At the North-Western border of Trentino: Passo Tonale
Malè – Tonale: km 33
As early as in the 13th Century, Passo Tonale was known for its meadows and its road, that represented a resource for the peasants living in Vermiglio, once the closest village to the country border. The Pass is overlooked by the ancient hospice of St. Bartolomeo, whose bell used to give courage to the travellers who got lost in the winter fog. Its importance is due to the fact that, for several centuries, this was the borderline between the Prince Bishop domain of Trentino and Lombardy, subsequently belonging to the Dukedom of Milan, to the Venetian Republic, to the e Kingdom of Lombardo Veneto and to the Italian Kingdom since 1860. The First World War battles that were waged up here confronted the best troops of the opposing armies, and witnessed three years of sufferings and heroic actions. The Austrian-Hungarian Empire (that included Trentino) had been preparing to the conflict for a long time. Several forts had been built, efficiently equipped and forming a protecting belt against the enemy invasion. They were located at a certain distance from the border: Forte Pozzi Alti (also known as Presanella), Forte Velón, Forte Mèro, Forte Strino and Forte Zaccarana (the most modern and best equipped of all). Today, following the ravages of the so-called “recuperanti” (who went around looking for metal scraps during the wars), the best preserved fort is Forte Strino, that can easily be accessed from the main road passing right nearby. Built starting in 1860, the fort would be a barrier on the road coming from Passo Tonale and provided a defence against attempts of enemy invasions. Run by some seventy soldiers and their commanding officers, the fort was an efficient and well equipped military work.
A cable car goes up from the Pass to the Preséna glacier, equipped with facilities for winter and summer skiing. It is an easy walk providing an opportunity to find some remnants of the First World War, that still often come out of the snow.
Vermiglio – including four hamlets – is located less than 10 km away from Tonale. The village witnessed some very harsh times (including the deportation of all of its inhabitants to Austria in August 1915), but was rebuilt on its own ruins. In the clear and peaceful church dedicated to St. Stefano, a 17th century polychrome wooden altar-piece built in the Ramus workshop is worth seeing. Some paintings composing a modern, unique Via Crucis are hanged on the nave walls, and their images recall the history of the place. Pizzano and Cortina are two hamlets clustered around their respective chapels. The little, solitary church of St. Caterina, built on the homonymous hill during the 15th century, rises like in a painting. The large toll house, where the officials sent by the Prince-Bishop of Trent used to collect custom duties, dates back to the same period.

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