Did you know that a line of abandoned fortresses dot the mountains of North Italy?
Similar to the Maginot line in France, the Siegfried Line of Germany, or the National Redoubt of Switzerland, the Alpine Wall was built as a defense in preparation for World War II at the direction of Italian dictator Benito Mussolini.
In Italy there was concern that the natural defense of North Italy’s mountainous terrain was not enough while tensions rose with its neighbors along the top of the “boot”: France, Switzerland, Austria and the former Yugoslavia.
So the mountains were enhanced with lookout posts and fortifications all along the passes, stretching 1851 km: all Italy’s northern frontier. The Alpine Wall fortifications varied between three projects: large mountainside forts, rallying points and bunkers, and point-defense fortifications. Many of these can still be seen today between the mountains!
Despite the economic effort for building them, these fortifications were barely used during the war. Few of these saw a battle and many were destroyed or later given to Yugoslavia as a part of war retributions. Later, when the Cold War ended, the Alpine Wall was abandoned and sealed.
Today these fortifications still have a function: an interesting place of exploration. Visitors can walk back into the memories of the Second World War. These abandoned, austere concrete structures adorn the natural landscape of North Italy: a contrast between the beauty of Earth and the horror of war.