There is, in Veneto, one of the most fascinating and characteristic Italian places, able to combine historical importance and scenic beauty. Yesterday the scene of bloody battles, today a paradise for sport and outdoor life: this is Monte Grappa, in the Venetian Pre-Alps.
Bordered by the valleys of the Brenta and Piave rivers, its initially steep slopes turn into gentle and harmonious slopes rich in woods and pastures. The climate, milder and sweeter than that typical of the plain, has little rain and very little fog. The flora and fauna, then, are extremely varied and offer visitors meetings as pleasant as unexpected.
Composition and territory of Monte Grappa
Monte Grappa is a limestone massif that overlooks the Venetian plain and is surrounded by the valleys of Treviso, Belluno and Vicenza. Initially known as Alpe Madre, it is 1775 meters high and has a very varied shape, with gentle slopes that slope north and steep slopes south.
Monte Grappa originated from a fault that raised the layers of dolomitic limestone, biancone and Scaglia Rossa. Its territory is almost devoid of water, since the karst composition prevents the formation of lakes and rivers; however, cracks and cracks are easily created that allow rainwater to penetrate inside the mountain, flow through the underground streets and then resurface in the valley floor.
Fauna and flora of Monte Grappa
Anyone who decides to go through the paths of Monte Grappa has the opportunity to meet animal species of all kinds, especially at the first light of dawn or at sunset: deer, squirrels, woodpeckers, chamois, deer and small mammals such as weasels, foxes, martens, polecats, dormouses and hares, but also birds of prey such as hawks, hawks, ravens, buzzards, kestrels, owls and owls. In the pools of water, on the other hand, you can see salamanders, toads, red frogs and howls, together with small reptiles such as the snake, the worm, the viper and the snake.
All these animals live immersed in the uncontaminated nature, which hides a real paradise of flowers: there are about 1400 species, all different from each other. Walking on Monte Grappa in spring can, therefore, be the ideal opportunity to admire lily of the valley, daffodils, gentians and crocuses, but also rare flowers such as the primrose, the Euphorbia of Carnia and the Lilium carniolicum.
Also found here and there are interesting Illyrian species, such as the Centaurea rupestris, the Genista sericea, the Seseli gouanii and the Cytisus pseudoprocumbens, while in autumn you can see gentians, colchici and anemones.
What to do on Monte Grappa
As a natural oasis and outdoor gym, Monte Grappa is the ideal place for all those who love paragliding and hang gliding. Not only that, because its rocky cliffs are perfect for climbing, while the steep slopes offer amazing “slopes” for lovers of two wheels. In addition, forests, pastures and mule tracks can be interesting destinations for those who simply want to walk in nature.
Finally, you can reach the top in different ways: on foot, running, by bike or by flight it does not matter, just get to your destination to enjoy a wonderful view of the Venetian Plain. In winter, then, it is even more beautiful because you can ski and hike in the snow, while in summer you can engage in rowing and rafting in the river Brenta.
What to see on Monte Grappa
Throughout history, Monte Grappa has been the scene of numerous battles, fought during the two world wars, as well as during the Cold War. As a result, even today it houses finds dating back to those moments, as well as numerous monuments dedicated to the fallen in battle. Here are the main stages:
The Military Shrine of Monte Grappa
After the defeat of Caporetto, Monte Grappa became the fulcrum of the Italian defense against the Austro-Hungarian army. For this reason, even today the mountain is crossed by trenches, tunnels and fixed artillery posts.
One point in particular immediately catches the attention: it is the Military Shrine, inaugurated on 22 September 1935 in the midst of the Fascist era, which collects the remains of over 12 thousand dead.
The main part of the Shrine consists of five concentric pyramid-shaped circles, while the bases preserve the remains of the soldiers. The summit, however, is connected to the Portal of Rome by the Via Eroica, a majestic avenue with 14 stones on the sides reminiscent of the places where the most bloody battles took place.
On the upper part of the Rome Portal there is the Observatory where, through a special installation, it is possible to have a clearer picture of why Monte Grappa was so important during the war.
The Historical Museum of War
Not far from the Military Shrine is the Historical War Museum, inside the Caserma Milano. It holds and displays documents, photos, weapons and memorabilia dating back to the First World War.
The Galleria Vittorio Emanuele III
Right next to the Caserma Milano is the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele III, a tunnel dug during the war that extends for about 5 kilometers through Monte Grappa. From the central canal branch off the side corridors that, at the time, were used to move men and weapons from one point to the other of the mountain without being discovered by the enemy.
The gallery could accommodate 15,000 soldiers, along with food for two weeks, 72 guns and 70 machine guns; this is enough to understand how much work was needed to build such a work that, to date, can only be visited for about half its length.