In cooperation with its partners, the Park of Military History organised a cross-border academic excursion for journalists, tourism workers, and museum and local guides on Monday and Tuesday, 16 and 17 May, with the intention of promoting military tourism and tourism services in an area linked with the heritage of the First World War or the Isonzo Front.
The academic excursion was one of the closing activities of the strategic project “WALKofPEACE – The Sustainable Development of First World War Heritage Between the Alps and the Adriatic”, financed as part of the Interreg V-A Italy-Slovenia 2014-2020 Cooperation Programme. The cross-border project that runs between November 2018 and June 2022 and is led by the Soča Valley Development Centre brought together ten Slovenian and Italian project partners from areas with a strong presence of First World War remains with the goal of preserving, promoting and developing First World War heritage between the Alps and the Adriatic. Apart from the Soča Valley Development Centre, project partners on the Slovenian side also included the Park of Military History, the Walk of Peace Foundation in the Soča Valley, the Research Centre of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts, and the Municipality of Nova Gorica, while project partners on the Italian side included Regione del Veneto, VEGAL – Agenzia di sviluppo del Veneto Orientale, PromoTurismoFVG, ERPAC – Ente Regionale per il Patrimonio Culturale del Friuli Venezia Giulia and Comune di Ragogna.
Participants began the academic excursion at the Park of Military History where the introduction to their two-day trip along the path of military heritage included the Park’s newest permanent exhibition “Fighting Behind the Trenches” which highlights the subject matter of military transport of the Austro-Hungarian Army on the Isonzo Front from setting up new transport systems on roads, cableways and railways to the logistics of transporting military units and enormous amounts of weapons, ammunition and other material. The exhibition opened in April of this year based on the extensive research on transport during the First World War and represents the main part of the activities carried out by the Park of Military History as part of the “WALKofPEACE” project.
The academic tour continued with a stop in the Park of Peace on Mt. Sabotin where the seemingly calm and idyllic natural surroundings are intersected by numerous trenches and caverns from the First World War, serving as a cruel reminder of the suffering of those who had fought and died in them. Day 1 of the programme concluded with the visit to the ossuary above Kobarid, which is the only ossuary of fallen Italian soldiers in Slovenia.
The following day, participants first visited the “Štoln” tunnel which connects Log pod Mangartom with the Italian town of Cave del Predil. During the war, the tunnel represented an innovative solution of the Austro-Hungarian Army to supply the battlefield in the Upper Soča Valley during the time when access across the Predil Pass was hindered by Italian shelling. The excursion continued on the Italian side of the border where participants visited the mine where the “Štoln” tunnel terminates and the local museum visitor centre Polo museale di Cave del Predil. As the last stop before returning to the Park of Military History, the programme in Italy concluded with the museum of the First World War on Mt. San Michele – Museo del monte San Michele.
As the academic excursion came to an end, participants were left with positive impressions and agreed that implementing such programmes for visitors would greatly contribute to the preservation of First World War heritage and the promotion of military tourism in the area.