Passo San Pellegrino is a location particularly suited to fans of history, who marked the occasion of the centennial of World War One with a desire to discover and visit the symbolic places that formed the background for high altitude battles between Italian and Austrian-Hungarian soldiers. Just a few kilometres from Moena, between the Cime di Costabella, the Alta Via Monzoni, Cima Bocche and the Col Margherita, there are lots of itineraries which provide a walk through a veritable open air museum featuring the remains of barracks, tunnels, trenches and military outposts.
This summer a walk in Passo San Pellegrino following in the footsteps of the First World War will be even more exciting, considering the important discovery made in the last few days by Livio De Francesco, President of the association “Sul fronte dei ricordi” – “On the remembrance front” – which for more than 30 years has been committed to the maintenance and preservation of trenches, outposts and trails used by the armies on these mountains during the Great War.
In fact, the perfectly preserved skeletal remains of an Alpine soldier were found and retrieved from a dangerous and rocky area of the Creste di Costabella. “I have no doubt that it’s an Italian soldier. This is where the 56th division operated. I could detect it from everything we found around the skeleton: remains of boots, munitions for a ’91 model rifle, a Sipe hand grenade and the little grappling hook which served to attach the ladder rails used in assaults. He was a young man, strong; the enamel on his teeth is in excellent condition. He was at least one metre eighty tall. There are definitely many others buried under these rocks, he wasn’t alone” declared De Francesco.
Many clues lead to the conclusion that he died during the Italian attacks of June-July 1915. “At that time the Italian commanders were trying to secure themselves the highest peaks and crests, which meant control of the Val Cordevole and which could open an eventual path of advancement towards Bolzano,” says Michele Simonetti-Federspiel, an expert on local history and curator for the museum called “Museo della Gran Vera” in Moena. “This soldier was probably together with a platoon of attackers. The grappling hook was used to attach metal rungs to the steep rock and facilitate the assault of fellow soldiers following him.”