First World War one day itineraries through Italy. Suggestion no. 15: Col Fenilon and Col Moschin

Monte Grappa #3

Roman Column on Col Moschin

This new itinerary enables the visitor to discover a place, which became legendary during the late spring 1918, namely Col Moschin. The Italian front line ran at that time from Monfenera up to the eastern edge of the Grappa range, where the strongholds of Col del Miglio, Col Fenilon and Col Fagheron dominated the Brenta river Valley and its entry into the plain, representing therefore a critical point. The positioning of the Italian troops was here particularly difficult, since they were holding on to the mountain areas closest to the plains, along the cliff edge. In the early morning of June 15th the so called Battaglia del Solstizio started with the intent to attack from Grappa and reach via Vicenza the plain. At the beginning the Austrian assault, protected by the fog, succeeded in breaking through the front lines and in conquering the main enemy’s outposts. But already the day after a small Italian unit got back all the positions. The reconquest of Col Moschin was assured by a raid of the Arditi, whose feat is still commemorated with a roman column and a plaque on its summit. The itinerary is very simple, only during the winter it could be difficult because of the snow on the top. With an altitude gap of more the 1.000 meters, it takes about 5 hours all together.

The starting point is the hamlet of San Nazario, at the beginning of the Brenta river Valley. Since the roads are really very narrow, we suggest to drive immediately to the post office and to park in front of it.

Walking down, back to the central street, and turning right you’ll reach in few meters the starting point of the path n. 38, which lies again on your right and is signaled with an informative board. Follow it along a small river bed till you reach the real track which starts with a small bend on the right. The first part of the path is simply incredible since it consists in a single stony ladder which climbs with hairpin turns the steep slope. It’s hard to conceive today the hand work required to build all those steps, used during the Great War to bring supplies up to the front line, probably in particular heavy artillery by mules. The walk presents no difficulties, even if it’s quite demanding due to the gradient of the path. You’ll have however the chance to rest if you take the time to have a look at a small hut you skirt, at the view on the Valley below and above all at the observation points and the rests of small recoveries along the ascent. Almost at the top of the slope, after a small niche, in a grove of broad-leaved trees, pay attention on your left: you will recognize the entrance of a tunneled trench. You need a torch to visit it and pay attention in walking in it: the exit with the observation point on the valley is as beautiful as dangerous because it leans over a sheer overhang and has no protections.

The path climbs up, runs along bushes and another majolica niche and reaches then a small road. Just cross it and follow again the path n. 38 which leads to the pastures on the top. If you look at your left, you’ll immediately see the metal cross on the top of Col Fenilon (1.327 m.), from where you can look at the landscape ranging from the Asiago plateau, on the other side of the Brenta river Valley, to the Cima Grappa. Leaving behind your back this latter, you will see the near Col Moschin. Before reaching it, however, we suggest you to cross the meadow and to rest at the near Rifugio Alpe Madre, where you can eat something and maybe natter with the hosts. The Rifugio lies exactly halfway, between the two summits. As soon as you are ready, go on and walk up to Col Moschin (1.279 m.) where you can see the roman column in memory of the battle of June 1918 and have a look at the surrounding landscape. The way back follows the road just below, runs again along the Rifugio Alpe Madre and then rejoins the above mentioned intersection with path n.38, which descents on your left