A visit to Forte Montecchio Nord, the Italian fortress of wonders

A striking plan view of Forte Montecchio Nord, with its four 149/35 cannons mounted inside steel domes capable of rotating 360 degrees.

Forte Montecchio Nord, whose full name is Forte "Aldo Lusardi" al Montecchio Nord, was built in Colico between 1912 and 1914 to reinforce the so-called northern frontier and create an impassable stronghold in anticipation of an invasion of Italy through the valleys bordering Switzerland. Its most interesting feature, in addition to the almost perfect state of preservation of the barracks, is a battery of four 149/35S cannons mounted inside domes capable of rotating 360 degrees, with an elevation range of -8°/+42°. The cannons could fire projectiles weighing between 36.24 and 42.8 kg with a range of about 18 kilometers. Despite its strategic location, Forte Montecchio was never directly contested in World War 1. During World War 2, the cannons of Montecchio Nord, which fell under the control of partisans, fired five shots that stopped the fleeing column of German soldiers who had recently handed over Mussolini, Mussolini's mistress Clara Petacci and other Fascist leaders to the partisans in nearby Dongo. Montecchio's cannons fired again and for the last time in 1947, to honor the funeral of Lepoldo Scalcini and other local partisans shot by the Nazis.

The beautiful wall map in the command room.
The breech of one of the four 149/35 cannons.
The muzzle of one of the 149/35 cannons protected by an armored dome.
The cannon battery of Forte Montecchio is dominated by Mount Legnone.
The building located at the entrance, which houses the museum's ticket office.

Forte Montecchio Nord, a pearl among military fortifications 

The upper entrance gate of Forte Montecchio Nord. 

The fort takes its name from Montecchio Nord, the high ground on which it was built, and in 1939 was named after Aldo Lusardi, Gold Medal of Military Valor, who fell in Ethiopia in 1935. Converted into a powder magazine, it was used until 1981 when it was permanently decommissioned. After years of neglect, it was entrusted to the management of the Museo della Guerra Bianca in Adamello, a museum which together with the Lombardy Region and the municipality of Colico have transformed it into an extraordinary reality that can be visited by the general public. Moreover, the fort's location is very easy for visitors since it is actually in the town of Colico, less than a kilometer from the train station. 

The upper parade ground courtyard offers a beautiful view of Lake Como.

Thanks to the extraordinary helpfulness of Stefano Cassinelli, director in charge of Forte Montecchio Nord, we were able to visit this extraordinary structure during the closing hours and we were obviously amazed. The level of preservation is really perfect, in particular all the internal structure of the batteries, with the ramps for lifting ammunition and the traverse systems are perfectly clean and lubricated – they seem to be able to start working again at any time. Here, fortunately, the iconoclastic furor that caused the disappearance of so much evidence of Italian military history has not been unleashed. On the contrary, today Forte Montecchio is a tourist attraction that can be visited year-round: on the facility's website you will easily find all the information about opening hours. The fort also admits group visits by prior arrangement, and in this case it is necessary to contact the secretariat. The visit includes a guided tour, which is then the best way to discover every secret of this beautiful fortress. The ticket price is 9 euros (5 for children from 5 to 17 years old) and we can assure you that you can't spend your money better, simply because another fort like Montecchio Nord does not exist in all of Europe, regardless of the ticket price. But we don't want to dwell on it: if you are a fortification enthusiast you probably already know everything about it; if you are just curious, we leave you the pleasure of discovering all the information and curiosities about this very interesting destination by watching our video and photos. If, on the other hand, you are in a hurry, you can visit the Forte Montecchio Nord website to find out everything you need to know to plan your visit. 

To learn more visit about hours, prices, and all useful information please visit the Forte Montecchio Nord website.

Video: A visit to Fort Montecchio North

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