Southern Flank of Monte Grappa
|Elevation||1,775 m (5,823 ft)|
The Grappa Massif
The Grappa massif is situated in the Venetian Pre-alps mountain range, between the Venetian plain to the south and the central-Alpine areas to the North. To the west, it is parted from the Asiago upland by the Brenta river, whereas to the east it is parted from the Cesen-Visentin massif by the Piave river. To the north are the Corlo lake and the Feltre wide valley. In the past, the massif was called Alpe Madre (Mother Alp), and is still divided into three provinces: Vicenza to the west, Treviso to the south and Belluno to the north-east. It is 1775 metres high, but his area is characterized by many other peaks such as Col Moschin, Colle della Berretta, Monte Asolone, Monte Pertica, Prassolan, Monti Solaroli, Fontana Secca, Monte Peurna, Monte Santo, Monte Tomatico, Meatte, Monte Pallon and Monte Tomba.
The origins of the Grappa Massif are dated almost ten million years ago. It was created by the collision between the African and European lithospheric plates. During the geological eras, these sediments have been interested by a cementification and then they were lifted up by these pressures that caused the Alpine mountain range to rise. Nowadays, the main types of rocks found on the Grappa are:
- The Grey Limestones: the oldest formation, comprising the biggest part of the massif: it is found on the cliff faces. Its calcareous composition has caused such an expanded karst phenomenon that brought to light a lot of caves full of stalactites, deep wells and wonderful galleries;
- the Rosso Ammonitico: with its calcareous origin, it forms the amazing “cities of stone” situated in the Poise and Meda Valleys;
- the Biancone: we can find this calcareous rock on Cima Grappa, on every rounded Massif's peak and near the villages of Borso and Semonzo;
- the Red Flake: a clayish limestone that is the raw material used to make cement.
Furthermore, during the centuries, different external atmospheric agents have modified the morphological structure of the Grappa massif:
- the glaciers, which are responsible of the Brenta and Piave rivers' high valleys and of the secondary valleys moulding. They also caused the formation of the glacial cirques near Cima Grappa;
- the creeks, which exist only in case of heavy and persistent rain. Because of the ample inclines of the beds, their erosive action has certainly been efficient and it can condone the asperities of the valley faces.
- The karst phenomenon, that is really expanded in the Massif. In fact, there are a lot of caves and wells, sinkholes and swallow holes, the absence of streams and sources at high altitudes, and the "cities of stone".
Thanks to its geographic position near the Venetian plain, the Monte grappa area is very rich of both flowers and plants. In fact, its climatic conditions has favoured the integration of the small Mediterranean scrub bushes in the alpine vegetation that is composed in prevalence by conifers, propers[clarification needed] of the snowy areas. The typical trees and bushes are the White fir-tree, the spruce fir, the beech tree; the typical flowers are the soldanella, the clematis, the fior di stecco.
The Grappa area is also rich of animal species. We can find the roe deer, the mouflon, the deer and the chamois; there are predators such as the buzzard, the peregrine falcon, the golden eagle and the eagle owl; among others, the squirrel, the fox, the badger, the green lizard.
Some of the events of the World War I and the World War II took place on the Monte Grappa massif: because of this, it is known for the military memorial monument, the statue of the Madonna del Grappa (ruined during the World War I but restored in the following years) and the World War Museum. Here there are the remains of the Italian and Austro-Hungarian soldiers. In the World War I, after the Italian Caporetto defeat, the Austrians tryed to conquer the peak to reach the Venetian plain. The Italians made caves in the rock and built fixed emplacements for the artillery so that they had the control from the Valderoa Mount to Caprile hill. The most important military work is the Vittorio Emanuele Gallery, which is equipped with water tanks, infirmaries, beds, and it crosses the underground of Cima Grappa; you can visit it. During the World War II, the Partisans sought refuge on the Monte Grappa. Here the Naziists and some Fascists exterminated a huge number of soldiers: however, those who had not been killed in the place were taken to Bassano del Grappa and publicly hanged. In the post war the NATO built a radar missile base on the Monte Grappa for the American antiaircraft defense; by the way the base was demolished at the end of the 1970s and nowadays it is in state of neglect.
The Military Memorial Monument
On the highest peak of the Monte Grappa there is a military memorial monument, projected by the architect Giovanni Greppi with the collaboration of the sculptor Giannino Castiglioni. It was inaugurated on the 22nd september 1935. In the central body are guarded the remains of 12.615 soldiers, and among them 10.332 are unknown. The monument is composed of 5 concentric circles, on top of each other forming a pyramid. On the top there is the little sanctuary of the Madonnina del Grappa. Near the monument, there is cave: some time ago people thought that some Partisans had been burnt alive by the Nazi-fascists there. Since the 1974 there has been a statue called “Al Partigiano” in that cave, realised by the sculptor Augusto Murer.
Thanks to the presence of hiking trails and mule tracks, you can practice activities such as Nordic Walking and trekking during the summer, or, in winter, walking using snow rackets and skiing. In particular, the Bassano's CAI27 has created for some years a lot of hiking trails which cross the area of Borso del Grappa.
The Monte Grappa is considered one of the most beautiful Italian hills; it is very demanding from wherever you start, because of its incline and length. The classic one course coincides with Cadorna street, which had been built by Cadorna general during the World War to reach the peak of the massif. It starts from the centre of Romano d'Ezzelino and it ends on the peak after 27 km. The two hardest parts are the first one (8 km) and the last one, whereas the middle part presents almost 3 km of slight slope. In addition, there are some events committed to this sport: among them, the Grappissima and the Monte Grappa Challenge. Grappa's slopes are also a paradise for people who practice downhill. Many times during the 1970s and 1980s, some of the stages of the Giro d'Italia took place in the Monte Grappa. However in 2010 the Giro crossed the Grappa Massif again, but it didn't reach the peak. It was the 14th stage from Ferrara to Asolo, along General Giardino street. The 2014 Giro d'Italia arrived to Cima Grappa with an uphill time trial from Bassano del Grappa. Every year, in July, there is the classic race for amateurs Bassano-Monte Grappa.
In Santa Felicita Valley there is a rock gym, that is a cliff wall equipped to practice the rock climbing. "It is one of the most known rock gyms in Veneto since the post war. There is an equipped course that copies all the complexities you can find in similar courses; there are also fixed equipment for fall tests. There are also courses of different difficulties, from the classic, in particular for the beginners."
The free flight has found the ideal conditions to be practised in Borso del Grappa. This sport gathers people from all social classes, men and women from 16 to 70 years old; in fact nowadays it is very common to see paragliders and hang gliders in the sky over the Grappa massif. The reasons why this discipline has had a great success in this area are:
- the particular climate conditions that permit the development of upward currents all year round, which allow to fly even for many hours;
- the fact that it is easy to reach the different take off points, situated on the southern slope of the massif;
- the presence of well-kept and safe landing areas.
In 1979 a group of people impassioned of free flight founded the sport association Aero Club Montegrappa, which has nowadays a lot of members (men and women) from all the Venetian provinces. Every year the association organizes one of the world's most important events called Trofeo Montegrappa, the only event in the world that gathers in two competitions paraglider and hang glider pilots. Thanks to the great presence of champions from all over the world, now the area of the Grappa Massif and its ideal conditions for the free flight are known in the world.