Monte Grappa, silence and memory after the fury of arms
Italians and foreigners, over 22,000 men rest on Monte Grappa at 1700 meters above sea level in the quiet of the mountain horizon. Visiting this Monumental Area is an unforgettable experience, which helps to understand the history and value of peace.
They are, in all, 22,694. Italians and foreigners, it makes no difference. Just as the color of a uniform does not do it in the face of the absurdity of war. They rest between the silence of 1,775 meters above sea level and the peace of the mountain horizons.
Unmistakable, even only from the description, the Monumental Area of Cima Grappa. And visiting it is certainly an unforgettable experience.
Already the views that can be glimpsed from the hairpin bends to go along the former military road to gain the summit, make you enter a rugged and surprising mountain, almost inaccessible until November 1917, when it became the barrier line that represented the last defensive bulwark. before the Venetian plain, then one of the main theaters of war until the end of the conflict. In a few months the area changed its face forever: it was affected by dozens of construction sites for the construction of roads, trenches, military posts and the area on the slopes was completely transformed, to become a logistics base serving the high-altitude front. It was a year during which thousands of soldiers and civilians died, and the peaks of the Grappa welcomed thousands of deaths in many small military cemeteries scattered in the places of the most bitter fighting and already in 1922 the area over 1700 meters was declared a Monumental Zone which , in addition to the Memorial (inaugurated on 22 September 1935), it includes the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele III, the Milan Barracks and the “Armata del Grappa” house built in that terrible year.
The architecture chosen for the Memorial in 1935 (signed by Giovanni Greppi and the sculptor Giannino Castiglioni) enhances the mysticism of the place according to the ideology of the time and harmonizes the rugged natural profile of the summit with its bulk. To understand its meaning, it is perhaps advisable to start from the photos and relics of the Historical Museum set up in the Milan Barracks and from the narrow spaces of the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele III, which in just 10 months was built below the Cima Grappa, armed and equipped with technical systems and logistical such as to allow the approximately 15,000 men (with 72 cannons and 70 machine guns) to live and fight for a long time: a grandiose strategic work, which today can be visited safely only in the first section.
Visiting these two places of memory first, the significance of the five circles of the monumental spiral that preserves the remains of 12,615 fallen Italians will be even clearer, among which only just over two thousand have a name. Groups connected by a large central flight of steps with five flights that from the base of the monument leads to the top where the Sacello, Sanctuary of the Madonnina del Grappa, stands. From the square of the temple winds, like a stone carpet, the Via Eroica, which runs for about 250 meters between two rows of stone stones in which the names of the places linked to the most famous battles of Grappa are carved, and arrives at the Portal Rome, a massive stone building that reproduces the shape of a colossal sarcophagus.
From the vast shelf behind it, internal stairs lead to the Observatory which allows you to observe the wide surrounding panorama.
Furthermore, next to the Rome Portal, the remains of 10,295 Austro-Hungarian fallen found in the surrounding areas have been gathered, of which only 295 are known: the building is similar to that built for the Italian fallen, with the alternation of nominal and of larger common urns. In peace they found equality.
The views and the most beaten paths
that bind the places of devotion
Cima Grappa began to reveal its attractions on the hiking front already at the end of the nineteenth century, although only the construction of military roads at the end of the Great War made many routes accessible. In recent decades, the entire area has seen a significant increase in tourist flows, also thanks to the development of trails for hikers and cyclists, which reveal seductive and little-known views. Among these, the one that connects two places of devotion is very popular: the Sanctuary of the Madonna del Covolo in Crespano del Grappa (in the photo) with Cima Grappa. (viveilgrappa.it).
Our Lady and thousands of pilgrims
In 1899 Cardinal Sarto, Patriarch of Venice and future Pius X, proposed to raise a chapel surmounted by a statue of the Virgin at Cima Grappa. The statue could not be built on site due to the absence of the raw material and the transport of a large artifact was in fact impossible due to the absence of a road to reach the summit. Thus a bronze statue in three parts was created in Lyon, to be transported on the back of a mule. On August 4, 1901, the Sacellum was consecrated and the image of
the Madonna, which every year calls thousands of pilgrims to Cima Grappa on the same date.
The “dei poàreti” cheese was brought by the Morlacchi
Today it is a rediscovery
The Morlacchi arrived on the Grappa Massif from Dalmatia at the time of the Republic of Venice. They were a people of shepherds and woodcutters, and made with the milk left over from the production of butter, which they marketed, a cheese with only salt added. Considered for this reason a by-product of butter, Morlacco, a cheese that took its name from that people, is mentioned in documents of the nineteenth century as “dei poàreti” cheese, which with its slender structure – due precisely to its birth as ” by-product ”- and its particularly savory flavor, was the frequent accompaniment of polenta. And therefore it was consumed by those who had fewer possibilities.At present, after its rediscovery, production no longer takes place exclusively in the malghe as in the past, but adequate and calibrated production techniques ensure Morlacco made in modern dairy plants a strong savory and persistent taste. and also the intense aromas that characterize that of the seasonal production of the herdsmen, always rather contained. –
“Bastardo” is also a highly sought-after cheese from the Grappa huts, which owes its name to the mixture of milk from different animal origins (sheep, goat, cow) with which it was once produced. Today it is made only with cow’s milk and has a sweet, herbaceous taste, which becomes savory and slightly spicy with aging.
The Grappa area is an ideal area for beekeeping and therefore for the production of honey, also because there is the possibility of moving the hives from 200 meters above sea level up to 1780 m. of Monte Grappa, thus favoring greater strength and
development of bee colonies and an undisputed quality and quantity of production.
Article by Marina Grasso taken from www.tribunatreviso.it of 31 10 2019