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The Big War

Passion for history...

Peaks and rocks, trenches and ditches, caves to place cannons and machine guns, remains of fortresses: these are the vestiges that still tell the story of the war that was fought here, in the valleys of Astico and Posina and in the plateau of Tonezza and Fiorentini.After the heavy bombing in 1915, in 1916 the Austro-Hungarian Army started the Stafexpedition and this mountain area became the extreme battle field to stop the enemy from invading the Plain near Vicenza. Attacks and counterattacks, refugees, civilian casualties, destroyed villages: these were the consequences of a terrible war that will never be forgotten. After the war, when silence and peace came back to these high pastures and these peaks, memorial stones where placed as memory and warning against the violence of war. The victims of both armies, often unknown, were buried side to side, as we are all brothers in death.In front of the 'Emperor's Fortresses' (Doss del Sommo, Sommo Alto, Cherle, Belvedere, Luserna, Verle, Pizzo di Vezzena) there were the so called 'Sentries of the Reign', the Italian forts of Campomolon, Cornolò, Casa Ratti, Punta Corbin, Campolongo, Verena. The remains of these buildings, which were partially or totally destroyed in the tragic days of Strafexpedition, can still be seen along the hikes that follow the old Italian western front.Fort Cornolò, built between the valleys of Astico and Rio Freddo to protect the town of Arsiero, is now little more than a ruin. . On the contrary, the remains of Fort Campomolon (1853 m), still show its impressive architectural structure, especially with the four armoured domes.Down in the Astico valley (350 m), in the middle of lush wild vegetation, lie the remains of Fort Casa Ratti, that in the past had three revolving domes, three 149G cast iron cannons and five machine guns posts.From Tonezza you can go up to Mount Cimone, a sacred place for war mamories. The woods here scarcely hide the old trenches and the complex net of tunnels. The crater caused by an Austrian mine that exploded on 23rd September 1916 is now overlooked by the spire of the memorial cemetry where war victims will rest forever in peace. Now that the War is just a memory , these mountains, Caviojo, Cima Neutra, majestic Priaforà, watch over the valleys and the villages, as if they wanted to protect them and, at the same time, to keep the memory of the past alive.