An interesting thing about Europe is this feeling that borders are not that straight forward. Political, cultural and geographical borders can often be quite separate. You drive near the Swiss border, South East of Lyon in France and it has a Swiss feel. We had the best Gnocchi in Nice, and with Monte Carlo it all felt a little Italian. This phenomenon was really driven home to us when we were in Lake Ledro – which is the Trentino Alto-Adige region. The most complicated history of an area so far.
As we walked around we noticed that the houses were very Austrian looking, everyone we spoke to, spoke beautiful German, and we guessed perhaps it was the tourist industry that encouraged that. So I checked with the lady at the bakery on the campsite. ‘This was Austria! My Grandmother is Austrian.’ She went on to explain that during the first world war, the Italian Austrian line of fighting was directly through the village of Ledro. (Supposedly, the joke is, the Italian Mountain Army are the only Italian division who know how to fight). The houses are very Austrian looking and the food has a mixed Austrian Italian feel.
The population of the village were relocated to Bohemia. When the war was over, the village people returned to find two things. Their village had been destroyed and they were now told that they were Italians. How extraordinary. Come back to your village and it is in a different country and you are expected to adjust.
The Trentino Alde-Adige region has a complicated history and it is now agreed informally that both Italy and Austria have some responsibility for it – but for goodness sake, don’t use this entry to help with your kids history homework…
The mountains are still dotted with outposts, remnants of the war. It is said that the reason that the Italians won on this front is because their mountain army set up a rope and pulley system to get the soldiers up the mountain. This meant they were not exhausted from climbing the mountain, as the Austrians would have been, when the fighting started. It is often the small ingenious things that change the course of history.