Wednesday, January 19, 2011


It was only about 15 miles from our camp site near Sirmione to Rivoli, one of Bonaparte’s most famous battles. Just before we reached Rivoli we found a road sign for Monte Pip0lo, a steep mountain just south of the town. This was the site of some minor fighting during the battle, but more important it provided excellent views of Rivoli. The town is close to the curve of the Osteria gorge (right in the photo above), and overlooked by the church of San Marco on the mountain behind. See the map below.

We found Rivoli with ease, and parked outside the small but excellent museum. It contains a diorama, which is useful for getting your bearings. We were also fortunate that the curator spoke English, as we spoke no Italian.

From the museum we walked to a nearby park to study our maps and notes and decide how to tackle the battlefield. Apart from maps, and the diorama in the museum, we had no directions or plan how best to walk the battlefield.
This is one of the maps we used for our visit. You will see that the main battle was fought in a semi circle just north of Rivoli. On the left of the half circle is Trombalore Heights, and we decided to start our walk there.
The road to Monte Baldo passes through the Heights, so we set off in the car. The Heights are obvious from the road, and we took this photo of them from the road. The Heights are the lower hill in the foreground, the mountain behind them is Monte Baldo. Despite knowing where the Heights were, we were unable to find a road or track leaving to them.
In desperation we returned to the museum in Rivoli, and asked the curator for directions. He immediately offered to take us there. He locked the museum, jumped in his car and set off at high speed, with us desperate to keep him in sight. The route took us over fields and along dirt tracks until we finally stopped behind him and he directed us to a small track leading to a ridge with this excellent view down towards Rivoli. Rivoli is just below the conical hill in the centre. Monte Pipolo is the mountain directly ahead. Monte Bando is the one on the left. An excellent spot to have our picnic lunch and identify the battlefield.
After lunch we determined to climb the steep hill leading to the site of the San Marco church, which was the scene of the most desperate fighting during the battle. It would also provide excellent views of the two Austrian approach routes. One was over Monte Baldo leading the San Marco church. The second was along the Aidge valley just below. Again see the map above. After a very hot and tiring climb we finally reached the site of the San Marco church. It was destroyed in the battle, and long since replaced by this World War One fort. This photo was taken just behind the fort and shows the path along which the Austrians had approached. There was no doubt that this was the exact scene of the hardest fighting. We would have loved to follow the path, but we had much more to see, and it was too late in the day to take on a new task. We walked to the edge of the hill, overlooking the Aidge valley. The smaller Austrian column commanded by Wukassovitch moved along the small road this side of the river but were stopped before they could reach Rivoli. See map above.
It was late afternoon when we set off to find the Rivoli monument. As part of our preparation I had read an article in an old issue of First Empire magazine about a visit to Rivoli, which mentioned the monument and had a photo of it. We knew it was in a field somewhere near Ceradino, so we drove to the village and showed the locals the photo. Eventually a help young man on a motorcycle took us on the long, winding path which took us to the monument in the middle of a field. We passed a number of private signs, so obviously visitors were not encouraged. A shame, for it is quite an impressive monument.

Thus ended our very successful and enjoyable to Rivoli.

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