Now all roads lead to France and heavy is the tread
Of the living; but the dead returning lightly dance.
Edward Thomas, Roads

Sunday, May 24, 2015

100 Years Ago Today: First Shots Fired on the Italian Front, 24 May 1915

Information Kiosk at the Site

It was on the rugged, heavily forested plateau called the Altopiano that the first shots of Italy's war were fired from Monte Verena's four 150mm guns at 3 a.m. on 24 May 1915. An artillery duel ensued between Verena, located on a commanding 2,015-meter peak above the plateau, and its six sister forts on the Altopiano with the matching seven Austro-Hungarian Forts across the border.  Fort Verena — just completed in 1915 — would prove vulnerable to the enemy's powerful 305mm Skoda siege mortars. In June, a single 305mm round hit the magazine and killed most of the artillerymen inside.  The guns were removed and the fort limited in its use as an observation post.

Austrian Officers Inspecting the Fort After Its Capture in 1916

In 1916 when the Austrians launched the Italian Front's largest offensive outside the Isonzo sector, four of the seven Italian forts were destroyed or captured, including Monte Verena. The Altopiano's towns of Asiago and Arsiero were bombarded and overrun as well during the assault. The mountain is now a recreation site in both summer and winter. The views, of course, are great year-round.

Ruins of the Fort in 2011


  1. Franz Joseph answered the Italian proclamation of war with a proclamation of his own. "To my peoples: the King of Italy has declared war on me." He goes on to declare that such perfidy has not been known in history..

  2. Forts outlived there usefulness in World War I. The massive guns of Austria especially rendered them all useless.

  3. Not many structures in that era could withstand a hit from a 305mm gun. and of course there were some 410mms. Our modern 240mm 8 inch heavy guns and MRLs are adequate for most every modern war use. The Central Powers engineers just factored it to overkill size.