Let’s pick up from where we left off, right at the entrance of Mussolini’s Bunker in Soratte, a 14 km long nest of tunnels and secret chambers.
This is the view of Soratte as we were arriving. From afar you can appreciate the abandoned military stations
And the actual town of Sant’Oreste, evacuated by the Nazis in 1943 to make it a secret refuge.
Mussolini must have had a typical Roman catacomb design in mind or else a cult structure for its own bunker as the result is a classic hypogeal refuge. It’s chilly and creepy at the same time. The first thing that got my attention were the warning signs all over the place, both in Italian and German
And many more
Notice the warning signs in Italian and then in German. This place, a true piece of Italian engineering, was also exploited by the Germans: after the armistice in September 1943, the German Field Marshal Albert Kesselring settled in Soratte and forced the local inhabitants of Sant’Oreste to flee the area. He and his troops remained “secretly” inside the bunker for about ten months hiding in the many tunnels they found inside. He liked the place enough to continue some construction works and even added a restaurant decorated with fake windows for him and his troops. I believe Mussolini though was the author of the hospital.
The bunker proved to be highly valuable as it served as unbreakable shield against the 12 May 1944 bombing carried out by two Allied B-17 teams departed from Foggia, Puglia, in the southeast of Italy.
At some point the Commander escaped but not before giving one last order: burn and bury the crates and boxes that contained gold stolen from the Banca d’Italia. Such treasure, dear Reader, is either a legend or never found… Fascinating.
As we kept going inside the air became colder and colder.
There were maps here and there
And a beautiful radio station
And the infinite line of tunnels filled with old tracks
The range of tracks we found along the way
Gas masks of unknown date I’m afraid, probably during the Cold War given the look they have