Rumble: South Tyrol. Wars and Skiing...

The area we are visiting now, is South Tyrol. In German: Südtirol. In Italian: Alto Adige, Sudtirolo or Sud Tirolo. Officially, it is called the "Autonomous Province of Bolzano-Bozen".
It lays south of the Alps, and is a part of Italy, even though everyone here has German as their mother tongue. They must be the only Italians who greet you, not with "Buongiorno", but with "Gruessgott" (translated:"Greet God"), just like in Austria.

It is a piece of land which the Italians nicked from Austria during World War I. This makes interesting history.

When Austria-Hungary, in 1914, declared war against Serbia, thus starting World War I, Italy remained neutral at first, but was soon dragged into the turmoil.
The front line followed mostly the then Austrian-Italian border, which ran right through the highest mountains of the Alps. The ensuing front became known as the "War in ice and snow", as troops occupied the highest mountains and glaciers all year long. Twelve metres (40 feet) of snow were a usual occurrence during the winter of 1915–1916 and tens of thousands of soldiers disappeared in avalanches. The remains of these soldiers are still being uncovered today. The Italian "Alpinis", as well as their Austrian counterparts ("Kaiserjäger", "Standschützen" and "Landesschützen") occupied every hill and mountain top and began to carve whole cities out of the rocks. They even drilled tunnels and living quarters deep into the ice of glaciers. Guns were dragged by hundreds of troops on mountains up to 3 890 m (12,760 feet) high. Streets, cable cars, mountain railways and walkways through the steepest of walls were built.

Whoever had occupied the higher ground first was almost impossible to dislodge, so both sides turned to drilling tunnels under mountain peaks, filling them up with explosives and then detonating the whole mountain to pieces, including its defenders.

After the Austrian defeat in 1918, the Southern part of the Austrian province of Tyrol was attached to Italy, even though it was mostly inhabited by ethnic Germans, Ladins (that is Ladins, not Latins nor Latinos!) and only had a small Italian minority: South Tyrol.

Today, we did not mind the violent history. We just... skied! With the hope of not tripping over a frozen body of a soldier from the first World War. Or worse: being chased by a guy who did not know the first World War was over yet! Here are my girls this morning:

Map and history source: Wikipedia on South Tyrol


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