Monday, March 7, 2011

War Comes to the Dolomites?

In 2000, after enjoying lunch in the sun at the Sella Ronda resort of Arabba, I wandered into a nearby mountain top building marked as a war museum. Though the captions were in Italian I deduced that the area had been the scene of heavy fighting during World War I, nearly 100 years ago.

Curiosity led me to read more about the area when I returned home.

The Dolomites, on the border with Austria, have been fought over for centuries. During World War I, when Italy and Austria were adversaries, the border moved several times. The small Arabba museum told some of that story. Soldiers spent summer and winter months perched in caves and bunkers on the hillsides, defending the few passes through the mountains. It was not a great place to be.

Other evidence of war can be found at the top of the nearby Passo Di Falzarego (which is also a wonderful place to ski). A number of mountainside caves and bunkers have been restored and are available to tour. Wear your ski helmet. Space it tight and head bangs are guaranteed.

Interested in learning more about wartime life in the Dolomites? There is a wonderful novel by Mark Helprin, A Soldier of the Great War, that I can highly recommend. It is more than a war story and a good read.

No comments: