Monte Grappa, Italy

Monte Grappa (1,775 m) is a mountain of the Venetian Prealps in Veneto, Region Italy. It lies between the Venetian plain to the south and the central alpine areas to the North. To the west, it is seperated from the Asiago Altopiano by the Brenta river,  to the east it is seperated from the Cesen-Visentin Mountains by the Piave river. To the north is Corlo lake and Feltre valley. In the past, the mountain was called Alpe Madre (Mother Alp), and is currently divided into three provinces: Vicenza Province to the west, Treviso Province to the south and Belluno Province to the northeast. It is the highest peak of a small massif, which is characterized by many other peaks such as Col Moschin, Colle della Berretta, Monte Asolone, Monte Pertica, Prassolan, Monti Solaroli, Fontana Secca, Monte Peurna, Monte Santo, Monte Tomatico, Meatte, Monte Pallon and Monte Tomba.

Monte Grappa was created by the collision between the African and European lithospheric plates. During the geological eras, these sediments have been interested by a cement fixation and then they were lifted up by these pressures that caused the Alpine mountain range to rise. Nowadays, the main types of rocks found on the Grappa are:

  • The Grey Limestones: the oldest formation, comprising the biggest part of the massif: it is found on the cliff faces. Its calcareous composition has caused such an expanded karst phenomenon that brought to light a lot of caves full of stalactites, deep wells and wonderful galleries;
  • the Rosso Ammonitico: with its calcareous origin, it forms the amazing “cities of stone” situated in the Poise and Meda Valleys;
  • the Biancone: we can find this calcareous rock on Cima Grappa, on and near the villages of Borso and Semonzo;
  • the Red Flake: a clayish limestone that is the raw material used to make cement.
  • Furthermore, during the centuries, different external atmospheric agents have modified the morphological structure of the Grappa massif:
  • the glaciers, which are responsible of the Brenta and Piave rivers' high valleys and of the secondary valleys moulding. They also caused the formation of the glacial cirques near Cima Grappa;
  • the creeks, which exist only in case of heavy and persistent rain. Because of the ample inclines of the beds, their erosive action has certainly been efficient and it can condone the asperities of the valley faces.
  • The karst phenomenon, that is really expanded in the Massif. In fact, there are a lot of caves and wells, sinkholes and swallow holes, the absence of streams and sources at high altitudes, and the "cities of stone".

As the mountain is located at the edge if the Venetian plains, its climate is often influenced by extremely variable weather conditions, with precipitation likely throughout the year. A theater of war during WW1 and to a lesser extent, during WW2, the mountain is known to most Italians for the Military shrine on the summit, containing a Museum on the Great War (‘Museo della Grande Guerra’). Also well known is the sanctuary known as ‘Sacello della Madonna Ausiliatrice’, inaugurated in 1901 (also known as ‘Madonna del Grappa’). During WW1, after the Italian defeat at Caporetto in 1917, the summit became the main point of the Italian defensive system; the Austrians tried on several occasions to conquer it, in order to gain access to the Venetian plains. During the conflict they dug several tunnels, trenches and other fixed poistions in the rock. Along the Mt Grappa summit from Monte Valderoa to the Colle Caprile the Italian defenses could dominate and control all activities along the front from as far as the distant Montello.

During WW2 the mountain saw the activity of several partisan formations operating in the area, and various dramatic events ensued, both on the mountain itself and in the nearby town of Bassano del Grappa. The ‘Sacrario militare del Monte Grappa’ (military shrine) is located on the summit, and was inaugurated in 1935; it is a landmark visible for several miles. In a nearby cave, is located the bronze monument to the partisan ("Monumento al Partigiano"), created by the famous sculptor from Falcade, Augusto Murer.






Monte Grappa,, Prealps,

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