Fort Montecchio North is situated just outside the centre of the beautiful town of Colico. It is a defensive building, built in just one year between 1913 and 1914, on the occasion of the first world war. As it wasn’t attacked or bombed, it could be renovated and opened to the public as a museum. The Fort in reality has never been used for the war but just for military training and, till the 70ies, as armoury.
From outside, next to the domes and from the square, there’s a breathtaking and exciting view: the mountains are reflected in the water, the towns overlook the Lake and the water that reflects the colours of the sky and the mountains is a true splendour.
Visiting Fort Montecchio North
The visit to the Fort Montecchio North is guided and last 40 minutes of walking inside it, whilst listening to the guides very well acknowledged and able and available for any answer. If you think 40 minutes are too long you will change your opinion while visiting rooms and listening to curiosities.
The high marble walls protect an historic treasure made of underground walkways – hidden routes to those who came from the outside – and an armoury that stretches into the rock to a depth of 60 metres; to move from one area to another you must follow the walkways, while to get to the parade ground below you have to passing through the great gate.
There are 3 blocks: one – the barrack – for the kitchens, the warehouses and the housing of the military; the second that can be accessed through the long covered walkway (140 meters long and 3 meters high) and the third one which is on the upper floor and is known as “Battalion floor”.
There was not a dining hall so militaries were used to eat in the open air – in the arms square – when the weather was good while in their beds in the case of bad weather.
The tour starts in the bottom area, with the big lawn where soldiers were used to spend their free time, relaxing and playing but also drinking and washing themselves. Here, at the bottom floor, there were the kitchens and the bathrooms, one for the troops and one for the officials.
Entering the block there is the head quarter with, fixed at the wall, a map dated back to 1939 showing the strategic position of the fort, positioned between two important ways for possible attacks (Valchiavenna and Valtellina). Scope of the fort was destroying enemy attack bases.
During the visit the different rooms where militaries were used to live are visited; the official room was used as infirmary (there still is the scale for the height of the militaries) and was equipped with flowing water due to a dedicated pump and a suspended tank.
The guide will now give you a small curiosity: it is supposed that the height scale started at 1.60 meters, but since King Vittorio Emanuele was a little guy, the height was modified down, finally starting at 1.50 meters.
From the infirmary, the next step is the dormitory where about 40 soldiers slept during the first war, while 100 where here during the second one. Here there were 40 spikes on the wall, 40 beds and 40 lockers. With the increase of the soldiers, during the 2nd war, bunk beds were instead used.
Every room was warmed up with wood stoves and particular structures specifically studied for the purpose allowed good air flow.
Going forward in the visit here is the long connection tunnel with its embrasure that allowed to look outside and shoot. At the upper floor there were the armoury built inside the rocks and the room for the loading of the arms. These, in the unlucky case of blast, would have collapsed easily keeping safe the rest of the fort.
The tour in the history goes on in different rooms which, in the case of attacks, would have allowed to exit the fort and also get water tanks. Going up again, there are signs dated back to 1939 when the fort was frontier place. From this the phrase ”Ogni guardia di frontiera vale per tre” (Every frontier guard counts for 3).
Finally there are other rooms, the command office, where officers and soldier was used to study the papers with the coordinates for the cannon shoots, and the good lifts for the transfer of the rounds among floors. Communications between floors were managed through cavities while with the external through telephone.
Inside the cannon
Finally here we are to one of the most awaited and interesting moments of the tour: the visit inside the cannon. Up through a stepladder it is reached a circular space, in the centre of which there is the cannon that was armed by 6 artillerymen. The cannon has an intercom through which the artillerymen got the shoot coordinates. Visitors will have the chance to attend the demonstration showing how it works.
All the phases to make the cannon work are shown by the guide who, step by step explains every mechanism and moment of its usage, from the charging to the cleaning.
After this the guide drives visitors outside where it is possible to take pictures closed to the cannons and also of the wonderful panorama.
The tour is quite to the end, just a quick view of the winch used to raise the pieces of the cannons that needed to be changed, a look to the electric plants working with a liquid similar to gasoline and finally the ventilation system.
Just outside the Fort Montecchio North, near the ticket box, it is finally possible to buy gadgets and articles, leaving messages or comments on the guest book.
This is an historical record for all the fans and for those who want to visit a place absolutely out of the ordinary, a place we suggest to discover part of our history and fragments of the life inside a fort during the war periods.
Fort Montecchio North is placed in Colico, in Via delle Torri number 8.
Information about time of opening and price can be found at the official website Fortemontecchionord.