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

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Monte Grappa and Bassano del Grappa

The Mountaintop Bastion and War Memorial at Monte Grappa

During the last year of the Great War, Mte Grappa, just 35 miles northwest of Venice became the last mountain bastion against a potential severing of the Italian frontline and encirclement of their forces deployed along the Piave River. Immediately south of the mountain on the Brenta River is located the picturesque old Venetian town of Bassano del Grappa. In late 1917 this became the major logistical and transportation center supporting the defenders atop Mte Grappa. Today Bassano, with its heritage of heroism during both World Wars, beautiful architecture, museums and ceramics industry, is a tourist's favorite. 

The Alpini Bridge at Bassano with Monte Grappa in the Background

The most famous war monument in Bassano is the covered Ponte Vecchio, or the Alpini Bridge, over the Brenta. Built before 1209 and destroyed at various times by floods and war actions, it was remodelled several times to Andrea Palladio's design of 1568. During the Great War it became famous as the Alpini Bridge after the elite mountain troops who marched over it on their way to Mte Grappa. While crossing the bridge they sang the sentimental song "Sul Ponte di Bassano" — "On the Bridge of Bassano" — about kissing a pretty girl and squeezing her hand as they parted. 


  1. Monte Grappa's architecture is quite striking, and only 35 miles from Venice. Looks like a good spot to include on one of MH's tours.

  2. Included in the ski troops was Giovani (John) Vercellino (b. 6 Aug 1860 Salto, Torino IT) but moved to Lead SD USA, then back to Torino IT during the war serving 3 years, and finally back to Lead SD after the war (d. 24 Nov 1924).