Progetti di ricerca

Una storia ambientale della guerra. Il teatro dell’Ortles-Cevedale dal 1914 alla ricostruzione postbellica

An environmental history of the War. The Ortles Cevedale Theatre from 1914 until the post-war rehabilitation

Ambito disciplinare Macroarea 3

Area scientifica Area 13 - Scienze storiche, filosofiche e pedagogiche

Tipologia finanziamento ALTRE REGIONI O PROVINCE (Finanziamenti Regionali)

Tipo di progetto Nazionale

Stato progetto Aperto

Ruolo nel progetto Capofila

Responsabilità scientifica Coordinatore

Data avvio: 13 May 2020

Data termine: 12 May 2023

Durata: 36 mesi

Importo: € 66.000


Giovanni Cadioli


Parco Nazionale dello Stelvio

Museo della Guerra di Rovereto


From 1914 to 1918 the Ortles-Cevedale sector was the linchpin in a massive mobilization following on from the Sarajevo crisis and then the Kingdom of Italy’s declaration of war against the Austro- Hungarian Empire (1915). Until the outbreak of the Great War the mountains had been of extremely marginal interest to military doctrine but the war marked a watershed in this sense, too. The mountains became operational objectives and were subjected to technological aggression designed to make them a war theatre in which thousands of men could live, work and fight. The most widespread image of this mountain war is the so-called ‘white war’ fought by small Italian and Austrian units at the highest altitudes of the Alpine sector. However, this image is only partially correct. Alpine war was actually a highly technological conflict involving the creation of great infrastructure networks (cableways, aqueducts, roads, fixed emplacements and high altitude barracks).
Nestled on the frontier between three nations — Kingdom of Italy, Austro-Hungarian Empire and Switzerland — the Ortles-Cevedale mountain system was, together with the Adamello, where the main theaters where the “white war” became “alpine war”, through the militarization of 3,000 m peaks. Military actions at high altitude followed one another throughout the fours years of war and, although less significant that the great offensives on the Isonzo river, they nonetheless not only had a key strategic relevance, but also represented an absolute element of military, technological, social and cultural novelty.


The objective of the project is to create the first multi-disciplinary and trans-national research project into the short and medium term impact of a modern war on a mountain theatre and intends not to limit its field to the fighting itself (1915- 18) but to enquire into the long term economic, social and environmental effects of this manmade attack on the mountains.
The project will therefore survey several primary and secondary sources with the goal of analyzing both from the Italian and Austro-Hungarian points of view: the development of infrastructures which allowed for the militarization of the mountains an their impact on its geography; the construction of high altitude military positions and barracks which played a key role during military actions; the rotation of troops in said positions and their living conditions, analyzed from a military social, nutritional and medical point of view; the consequences of the “white war” on local populations from an economic, social and environmental point of views; the reconversion or abandonment which followed the sudden abandonment by Austro-Hungarian troops of their positions in November 1918 after the signing of the armistice.
Three types of sources will be surveyed: secondary sources (multivolume chronicles of the war issued by Austrian and Italian military institutions, personal memoirs of the officers involved and academic publications dating from the 1920s until present time); cartographical sources (both published and unpublished, in the main military maps of emplacements and infrastructures belonging to the Italian and Austro-Hungarian high commands); primary sources (to be accessed at several Italian, Austrian and Swiss archives; the Central State Archive [ACS ITA], the Historical Office of the Army Command [USSME ITA], the Archive of the Rovereto War Museum [ITA], the Kriegarchiv [AT], the Federal Swiss Archive of Bern [CH]).