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The Mount Brione Forts

History and nature of Garda Trentino.

by Marco Ghirello

In the heart of Garda Trentino, between the municipalities of Riva del Garda and Torbole, lies the impressive Mount Brione. This 376-metre-high rock formation is home to several forts from the Austro-Hungarian period, built between the second half of the 1800s and the early 1900s.

The particular conformation of Mount Brione makes it an extraordinary vantage point towards the lower Sarca valley and the northern shore of Lake Garda. Due to its strategic importance, it was chosen by the Austro-Hungarian army as a suitable place to fortify and defend the border.

Today, Mount Brione is a popular tourist destination for many hikers and trekking enthusiasts, thanks to a special trail that allows easy exploration of the area and a visit to the military fortifications along the path.

Flora and fauna of Mount Brione.

The Mount Brione is a place of great naturalistic value for its flora, which includes around 500 different species and all of which are present in a very restricted area. This diversity is due to the geographical position of the mountain, which lies on the northern border of the Garda area, where the climate is positively influenced by the nearby Lake Garda.

Most of the surface area of Monte Brione is occupied by terraces cultivated with olive trees, a traditional crop that over the centuries has made an important contribution to the sustenance of the people of Lake Garda. Only a smaller part is covered by spontaneous vegetation.

In this area, coexist species typical of warm and dry environments, such as box, holm oak, broom, laurel and many others, but also species more suited to cool and humid climates. Among the rare or uncommon species that can be observed in the Mount Brione Biotope, there are even wild orchids.

The Mount Brione hosts a rich and varied fauna, with many species suited to hot and dry climates. Among these, the most important are the birds, which represent a true rarity for Trentino, because they are linked to Mediterranean ecosystems. Among the most characteristic are the solitary sparrow, the Sardinian warbler and the rufous-tailed rock thrush.

From the Great War to the Peace Trail.

The excursion to the Mount Brione forts starts from Fort San Nicolò, located on the slopes of the mountain and near the port of the same name in Riva del Garda. Built between 1860 and 1862, it was a first-generation fort with the main function of controlling traffic on the lake between Riva and Torbole, as well as the function of closing the passage on the nearby road. It was modernised and extended in 1911-1912 with the use of reinforced concrete.

From this point, we walk on the trail that is part of the Sentiero della Pace (Peace Trail), a 350-kilometre-long route that links the sites of the Great War on the Trentino front, from the Tonale Pass to the Marmolada. This amazing itinerary was created between 1986 and 1990, joining numerous paths and old military roads. Each path is characterised by the presence of signposts depicting a yellow dove.

After about a 15-minute walk through the forest, we arrive at the second stage of the hike on Mount Brione: Fort Garda.

Built between 1904 and 1907, this fourth-generation reinforced concrete fort housed around 150-200 soldiers inside. 70 metres long and 15 metres wide with a surface area of 900 m2, it is built on several levels following the profile of the mountain. The aim was to camouflage itself with its surroundings and offer a smaller surface area visible to enemy artillery. The fort was recently restored, offers a guided tour inside and can be visited free of charge.

From this point, the path continues to climb along the ridge of Mount Brione, in a succession of breathtaking views of Lake Garda and the nearby towns of Riva and Torbole.

After about 30 minutes of walking, following the direction of the antennas on the top of the mountain with our eyes, we arrive at the third stage of the route: the Batteria di Mezzo.

Built between 1898 and 1900, this third-generation fort is considered a splendid example of a fortification built on bumps. It could accommodate around 100-150 soldiers inside and in 1915 it was equipped with a long tunnel leading to some observatories located on the sheer wall of Mount Brione. Its main function was to control the Nago-Torbole area and the mouth of the nearby Sarca river. Today, it can only be visited on certain days, so we recommend asking the volunteers who maintain Fort Garda for more information.

Near the Batteria di Mezzo there is the Croce del Monte Brione, a viewpoint that we recommend visiting and that is easily reached by climbing a few steps. From here it is possible to enjoy an incredible view over the entire lower Sarca valley and the town of Torbole.

Our hike on Mount Brione finally goes to the last stop of the route: Fort S. Alessandro.

Built between 1880 and 1881, this second-generation fort was later modernised in 1908 and 1911, when it was equipped with a radiotelegraph station and a powder magazine that can still be seen nearby. Its main function was to control the northern area towards Arco and provide optical signalling support to other forts in the area. All that remains of this fort today are ruins, but we still recommend reaching it to be enchanted by the splendid panorama.

This hike is suitable for everyone, including families with children, and is not particularly difficult. We recommend suitable footwear for walking on gravel terrain and to avoid the hottest hours of the day during the summer.

The Mount Brione forts therefore represent an important historical heritage for Garda Trentino. It is essential to preserve and enhance these structures to ensure that they can continue to tell their story to future generations. Visiting these places is not only a journey through time, but also a journey within ourselves. A way to closely understand the tragedy of war and to motivate ourselves to not repeat the past mistakes.

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How to get to Mount Brione

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