Updated: Aug 13
We are finally in Trentino, my family's ancestral home, and I couldn't be happier. As a point of clarification since y'all have probably never heard of Trentino, it has a significant history, and it is what my father really fight for in WWII.
Trentino is one of four regions of Tyrolia. The Tyrol was an independent and autonomous region of the Austrian Empire for one thousand years. In 1919, after WWI, Trentino and the South Tyrol were given to Italy. With a stroke of the pen, the entire region went from being Austrian to becoming Italian. With with people he trusted, my father always said he was Tyrolean or Austrian and not Italian. The folks in these parts are still trying to gain their independence from an Italian government that has no idea how to govern and support this region. I discuss the geopolitics of the region much more in my book, Through Sacrifice: Freedom.
When you enter a town for instance, all signs are written first in Austrian, with the Italian name written in small print below it. Most people speak German as a first language.
But first, at the very southern tip of Trentino, we visited the Sanctuary of Madonna Della Corona. A thousand years ago a hermit took refuge in a cave on the side of a mountain. Over the years he performed many miracles. Soon people would come regularly and a church was built. I should say it is nearly 600 steps from the top of the mountain (Sue and I walked every one) and just under 1,600 steps from the bottom. It's impossible to figure how it was built given the shear walls. Here is what they built.
From the Sanctuary we drove to an area my father would have walked through on his way to Val Gardena, his headquarters for the final two years of the war. It is called the Gallery of 52 tunnels, and was actually built in WWI, but used extensively by partisans in WWII. I found many caves that he would have used for refuge. I have narrated the following videos so please make sure your speakers are on. Please note that I do not know if he actually used or stayed in any specific cave or tunnel. I only know he was active in the area and would have very likely used them. Please also know that caves and tunnels like these are all throughout the Dolomite mountain range and were used by his team regularly. In the coming days I hope to uncover more. But first, to give you an idea of how high up we are, we are literally walking through a cloud.
Here are the caves photos.
Here are videos of the tunnels with commentary.
Today was really impactful for me as I got to feel first hand just a small part of what my father and his team endured. Tomorrow we go see the church where he was cornered by the Nazis, but escaped, as well as La Villa, the site of one of his hardest battles, I am hoping for access to climb the mountain to give you a better practice of the battle. See y'all in 24.