The Gothic Line (Gotenstellung in German) was the fortified defensive line established by the Field Marshal Albert Kesselring in 1944 as to halt the advance of the allied army towards Northern Italy. The 320-km long defensive line stretched from the area south of La Spezia on the west coast of Italy through the Apennine Mountains to the area between Pesaro and Ravenna on the east coast.
For its construction, the Germans exploited the forced labour of Italian soldiers and prisoners (about 50.000 workers) and of 2.000 soldiers from a Czechoslovakian brigade, coordinated by OT (Organisation Todt), under the direct control of 18.000 German sappers. In August 1944, the fortification works on the Gothic Line were interrupted by the Americans’ first stand. However, featuring 3604 defensive fighting positions, 2375 machine gun nests, 479 cannons, 16.000 sniper hide sites, and more than 95.689 anti-personnel mines, the Line had been built in just ten months, not to forget the 900-km long moat and the 117-km long barbed wire.
Moreover, a hypothetic breach of the Gothic Line would have been hampered by the territory’s morphology, in particular by the impregnable natural barrier represented by the rough and uneven Apennines.
The endless months of war left deep scars in the Apennines. Defensive positions, trenches and refuges once used by the Germans are now part of an equipped trail that, within the Municipal Union of Alto Reno, in the heart of the Tuscan-Emilian Apennines, bears an important witness to the troops’ uphill lifestyle during the last months of war. War echoes in every inch and every town of this territory, as an eternal admonishing memory of the past.
The Gothic Line enhancement project, realized by the Municipality of Lizzano in Belvedere, involves the creation of a tourist-cultural system, which, in addition to the already existing paths, introduces to the exploration of a never before seen part of the Gothic Line, from Lizzano in Belvedere to Marzabotto. This 80 km long stretch covers the most important war events occurred between the autumn of 1944 and the spring of 1945 in this part of the Apennines.
Follow us into this fascinating and meditative journey along the memory paths through the rugged and unspoilt valleys of Dardagna, Belvedere and Setta, and indulge yourself by retracing the Apennines’ history of 1944 and 1945, mirrored everywhere in this enchanting natural environment.
- Art & Culture
- Nature & Landscape