A landscape so beautiful it’s hard to believe that the battle for this town effectively collapsed the Austro-Hungarian Empire at the end of WWI.
We’ve been skirting northern Italy as we head to our real destination in Croatia (Cres) to visit family. We made a pit-stop in Vittorio Veneto to see a long-time family friend who was part of the Italian diaspora that left after WWII, but came home several years later when the country was prospering again.
When we found out that Vittorio Veneto had played an important role in ending WWI, we visited the museum that records the circumstances around the event.
The girls learned about trench warfare and fighting wars by attrition, which essentially sees both sides try to wear down their opponent until they give in. Using the sounds of war, dioramas and video, we were able to experience what it might be like to sit in a trench in the middle of a battle, hoping that your next breath wouldn’t be your last. Sophie said she felt scared even though she knew that what she was seeing wasn’t real!
We learned about what had happened while Austro-Hungarian forces occupied the region, including famine, forced labour and the destruction of people’s homes. The museum also talked about how poorly the invading soldiers were fed, and that it was essentially a miserable situation all around; just slightly better if you were on the side with a gun.
The battle for the town began October 23, 1918 and Vittorio Veneto was recaptured on Oct. 30th, with a truce signed on Nov. 2nd. The Italians lost 38,000 troops while the Austro-Hungarians lost more than 300,000 (rivaling the 300,00 Italians soldiers who died the previous year).
Nine days later WWI ended on November 11, which we recognize throughout Canada as Remembrance Day (regardless of whether you get a holiday or not!)
Today Vittorio Veneto is a beautiful sleepy town on the edge of the Dolomites. We explored the Caglieron Caves and went for a walk through the town centre. Looking at pictures of the destruction after WWI, it’s hard to believe its the same place!