Along 23 km of trails, through villages and forests enriched with monuments and museums, winds the network of venues and the Memorial Paths of the territory of Montese. Akin a dialogue between a long year of war in the past and the present ,facing toward peace, the museum runs through the mountains and valleys of Montese narrating the hardships of the period from the summer of ’44 to the end of the Second World War in April of ’45. The trail is well marked by road signs and easily accessible in stages for the whole family or school groups; enhanced by the presence of two museums, one in the centre of Montese and the other in Iola, the trail can also be utilized as a didactical/tutorial support.
Some of the descriptive signs placed in topical areas (ridges, villages, battle locations etc.) give explanations on the different events.
The exact history, the ruthlessness of war, the conflict between the armies and finally, the Liberation outlined by this particular museum system emerges and is thus made much more comprehensible.
A day among the hills and mountains, forests, woods and polyphite meadows in a still rich and varied, natural environment can turn into an experience of discovery and historical study
Moreover, the hospitality and the traditional local cuisine can only enhance the pleasure of knowledge.
Shelters and Bombings
During the summer of ’44,with the advance of the allied troops towards the Tuscan-Emilian Apenines , the first Allied bombings began; from the winter of ’45 until the end of the conflict there were bombings from both conflicting sides. The population, in those long years of deprivation and violence, had to learn to live not only with the destructive power of the weapons, but also with the round ups of the Axis forces. Cellars, stables and barns were then used as shelters and bomb shelters were dug, people also hid in the sewers in the centre of Montese. A familiar knowledge of the surrounding woods and territory favoured the exhausted population; the presence of caves and natural sink holes provided essential shelter from continuous bombings and violence. Trunks of old chestnut trees became hide-outs and other shelters were built. Impending bombings were signaled by the passage of a reconnaissance plane that was renamed “Pippo” (or the stork). The long wait in the shelters could last days and nights with the fear of being discovered by the Germans. In these tight spaces the people prayed, celebrated mass, spoke quietly and tried to sleep. Many refugees came from the plains as the mountains of the Apennines were considered safer than the cities; Montese also offered refuge to several Jewish citizens persecuted by the racial laws.