Tuesday, 25 January 2011


Bonaparte's victory at Caldiero on 12 November 1796 prevented the Austrians taking Verona and led directly to the battle of Arcola three days later. We spent less time exploring the battlefield than I had expected, as there is not a lot to see now. We did drive around the area, and found the main locations, but could find little that had a feel of the period or battle about it.

It may be that we were not as well prepared as we usually are. We had read about the battle in preparation for our visit, and we had a couple of good battle maps of the area. But we were unable to actually find anything of relevance to the battle, other than this church in the small village of Belfiore. This village changed hands many times during the three day battle of Arcola. Massena repeatedly took this town from the Austrians to secure the left flank of Bonaparte’s attack on Arcola.

The record of our visit can be found at


Wednesday, 19 January 2011


We were fortunate to have lovely weather for our visit to Italy. It was the first two weeks in September 2000, and the weather was warm but not too hot. Ideal for walking and exploring battlefields.

So a we have many happy memories of the various battlefields, but one of our favourite was Rivoli. The area is lovely, and the battlefield easy to explore - mostly. However we did have problems finding two locations, and were helped by friendly locals in both cases.

The first was the Trombalore Heights, just outside Rivoli. We could see them as we left Rivoli, but could not find a road or track which would take us directly to them. We returned to the musuem in Rivoli to ask for directions, and the curator immediately locked up and took us there himself.

The second was a monument to the battle which we knew was in a field near the village of Ceradino. We had a photograph from an old copy of First Empire, but no directions to the field. We parked in the middle of the village, and looked for friendly looking locals to whom we showed our photograph. We spoke not a word of Italian, and none of the locals we asked spoke a word of English. But one young chap indicated that we should follow him on his motorcycle. He took us on a confusing route on even smaller tracks through cultivated fields past "Private" signs. Eventually we came to the impressive monument which was in need of some care and attention and surrounded by a tangle of overgrown weeds. But we were delighted to find it, and so grateful to the local lad who took the trouble to take a couple of strangers there.

Its always the little things that you remember about any holiday, and one spent walking battlefields is no different.

You can read about our visit here


Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Monte Baldo

The town of Rivoli is situated at the southern end of Monte Baldo, just to the west of Lake Garda. In January 1797 general Alvinczy marched his army south through Monte Baldo to attack Bonaparte.

Just north of Rivoli is the small village of La Corona (picture above). It was here that the French attempted to halt the Austrian advance. Their failure led to the close fought battle of Rivoli.

We spend a day exploring Monte Baldo, and in particular La Corona. You can read about it here


Tuesday, 4 January 2011


This weeks blog entry is one of the longest of all the battlefield blogs. There are 17 photographs to cover our visit to Castiglione. In fact I could have used more, but I felt that the blog is long enough as it is. I personally find it difficult to concentrate on long blogs, and am sure many of you will feel the same.

Most visitors to this famous battlefield will go straight to Solfernio and climb the La Rocca tower to view the battlefield. The village is famous as the place where the International Red Cross was formed, and consequently it is easy to find. On 5 August 1796 it also formed the right flank of the Austrian army. And the top of La Rocca provides an excellent platform to view the battlefield from the Austrian side.

It is much less easy to find a suitable spot to view the battlefield from the French side. This is where "Castiglione 1796" by Bernhard Voykowitsch came in so useful. This was my guide to the battlefield. It contains a mass of information about all operations in the area throughout 1796, with many photographs and excellent battle maps.

The book advises against visiting Castiglione itself, which is now so overdeveloped that it is not suitable to explore the battle. Instead it recommends a hill overlooking the small village of Girole. The village, which formed the left of the French position, was difficult enough to find. I would never have found the road leading to the hill without the book. But it was well worth the effort, because this hill provides the same sort of excellent views of the Austrian positions as La Rocca does of the French.

The blog can be found at