Last updating on: 2nd October 2012

WELCOME here it is:

a humble contribution to recognizing the forgotten forts and

A GUIDE TO THE FORTIFICATIONS OF

The italian alpine wall in Eastern Alps and Carso (1920-1943)



As a hiker and outdoors enthusiast, i'm often given the opportunity to visit the wonderful mountains and woods of Eastern Alps and Carso. During my hikings, many a time did i happen to run into fortifications of all types but mostly small bunkers whose prevalent weapon is the heavy machine gun. These fortifications have been made by fascist Italy during the 30's along the border with the kingdom of Jugoslavia. Nowadays most of fortifications are left in former Jugoslavian territories since the old border line between former kingdoms of Italy and Jugoslavia is almost entirely located in western Slovenia and Croatia. The line was an official international boundary from november 1920 to the end of the second world war.

The wall was not intended to just defend the easternmost sector of the alpine ridge, but it was a more complex project aimed to protect the whole alpine ridge: it ran from the Tyrrenian coasts in front of France eastwards to the Adriatic Sea. Some sources state that the total lenght of the defensive system was 1851 km. So, after facing the southern side of the Maginot line, the Vallo alpino system continued along the borders with Swissland, Austria and Jugoslavia. Other italian territories like the province of Zara (Zadar) in Dalmatia, the italian dodecannesos islands and Albania have been fortified in the same years. Not to mention the by far longer borders of african colonies like Lybia, Somalia, Ethiopia and Eritrea. Anyway the most important border to defend was the Alps so it was from French mediterranean shores to Fiume (Rijeka) on the Adriatic Sea where most of resources converged to complete the most important defensive system on the most important border line.

This website focuses in describing something about the 250 km long easternmost sector (the old border with the Kingdom of Jugoslavia) which is by far the less known. This strech starts at the junction of Carnic Alps with Julian Alps (in present days border area between Austria and Italy) and goes south running on the watershed between the Adriatic Sea and the Black Sea. The old border went down through the Carso area and, after including mount Nevoso (Sneznik), it splitted the fast declining slopes to Quarnero (Kvarner gulf) ending up along a small river from which the city of Fiume (Rijeka) takes its name.

This strech of Vallo isn't as known as the others for a few reasons; the most obvious one is the following: the line has been entirely included for almost 50 years in a country belonging to the communist sphere.

Let local readers forgive me for quickly repeating well-known historical facts; infact the following notes weren't intended for local readers to read as they are an extremely quick and superficial sight on "rapallo border" history: a border born in 1920 from 1WW which marked the destiny of hundred thousands peoples of this part of central/south eastern Europe during the following 27 years.

This border (well known by local slovenians as Rapalska Meja) takes its name from the city near Genoa (Rapallo) where it was ratified in 1920 by the representatives of the kingdom of Italy and those of Jugoslavia. That border line was the consequence of the first world war and the victory of Italy on the austro-hungarian empire. The annexed area infact was part of what Italy has been promised by England, France and Russia in the secret treaty of London in april 1915 in case Italy had joined them in declaring war on the central empires. Had she entered the war, once won, Italy should have been given a land she had always considered "eastern italian provinces" for historical and geografical reasons. These lands were Dalmatia, most of her isles, the whole water basin of the Isonzo river and the area referred to by italians as "venezia giulia" (istria, carso, part of south western carniola and the Quarnero region with Fiume and its islands). Since annexed land was actually just a part of what Italy was promised, Italians considered themselves betrayed. Apart from Trieste and other smaller cities inhabited by an italian majority (with strong old roman and then venetian origins or developings), most of the inhabitants of this area had for centuries been extraneous to italian facts and somehow unrelated to peninsular events. The Italian point of view considers that Austrian authorities for centuries had been drawing people from slavic outback to make them settle in this area in order to weaken the presence of italians. Being this not the right place to discuss any historical thesis nor the most appropriate place to speak about the history of the XX century, the statu quo was undoubtly that Italy in 1918 could annex a territory whose overall inhabitants were mainly of slavic origin. Whatever the side one belongs to, the most condivisible and reasonable comment, drawn after 83 years from a cool point of view, could be the following: that border, being the consequence of a 4 years long war, was considered a right thing by winners and a terrible mutilation by loosers.

The defensive aim of Vallo was overcome by the outward bound aggressive behavior of fascist regime and the eastern system has been completely useless since Italy invaded Jugoslavia in april 1941. War actions involving Vallo fortifications during the italian occupation of Slovenia and Croatia are not known.

During the 2WW, just a few days after the collapse of Italy (8th of September 1943), Germans invaded and controlled their former alley territory. But, while the whole italian territory was considered as occupied land, the eastern provinces of Italy (those new ones just created at the end of the 1WW) were fully annexed to the Third Reich and considered as actual german territory. Germans' clear intention was to re-establish the situation before the first world war.

It seems that some sub/sectors of Vallo north and around the harbour-city of Fiume (Rijeka) had been actually used by Germans during the last months of war in 1945 to slow down the advance of jugoslav partisans.

The old border line split the mountainous area of Julian Alps and the wild woods of western Slovenia and Carso. In Slovenia, this line is somehow recalled by present days regional border between westermost and coastal region (primorska) with central slovenia (krajna).

Present days conditions of bunkers are different depending on the area. The wilder the area the more likely it is to find a well preserved fortification. Although there are still many intact fortifications, in general most of firing chambers have been destroyed after the 2WW as either considered somehow re-usable or to revengefully delete any signs of the italian occupation. Both previously given reasons are acceptable, but the most likely one was the heavy lack of iron of Jugoslavia in the 1950's. Often does a wild area with intact Vallo fortifications mean a place without any road for truck to pass and carry the removed steel parts. In spite of the lack of any comfortable mountain trail, the construction on such rough places was instead enormously easier thanks to the highly effective italian cableways which were probably dismantled after the setting of all heavy structures.

Eastern Alps and Carniola woods constitue one of the wildest area in the heart of central Europe. Strongholds had usually been built along the roads crossing the old border and in many cases smaller bunkers are spread to cover wider areas. It is interesting to note that many bunkers have been dug on nake summits which 60-70 years ago must have been super lookouts; these spots are, at present years, little more than simple clearings of the wood. Infact, however high and prominent these places must have been on those far days, many structures nowadays lie overgrown by bush and trees as if the thick wood were to swallow any bad sign of the past.

Take a look at the general map of the area along with a note on its geography and climate (in italian).

NEW Today's picture



Here is another example of barracks built for GAF soldiers. The building is different from the bottom example: it mostly developes vertically and its defence is given by positions on the corners. We can note mt Triglav (2864m) the highest peak in Julian Alps and the highest point touched by Vallo Giulio (the italian alpine wall facing former kingdom of Jugoslavia).

Yesterday's picture



Here is an example of barracks built for GAF soldiers. There are still many of them along the old border: the further from villages they are, the more likely they are to be freely accessible. These barracks are often completely empty, but as usually they can shelter more or less abandoned agrestial or building material. Very rarely may it happen to run into wall paintings or mottos kept hidden inside their dormitories.



PART 1 

Introduction to the bunkers of eastern Vallo alpino

Virtual visits of bunkers


NEW The FIAT (Italian cars factory of Torino) metamorphosis in Balcans.

Carta della Venezia Giulia con una nota geografica e climatica sui luoghi del vecchio confine (in italian).

A few technical notes about eastern Vallo ---CHAPTER I--- (in English).

A few technical notes about eastern Vallo ---CHAPTER II--- (in English).

A few technical notes about eastern Vallo ---CHAPTER III-- (in English).

A few technical notes about eastern Vallo ---CHAPTER IV-- (in English).

A few technical notes about eastern Vallo ---CHAPTER V-- (in English and Italian).

A drawing of a common metal observatory.

A collection of pictures (Album fotografico del Vallo orientale).

Cime e passi sulla linea di confine (summits on the border line).



PART 2

Guide to the bunkers of eastern Vallo alpino

The guide is reserved to registered visitors. It definitively is a strong enrichment of the original pages of this website.

Now, take a look at the guide summary and judge yourself if the argument would be worth while deserving a deeper insight.

Summary of the guide

1) Definitive show of fortifications with drawings by the author, original drawings (if available), photos of inside and outside details and overall pics.

1.1) Precise localization of the bunker

1.2) Precise description of the route to reach the fortification

1.3) GPS coordinates (in addition to the route description)

1.4) Detailed description of the fortification

1.5) Sector/subsector the fortification belongs to

1.6) Name and data about the stronghold the fortification was part of and list of its bunkers

1.7) Specific advice and warnings to visitors

2) Full database of all fortifications of Vallo in Eastern Alps (Julian Alps and Carso)

Each bunker is shown using this  DATA SHEET

2.1)Typology

2.2)Present conditions of the bunker

2.3)Operative conditions before abandoning

2.4) Precise localization of the bunker

2.5) Stronghold, sector/subsector

2.6)Official denomination

2.7) Data on weapons, structures and crews

3)Historical and present days topografical maps

4)Interviews to men who served in bunkers as G.a.F. soldiers

5) A collection of historical photos and photoalbum of present days eastern Vallo

6) A deeper sight into techical details of defensive works and their organization

7) Historical argumentations about pre WWII situation in the area of eastern Vallo

8) Usefull advice for a safe visit

The guide is not complete since the research at historical archives and recconnaisances require long time.

So, we count to update the guide as the research goes on. The periodicity of the updating depends on the results of the study either at archives or in the field.

PRESENT CONTENTS: 156 FORTS, 1437 PICTURES (large size).


WHY REGISTER ?

This website was originally made for hikers and alpinists or simple outdoors enthusiasts who may happen to run into any bunkers during wandering on the mountains. The author also hopes it may be usefull for experts of western Vallo to make comparisons between eastern and western Vallo fortifications by simple virtual visits. Moreover these pages were also intended for visitors from other countries to compare these bunkers with fortifications belonging to any other defensive system dating back as vallo. 

But, if u feel so involved that u would like to go in search of these forgotten fortifications instead of simply getting across them by chance, or u simply consider the argument worthy to deserve a deeper sight, u should register and enter the guide. Registered visitors are given plenty of technical data along with accurate informations and maps to reach any bunker along with usefull informations for taking a safe visit. 

By entering the reserved area, visitors are offered not a generic list of bunkers and their features for curious visitors or neofites to recognize, but a complete guide to eastern Vallo. 

This website will continue to exist with a double face or sections: a generic or introductory section for occasional or simple visitors (PART 1) and the touristic guide for those who want to know more about eastern Vallo and the places in which it was built (PART 2). The existance of the guide doesn't imply that the general section will be disregarded and left not updated: the author's intention on the contrary is to keep both sections alive by as much updating as possible.


HOW TO REGISTER ?

Simply send an e-mail making your request to the author specifying your name and address by directly clicking on posta per il vallo alpino or by writing the e-mail to: valloalpino@yahoo.it


DISCLAIMER

The author of this website and the guide underlines the risks visitors run while visiting any bunker. Visitors are invited to pay much attention to their gear and during their excursions. The guide warns the readers either by generic advice appliable to any visit or by specific warnings about any specific bunker. The author declines any responsability for any damages occured to persons or things before, after and while visiting all bunkers of the guide: either bunkers with full detailed presentation or bunker which are just listed in the database tables.

ENTER THE GUIDE



The author thinks of how powerful internet communication is. If the connoisseur or the simple visitor finds something incorrect in what he is currently reading, he can immediately write an e-mail and, what's even better, in our case, he surely gets an answer. So, don't miss the occasion to make us notice any error either on the contents or the way the webpages are shown. Besides error signalling, any advice, suggestions or comments are welcome.

In general, to make any suggestion or note please click on: posta per il vallo alpino or write an e-mail to: valloalpino@yahoo.it

I'm looking forward to hearing from you.



 

A few links

Fortifications in Slovenia (in English) Underground fortifications of western sectors of the Vallo (in Italian) Associazione per gli Studi di Storia e Architettura Militare (in Italian)
Italian fortifications and more (in Italian) Slovenian coast alpine club (in slovenian) Fortifications dating back to the second post war in Friuli Venezia Giulia region (in Italian)
Pillboxes preventing german invasion of United Kingdom Very nice pictures of Monte Nevoso-Sneznik, a natural park once on the italian side of the old border (in slovenian)  
     

 


COPYRIGHT NOTE: This site is subject to copyright. You are allowed to print out any map or picture provided that it is for your personal use only. For any reproduction and/or distribution, permission by the author should be obtained.


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