Livinallongo and the Great War

From the declaration of war made by the Reign of Italy on May, 15th 1915, the Great War established in the southern Dolomites one of the goriest frontlines of the whole conflict between the armies of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the one of the Reign of Italy; the two armies competed for the control over the area fighting savagely and in extreme conditions on the frontline stretching from Mount Marmolada to Mount Lagazuoi and crossing Mesola, Padon, Foppa, Col di Roda, Sief, Col di Lana, Setsass and Sass de Stria.

From May, 15th 1915 the italian troups in Caprile assaulted the southern part of the Tyrol (the so-called “Welschtirol”) occupying Colle Santa Lucia (at that time known as Puchberg or Wersil), the area of Mount Pore, Larzonei, Andraz, Collaz, Foram, Salesei and Pieve (that is actually the greatest part of the Municipality of Livinallongo). The Austrian command in Livinallongo ordered the immediate evacuation of the town and managed the relocation of the mounment dedicated to the local heroine Katharina Lanz, that was arranged in the cemetery of Corvara. The Austrian inhabitants of Livinallongo that lived on the occupied area took refuge in Colle Santa Lucia or were compulsorily moved to other italian regions.

The Austrian reaction to the Italian attack was immediate: from the La Corte Fort, the Habsburg army bombarded heavily the occupied part of the valley (Pieve was destroyed in the month between August, 17th and mid-September 1915). In the later stages of the conflict, the La Corte Fort was abandoned by the Austrian army and the frontline was shifted to the Col di Lana, the hill overlooking the Fodom Valley, where the slaughter reached its peak; after entire months of draining trench warfare, the mine specialists of the Reign of Italy blasted the top of the hill with a huge detonation (whose crater is still clearly visible) on April, 17th 1916; the Austrian army was decimated, with hundreds of dead soldiers and war prisoners.

Still today, striking cemeteries and war monuments remind us of the thousand of victims of the Great War: initially they were set up in time of war as makeshift burial places (in Pian di Salesei, Andraz, Col de Roda, Val Parola, Pordoi Pass); in the following years they have become symbols of the madness of wartime. The Shrine of Pian di Salesei, which contains the remains of almost 5000 unknown dead, 700 identified soldiers and 19 Austrian soldiers was built in 1938. In 1935 was built the Chapel of the Col di Lana; the square of Pieve houses a monument with the names of the 135 Fallen coming from Livinallongo.

From the end of the conflict in 1918, the exiles started to return to the Fodom Valley and to rebuilt patiently what had been destroyed; the reconstruction was subsidised by the Italian Government and by a consortium created in the area of the former South Tyrol which now had become part of the Reign of Italy. Livinallongo was officially annexed to the Province of Belluno by the Treaty of San Germano (1923); Mussolini added the denomination “del Col di Lana” to the toponym Livinallongo to celebrate the Italian victory in the Great War; the name was confirmed by the inhabitants of Livinallongo with a referendum in 1983.

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