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

Sunday, August 16, 2015

D'Annunzio's Vittoriale

Entrance Facing Lake Garda

Gabriele D'Annunzio [1863–1938] was one of the most colorful and controversial personalities of the Great War. The Pescara-born literary innovator moved to Rome in 1881 and quickly became distinguished as a poet, novelist, dramatist, and librettist. In 1914 he became a vocal activist for Italy's entrance on the Entente side. After war was declared, he was active as foot soldier, sailor, and aviator all over the Italian Front. His daring missions to Trieste, Pola, and especially his August 1918 propaganda flight over Vienna, became part of the Italian war heritage. Afterward he would lead an illegal occupation of the Dalmatian port of Fiume and would be an early proponent of fascism. 

His career, especially his participation in the First World War, is commemorated at a museum he planned in detail called the Vittoriale, adjacent to his home at Gardone Riviera on the southwest corner of Lake Garda. The only site I have visited that is comparable to this in location and grandiosity of design is Hearst Castle in San Simeon, California.  Here is a selection of images from the compound.  I've focused on World War I images and avoided some of the many, many depictions of D'Annunzio that are scattered around the grounds, except for his mausoleum, which – I believe – says a lot about the man.

The Airplane That Took D'Annunzio Over Vienna

Cruiser Puglia (Do You Have a Full-Sized Warship in Your Back Yard?)

Or a Torpedo Boat in Your King-Sized Garage?

Monument to the Italian Victory of 1918 on the Piave
from Original Pylons of Bridges over the River

Mausoleum: RIP, D'Annunzio. You Wanted to Leave Your Mark

Photos from the Fondazione Vittoriale Website and Wiki Commons