Tunnels and trenches on Monte Piana/Piano

Today’s walk has been fascinating, exploring tunnels and trenches on a mountain where the Austrians and Italians fought in World War 1. The northerly point, called Monte Piano, was an Austrian stronghold, linked by steep paths exposed to enemy fire, and a mechanised cableway to Lago di Landro in the valley. The southerly point, called Monte Piana, was Italian, serviced by mule tracks from Misurina and the valleys on that side of the mountain.

The entire mountain peak is covered with trenches, artillery positions, fortifications and tunnels. Fighting was fierce and many people are buried on the mountain. I can’t imagine what it would have been like, living and fighting at 2300metes, especially in winter. It must have been appalling. The tunnels were so low and cramped, and must have been extremely cold and damp, and to be under fire as well… dreadful.

Anyway… our day… We were lucky to get a free parking place for Bertie at Lago d’Antorno (1866 metres), had breakfast, and set off walking at about 8.15. The path at first climbed through pretty woodland, before joining a road up to Rifugio Bosi (2205 metres). The climb was generally steady, and it wasn’t too hot, so we made good progress, arriving at the top in about an hour, at the same time as the first shuttle bus from the valley.

From Rifugio Bosi, we broadly followed a route marked ‘historical route’, which explored the main sights, and also involved some exposed and exciting sections along cliff ledges and through tunnels.

The views were beautiful on the whole walk, including Tre Cime and Monte Cristallo. We first explored a section of the Italian trenches before heading over to the Austrian trenches. A dip in the landscape, Forcella dei Castrati (2272 metres) used to be no man’s land between the two.

There were lots of fortified positions and excavated constructions as we made our way to Croce di Dobbacio, a cross on Monte Piano, high above Lago di Landro. We enjoyed the sections of protected pathway on a ledge, and a tunnel with a railway track.

After eating our lunch by the cross, enjoying the view. looking down the valley towards our campsite, we headed back to Monte Piana and another area of Italian trenches.

Here, we found low tunnels, cut out of the rock where we needed torches. And also lookouts cut into the hillside, high above the valley, protected by cableways. We loved exploring, although it did make me sad, thinking what the soldiers on both sides had endured.

We’d pretty much finished exploring when it started to rain… and rain… and rain… and rain. It was about an hour back downhill to Bertie and by the time we got there, we were absolutely drenched! Thankfully, the rain stopped when we got back so our kit is drying, and we’ve showered and warmed up again.

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