Date: Thursday, the 14th of October 2010
Title: Day trip around the Grappa massif
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“From here none shall pass”
Monte Grappa with its 1,775 meters is the highest peak of the Veneto Pre-Alp region, isolated between the rivers Brenta and Piave. The combat on the Grappa massif is one of the greatest, unsung battles of World War I (WWI). To learn more about this battlefield please visit this link. At the summit the Sacrario militare del monte Grappa is situated. It is one of forty sanctuaries created by fascism along the front of the Great War. Officially opened by Vittorio Emanuele III in 1935 and built, upon the desire of Benito Mussolini, to replace a previous charnel house cut out of the mountain. It holds the remains of 12,615 fallen soldiers.
Before my wife and I went up the stairs we visited the cafetaria (Rifugio Bassano) to eat dolci. Inside, remains that were found on the mountain were on display.
The Sacrario is a modern work of architect G. Greppi and sculptor G. Castiglioni who created the monumental shape by placing the remains of the soldiers in stone columbariums on five ascending steps. The fourth holds the tomb of the Field Marshal of Italy, Gaetano Giardino, and his wife.
The summit is dominated by the sacellum (small shrine) of the Madonnina of Grappa, located on the summit in 1901. She was “wounded” by an enemy hand grenade and then restored in such a way that her scars were visible.
The sacellum leads to the beginning of Via Eroica which leads to the Portal of Rome. The Portal of Rome provides access to the original hypogean cemetery. Multiple WWI field guns are on display on Via Eroica. On the Portal of Rome it says “Monte Grappa tu sei la mia Patria” which means “Monte Grappa you are my Fatherland”. At the back is the Austrian-Hungarian cemetery that holds the remains of 10,295 soldiers, of whom 10,000 unknown.
From the Austrian-Hungarian section an abandoned NATO base can be seen on Monte Palon.
Possagno is the home of the neoclassical sculptor Antonio Canova (Possagno November 1st 1757 – Venice October 13th 1822). On our way back to our residence we drove by the temple of Canova in Possagno. Please visit the official website of Museo Canova to learn more about his work.
For an image of the route please see this link.