Sunday, March 18, 2012

Forte di Exilles - Val di Susa, Italy


Forte di Exilles
When the winter is getting to you and you don't feel like skiing because it's too bitterly cold or maybe you just don't fancy jostling around in the crowds, perhaps it's time to check out what's on offer in the sight seeing department. We did just that a couple of weeks back. We were invited to visit the Exilles Fortress in Val di Susa, with a small group of educators and promoters of tourism from our area.  It really was a great day out. The weather was on the bitter side and over cast and just not all that brilliant of a day, but going to visit a site that has escaped me to visit in the years I have been here seemed like a good idea. I'm so glad we did. As we headed over from our parallel valley of the Chisone we headed around and up the Susa valley to the foreboding Exilles fortress. We have driven by it on numerous occassions, and now I am glad we finally stopped in and had a look round. What better to do on a somewhat dreary day?
Elevator up from the parking area to the fortress
 Calvary Courtyard of Exilles Fortress

The history of the Fortress is long and first dates back to 1155 when there was only a small portion of all that came later. The official website lays out the history and is quite a fascinating read. You can access it here, Forte di Exilles
There also is a guide on the web site, of the different routes and artfully presented depictions of the various periods down through the centuries. I was particularly struck by the thoughtful approach to a subject matter that can be rather grim and colorless.  The displays were a fine misture and wide range of multi media source. 

You'll find displays of military uniforms and stone sculptures of soldiers and scaled models of the various stages the fortress has acquired over the years. The window views are enticing and serve to remind you, how many a soldier, had, most likely, looked out of these same windows with incredible longing, no doubt.
Lost in the Fog

I found the "Area of Memory" in the The Royal Battery section to be rather moving with sculptures and passages from a letter to his family about the hardships of the soldier's life in the mountains. Winter must have been brutal at times, cold, misty and lonely. You really can get a sense and almost feel the harsh reality of life here in the silence of these thick cold walls..
Part of the Royal Battery
We wandered on through the various passages and displays and then finished off the visit with a much more contemporary exposition of Torino's 2006 Winter Olympic Games memories.  It was a pleasant surprise to find that Exilles has given a home to the 2006 Winter Olympic memorabilia. It is an interesting display for a memorable event which, we enjoyed seeing the events displayed through photos and actual memorabilia. Nicely done also.
2006 Olympic torch and prototypes
The games on display
The fortress museum has much to see, but for me the breathtaking views of the Susa valley were every bit as worthy as the displays inside.  Make sure you if you find yourself in this part of the world, that you take the time to visit the Forte di Exilles.
View up the Susa valley, towards France from under the roof of the fortress
Post a Comment
Bookmark and Share