Southern Flank of Monte Grappa
|Elevation||1,775 m (5,823 ft)|
|Prominence||1,456 m (4,777 ft) |
|Parent range||Venetian Prealps|
Monte Grappa (1,775 m) is a mountain of the Venetian Prealps in Veneto, Italy. It lies 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, and to the east it is separated from the Cesen-Visentin massif by the Piave river. To the north lie Corlo lake and Feltre valley. In the past, the mountain was called Alpe Madre (Mother Alp), and is currently divided among three provinces: Vicenza to the west, Treviso to the south and Belluno to the northeast. It is the highest peak of a small massif, which also includes 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 Grappa Massif was formed almost ten million years ago. It was created by the collision between the African and European lithospheric plates. Over the millennia, these sediments have been interested by a cementification and then they were lifted up by 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 caves;
- the Rosso Ammonitico: with its calcareous origin, it forms the “cities of stone” situated in the Poise and Meda Valleys;
- the Biancone: a calcareous rock which is found on the summit and around the villages of Borso and Semonzo;
- the Red Flake: a clayish limestone that is also the raw material used to make cement.
Furthermore, over the centuries, different external atmospheric pressures have modified the morphological structure of the Grappa massif.
- the glaciers, which are responsible for the high valleys of the Brenta and Piave rivers. They also caused the formation of the glacial cirques near the summit.
- the creeks, which have been caused by erosion from rainwater.
- The karst phenomenon, that is really extensive in the Massif. 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".
Due to its geographic position near the Venetian plain, the Monte Grappa area is very rich in both flowers and plants. In fact, its climatic conditions has favoured the prevalence of small Mediterranean scrub bushes and alpine vegetation that is composed mostly of conifers[clarification needed] in the snowy areas. Typical trees and bushes on Monte Grappa include Mount Maple (Acer pseudoplatanus) and Lime tree (Tilia platyphyllos) with various geophytes underneath, the White Fir tree (Abies concolor), the spruce fir and the beech tree. Typical forest flowers include; Dandelion (Leontodon tenuiflorus), Knautia persicina, Globularia nudicaulis, Wild Peony (Paeonia officinalis), the Cengio iris (Iris cengialti), soldanella and clematis. Typical pasture grasses include;Festuca paniculata and Helictotrichon parlatorei, and on the cliffs, Minuartia graminifolia can be found.
The Grappa Massif is also rich in fauna. Common species include roe deer, mouflon, and chamois; there are birds of prey such as the buzzard, the peregrine falcon, the golden eagle and the eagle owl, and squirrels, the foxes, badgers, and lizards can all be found on its slopes.
Some of the events of World War I and World War II took place on Monte Grappa, and a memorial monument, the statue of the Madonna del Grappa (ruined during the World War I but restored in the following years), and a World War Museum lie on the mountain. The remains of Italian and Austro-Hungarian soldiers who died in war are kept here.
During World War I, after the Italian Caporetto defeat, the Austrians tried 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 could keep 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 and beds.
During World War II, the Partisans sought refuge on Monte Grappa. Here the Nazis and some Fascists killed a huge number of soldiers: however, those who had not been killed in battle were taken to Bassano del Grappa and publicly hanged.
Post war, NATO built a radar missile base on Monte Grappa for American anti-aircraft defense, which was demolished in the 1970s.
The Military Memorial Monument
On the summit of 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 22 September 1935. In the central body the remains of 12,615 soldiers are guarded, among them the identities of 10,332 are unknown. The monument is composed of five concentric circles, laid on top of each other to form a pyramid. On the top there is the little sanctuary of the Madonnina del Grappa.
Near the monument, there is cave where some[who?] people thought that some Partisans had been burnt alive by the Nazi-fascists. Since 1974 there has been a statue called Al Partigiano in that cave, made by the sculptor Augusto Murer.
Due to the presence of hiking trails and mule tracks, activities such as Nordic Walking and trekking are popular 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.
Monte Grappa is considered one of the most difficult Italian cycling climbs. It is very demanding from wherever you start, because of its incline and length. The classic route coincides with Cadorna street, which had been built by Cadorna general during the World War to reach the summit. 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 and last kilometres, whereas the middle section is slightly more gentle. In addition, there are some events committed to cycling - among them the Grappissima and the Monte Grappa Challenge. Grappa's slopes are also a paradise for people who practice downhill cycling. Monte Grappa was included in the Giro d'Italia several times during the 1970s and 1980s. During the 2010 Giro the Grappa was climbed again, but it didn't reach the summit. The 2014 Giro d'Italia arrived on Cima Grappa after an uphill time trial from Bassano del Grappa. Every year, in July, there is a classic race for amateurs on the mountain called Bassano-Monte Grappa.
In Santa Felicita Valley there is a cliff wall which is used to practice the rock climbing. known as a rock gym "It is one of the most well known such gyms in Veneto. There is a fully equipped course that mimics all the complexities that are found in similar courses; there are also fixed equipment for fall tests.
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.