Sacrario Militare del Monte Grappa

Top choice in The Veneto

No battle defines Italy’s struggle in the Great War better than the 1917–18 battle of Monte Grappa. Despite being severely weakened after the battles of Caporetto and Isonzo, Italian Alpine brigades mounted a heroic stand atop this barren mountain and finally brought a halt to the Austro-Hungarian advance. The savage conflict claimed the lives of 22,910 troops, who are now entombed in this memorial, which caps the summit and is studded with bronze plaques commemorating the deceased.

The epic ossuary, designed by Giovanni Greppi and Giannino Castiglioni in 1935, mimics the natural slope of the mountain in five concentric stone rings that are positioned on top of one another to form a pyramid, which is capped by a small sanctuary, the Madoninna del Grappa. Both Italian and Austro-Hungarian troops are buried in niches dug into the stone, although the two sides are separated by a longitudinal avenue called the Strada Eroica (Heroic Way).

Look out for the grave bearing the name, Peter Pan, which is often adorned with flowers and toys. Although little is known about this 21-year old Austrian soldier, the poignant connection between him and the ever-youthful fictional character is self-evident: both will remain forever young on Monte Grappa, known locally as Alpe Madre (Mother Alp).

Near the memorial, there is a cave with a sculpture by Augusto Murer called Al Partigiano. It was erected in 1974 in memory of WWII partisans who also sought shelter on Monte Grappa and were burned alive by the retreating Nazis after the Armistice was signed.

The memorial is 32km northeast of Bassano del Grappa. You'll need a car to reach it.

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