Linea Cadorna is the official name with which today is identified the system of fortifications built along the Italian-Swiss border between the summer of 1915 and the spring of 1918, during the First World War, when it was feared that, penetrating from the Alpine passes of the central Swiss Alps, the Austro-German troops could soon reach and occupy the industrial and economic nerve centers of our country.
The construction of this line, called "Line of defense at the northern border", was the compendium of almost fifty years of studies, planning, surveys, geomorphological investigations, strategic planning, technological research.
With the weakening of the alliance relations with Germany and Austria and the explication of the no longer so much hidden Germanophile sympathies of the superior Swiss military apparatuses, the Italian government found itself considering the possibility of a probable enemy infiltration across the border with the Switzerland.
Starting from 1911, the damming of Gravellona Toce (fortifications on Monte Orfano to defend access from the Val d'Ossola and Lake Maggiore) was built, as well as the staging of artillery on the Piambello, Scerré, Martica, Campo dei Fiori, Gino and Sighignola mountains. .
The outbreak of the war, July 23, 1914, and subsequent events including the invasion of neutral Belgium and the changes in alliances between the various European powers, accentuated the doubts on the will of the Swiss government to enforce the neutrality of its territory.
With the entry into war of Italy against Austria on May 24, 1915 and with the proposed declaration of belligerency against Germany, General Luigi Cadorna, Chief of Staff of the Army since July 1914, considering the fear of a possible Austro-German invasion, ordered to start the defensive works on the Swiss border, making the already prepared defense project enforceable.
On January 17, 1917, while the defensive work continued, the Advanced North Frontier Occupation Command (OAFN) was established to oversee ongoing work, military forces already in place and organize a first form of resistance. the OAFN Command was entrusted, until May 1918, to the general Ettore Mambretti. In the leave report Mambretti summarizes the consistency of the defensive works carried out and the costs incurred for their realization: "Defensive settlement - It takes place from the Val d'Ossola to the Orobic Crest, across the hills south of Lake Lugano and with elements in Val d'Aosta. It includes 72 km of entrenchments, 88 stacks for batteries, of which 11 in the cave, 25,000 square meters of barracks, 296 km of trucks and 398 of carrarecce or muletracks. The total expenditure incurred, taking into account the 15-20000 workers that were used on average, can be estimated at around 104 million. "With the end of the First World War the fortifications were abandoned.
In subsequent years, part of these structures were reused for military exercises and all those included, in the thirties, in the project of the Vallo Alpino, an immense defensive line that should have made the 1851 kilometers of Italian border inviolable, but which, in reality, it never came to fruition.
Also in the second world war the Cadorna Line was never affected by the war operations, excluding two sections, the Monte San Martino (VA) and the Ossola (VB) and that for a short time, 19 September-15 November 1943 for the San Martino and 12- 21 October 1944 for the Ossola, they were used as partisan bases of the "Cinque Giornate" Group under the orders of the ten. with the. Carlo Croce and the partisans of the "Ossola Republic".
On April 4, 1949, the Italian fortifications, not dismantled by the Peace Treaty of February 1947, became part of the Atlantic Pact established to face the Soviet bloc, a plan that will diminish its importance with the fall of the Berlin Wall, 9 November 1989, date with which the history of Italian fortification can be considered completed. For more information: