Road of Heroes

Monte Paubio

Mte. Pasubio

Mte. Pasubio, a stupendous series of peaks and high plateaus Southeast of Rovereto and north of Vicenza was a strategic position from 1916 through the end of the war. It played a roll on the Italian Front similar to Mte. Grappa further North. Capturing it would have given the Austrian high command access to the Venetian Plain and the ability to capture much of the Italian Army from the rear. At the start of the war, Pasubio had been in Austrian territory, but was quickly occupied by the Italians who built a new trench line further north before Rovereto and the Asiago highplains.

Trench Atop Pasubio

In May 1916, Austro-Hungarian forces launched their Strafexpedtion [aka The Battle of Asiago] and quickly captured the Vallarsa and Val Posina valleys, Mt. Col Santo, Val d'Astico and part of the Asiago Plateau. At Mte. Pasubio, the Liguria Brigade under the command of General Achille Papa was able to stop the Austrian Army after being quickly transferred from the Isonzo Front. They were able to secure one of two peaks in the Cima Palon section of the massif. Papa's troops occupied the more southerly peak, Dente Italian [the Italian tooth], the Austrians the other [Dente Austrico] -- the two positions separated by a saddle. This allowed the Italian defenders to stabilize the front on the line from Mte. Pasubio to Mt. Ortigara on the Asiago Plateau by June 3rd.

Rifugio Papa - Named for General Papa

The front held along the saddle between the two peaks for another two years. The plateau became a land of bloody and hard battles involving the best alpine troops of the two sides, an as epic battle for the Kaiserjager as well as the Italian Alpini. Italy would award 30 Gold Medals for valor for the fighting on Mte. Pasubio.

Map of Southern Edge of Massif

Today Mte. Pasubio seems to have been torn by giant plows. Trails dynamited into the rocks along deep vertical walls and dozens of tunnels with small cross sections make hiking this trail an exceptional experience. The mountain massif is crisscrossed by strategic trails and roads built around 1917 by Italy during the sad war with Austria. The Road of Heroes leads from Passo Fuggaze at 1162m. altitude past Refugio Papa [named in honor of the Liguria Brigade's commander] to the eastern edge of the trail backing the Italian position at 1925m. Thousands of miners assigned to the 5th Engineering Regiment built the next core section of the trail, called "Strada delle Gallerie" (road of tunnels) under enormous time pressure in only 11 months. This section includes fifty-two tunnels providing cover or leading to the North face of the Italian position. The Strada drops downward in this zone of galleries to about 1200m. The 52 galleries in the aggregate total 2280 meters in length.

Various Gallery Entrances

Austria-Hungary desperately needed to break through at Mte. Pasubio. The British Official History of the Italian campaign notes (page 140) that ... at 3 am 13 March 1918, using 110,000 lbs of ecrasite, the Austrians blew a salient of the Italian front position into the air. Pasubio never fell, however. It's 52 galleries made it an unbreakable citadel.

Sources and Thanks: Mario Trecco provided much of the information and most of the images used here. Thanks to Silvano Malaguti for his kind permission to use the final two phots which he took in 1978. Francis Mackay provided additional help on the text.

To find other features on La Grande Guerra visit our

Directory Page

For Great War Society
Membership Information

Click on Icon

For further information on the events of 1914-1918 visit the homepage of

The Great War Society

Additions and comments on these pages may be directed to:
Michael E. Hanlon ( regarding content,
or toLeo Benedetti ( regarding form and function.
Original artwork & copy; © 1998-2000, The Great War Society