The Italian War Museum was founded in 1921 in remembrance of the First World War and in it are preserved arms and documents relating to wars from the 16th to the 20th centuries. As well as its permanent collection, it organises temporary exhibitions, and publishes books and articles dealing with WWI and other 20th Century conflicts.
The Museum was conceived by a group of citizens of Rovereto who wished to remember the recently concluded conflict after which Trentino was united to the Kingdom of Italy. King Victor Emanuel III opened the Museum on 12th October 1921.
During the First World War Rovereto had been evacuated, bombed and had suffered large losses.
The city became a symbol of the "war of liberation" and the Museum a place of remembrance to which citizens, ex-combatants and institutions sent a large quantity of documents and memorabilia.
In the following decades, the Museum extended its interests to other conflicts: from the modern era to colonial wars and to the Second World War.
Run by an Association, the Museum exhibits arms and uniforms, photographs and paintings, documents and personal effects. It promotes temporary exhibitions, research, the publication of works of historical interest and participates in film productions.
The Museum is situated in the 15th Century Castle of Rovereto and is reached by via Castelbarco. At the end of a long steep passage you enter the courtyard in which there is a very deep well. From the crenellated terraces there is a splendid view of the city and of the valley beyond. The exhibition itself is on the various levels of the Castle, and the section "First World War Artillery" in a Second World War air raid shelter, dug at the foot of the Castle is accessible from Piazza Podestà. A full visit should take approx 2 hours.
Rovereto castle in its present pentagonal form, was built during the Venetian occupation of the city (1416-1509)on a previous stronghold erected by the Castelbarco family, in the 14th century. Still extant is the corner stone of one of the original towers in one of the internal rooms of the Malipiero Tower.
The fortress is one of the most distinguished pieces of military architecture of this transitional period, with a siege well, thick boundary walls and bastions furnished with dozens of embrasures. Giacomo Coltrino and Bartolomeo d'Alviano, military architects from Venice were two notable military architects from the Venetian Republic who contributed to its construction.
In 1487, during the war between Venice and the Archduke of Austria, Sigismund, Count of the Tyrol, the castle was besieged for 37 days and capitulated only after suffering severe damage at the hands of the Austrian artillery. The fortress was rapidly re-conquered and repaired by the Republic in whose possession it firmly remained till 1509 .
The castle's architectural form reflects its military function with its three corner towers, the small bastion and spur from which the artillery could protect the fortress walls from all directions. During Venetian dominion, a Lord of the castle was resident, while matters of justice and administration were carried out by a captain in the Pretorian Palace at the foot of the castle.
The castle was ceded to the Hapsburgs in 1509 and thereafter lost its importance as a military stronghold. The building underwent serious alterations and was victim of several fires, the last being in 1797..The seventeenth century saw the castle being used as a poor house, a penal colony and between 1859 and 1918 it was headquarters to two companies of the Third Kaiserjaeger Regiment.
The city of Rovereto was evacuated in May 1915, at the outbreak of the First World War in Italy and both the city and the castle, left in Austrian hands, were heavily bombed by the Italian artillery.
In the 1920's the castle underwent restoration to house the Museo Storico Italiano della Guerra.
Visit the Official Web Site of Italian War Museum http://www.museodellaguerra.it