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War memorials

Italy: Fagarè Della Battaglia, Sacrario Militare

Architect: Pietro del Fabro
Location: Treviso, Italy

A memorial celebrating the Heroes of the Piave and the victory at Vittorio Veneto was erected here at Fagarè in 1919. It had a central obelisk with flanking wings on which were set four marble reliefs by Marcello Mascherini. These symbolised: Italy’s entry into the War (24th May 1915); The barbaric enemy on the soil of the fatherland (24th October 1917); ‘Hence you do not pass’ (16th June 1918); and the Triumph of the Italian Armies (3rd November 1918).

In 1933-35 an arcaded ossuary was built axially behind this memorial to contain the remains of 10,255 soldiers who died in the battles on the Piave in 1917-18. The names of the 5,204 of these who were identified line the walls of the vaulted halls which flank the central chapel (which has a mosaic above the altar by Giovanni Spadea of ‘Angels in Prayer’. The building itself was designed by Pietro Del Fabro (who was also responsible for the sacrario militare at Trento) and, with its slightly curved arcade and projecting wings, is in a more conventional Classical manner than the other large Italian monuments and thus, perhaps, more comparable with contemporary British and American memorial buildings.

Because of the unflattering depiction of the enemy on the original 1919 monument, the Germans ordered its destruction in 1943 but, hearing of this, the local population removed and hid Masherini’s reliefs. They were subsequently placed on the inner flanking walls of the projecting wings, while the demolished memorial has been replaced by a smaller structure, supporting a flagpole, commemorating the dead of the Second World War.

In the gardens surrounding the memorial are the remains of a house which stood near Fagarè railway station on which are preserved soldiers’ graffiti; these include [translated] “better to live one day as a lion than one hundred years as a sheep” and “To the Piave! All heroes or all done in!” – both of which became popular Fascist slogans.

Gavin Stamp

Ministero della Difesa


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