gathered here every week for the recital of the litanies and to celebrate masses in honour of the brothers of the Confraternity who had died. Demolished and rebuilt in 1889, it is still possible to admire the sixteenth-century frescoes and part of the side walls.
Church of San Tiziano – Valle di Goima, Chiesa
A document from 1400 mentions the construction ex novo of the church, while in 1695, the Regolieri obtained the stable presence of a priest in Goima, which gradually led to the foundation of the parish of San Tiziano. The spirit of renewal that followed prompted the Comunità delle Regole, the local collective property association, to make a contribution to embellishing the church. The fine works you can admire here include the sixteenth-century Flügelaltar, a treasure that demonstrates the clear influence here of the workers from the Trentino area employed in the local mines at the time; the altar frontals and the oval decorative elements depicting the Mysteries of the Rosary, attributed to Francesco Guardi, and the wooden sculpture of the Madonna del Rosario by Angelo Majer, which the women of the village take out in procession every year on 15 August.
Church of San Rocco – Valle di Goima, Gavaz
The construction of this church was very important to the inhabitants of Goima, who saw it as the fulfilment of a promise made to their forebears who lived through the plague outbreak in the 17th century. The church dates back to the 18th century, and the most important contribution to its construction and furnishing was made by local emigrants living in Venice for work, including the wealthy dyer Valentin de Luis, who donated the major altarpiece and the altarpiece contained in it.
Church of San Nicolò – Fusine
The existence of the building is first mentioned in a document from 1570, and it became a parish church at the request of the regolieri in 1615. Some of the most prestigious works here are the polychrome wooden Crucifix, attributed to the workshop of Andrea Brustolon, in the minor altar dedicated to the Passion of Christ, and the splendid organ, which dates back to the early years of the 19th century: it has no equal anywhere in the world, crafted throughout in fir wood with round-section pipes, and is a masterpiece of craftsmanship by the local organ maker Agostino De Marco Brunet (born in Brusadaz in 1777).
Church of San Valentino martyr – Mareson
The church was built in 1492 on the orders of the regolieri. Especially interesting is the wooden ancon in the apse, crafted by Andrea Brustolon and his workshop in 1731, one of the last works to be designed and partially completed by the sculptor. The altarpiece is attributed to Girolamo Bustaferro from Venice (1732).
Church of San Ermagora and San Fortunato – Colcerver
Built between 1739 and 1741 on the initiative of the Panciera family, this is a small building with simple, sober lines. Both entrances – the main one topped with an oculus, and a secondary entrance on the north-eastern side – have frames sculpted in Castellavazzo stone. Particularly interesting are the three holy water fonts, also sculpted in Castellavazzo stone. Returned to the church in 2017 was a replica of the delicate, sophisticated altarpiece, depicting Mary and the Saints; the original is kept in the Museum of the Diocese in Feltre (Belluno) and dates back to the 1700s.
Church of Sant’Anna – Zoppé di Cadore
Dating to 1530/1540, the church is famous for the important altarpiece you can admire inside. Attributed to Titian and his workshop, the painting of the Madonna and Child on the throne can be dated to between 1530 and 1550. According to the stories traditionally told locally, the altarpiece was saved from the sack of Napoleon’s soldiers by the people of Zoppé, who rolled it up and hid it in a tree trunk. Other works worthy of note are the oil on canvas “Transito di San Giuseppe” (1932) by the painter from the Cadore Masi Simonetti, and the D. Gasparini organ of 1746, the oldest in the Cadore.