Isonzo: The Great War’s Forgotten Tragedy

As regular readers know, I have a special interest in the Isonzo front of the Great War, the bloody dozen battles that raged in the Alps on what is now the border of Italy and Slovenia from May 1915 through October 1917. The word slaughter isn’t too strong to describe the Isonzo tragedy, which far outpaced the better known battles at Verdun, the Somme, and Passchendaele in terms of lives lost. For almost two and a half years two great armies pummeled each other in one of the most beautiful valleys in Europe, for no strategic gain.

0000000.-Slovenia5My first book, available in English and Italian, detailed the all-but-forgotten Isonzo front and introduced it to English-speaking audiences. I’ve written about the Isonzo battles more than once on this blog too (see here and here), explaining their continuing relevance to Europe today.

With the centenary of the Great War upon us, there’s growing interest in that monumental conflict, so when I was approached by a travel company to put together a tour of the Isonzo I didn’t hesitate — especially because no such tour existed. I’ve designed a one-of-a-kind tour next May, led personally by the top expert on this front — that would be me — that will take you through the Isonzo valley. Here the battlefields of 1915-1917, having been mostly forgotten by history, remain remarkably as they were a century ago. Commerce and tourism have altered their appearance little, so this bespoke tour will be something special.

This will be a unique opportunity to see the Isonzo valley’s beautiful sights, witness history first-hand, and have a fun time doing it. The rugged mountains and the turquoise-blue river are breathtaking. Local food and wine are excellent. We will visit fortresses, entrenchments blasted in rock a hundred years ago, monuments, museums, cemeteries, and battle sites the whole length of the Isonzo valley. The tour will begin in Vienna, the onetime Habsburg capital, to set the proper historical tone for the period.

Come see what Ernest Hemingway, an ambulance driver in the Italian Army, wrote of so vividly of in A Farewell to Arms. See where a young officer named Erwin Rommel won the Pour le Mérite, the highest Prussian decoration, beginning his legendary career. See where an Italian corporal, one Benito Mussolini, nearly succumbed to wounds on a limestone plateau overlooking the Adriatic. See where nearly two million men were killed or maimed. See where Europe was permanently changed by slaughter.

If you’d like information about this special tour, click here — and send the link to anybody who might be interested. We’ll have a great time. Thanks.