Since its inauguration in 1921, the Italian War History Museum has been one of the main Italian museums dedicated to the First World War.
The Museum is situated in the 15th Century Castle of Rovereto. A full visit should take approx 2 hours.
The exhibition itinerary, recently renewed, is dedicated to methods of combat and the soldiers’ equipment, but also to the extraordinary transformation that these underwent between the nineteenth century and the First World War. The exhibition displays a wide collection of objects, photographs, materials relating to trench warfare and propaganda, in addition to the evidence of soldiers and civilians’ experiences.
The museum, situated in the Castle of Rovereto, opened to the public some areas built by the Venetians in the late fifteenth and early sixteenth century. A new itinerary allows visitors to discover towers and tunnels, the terreplein and the dozens of embrasures found in the walls.
Run by an Association, the Museum promotes temporary exhibitions, research, the publication of works of historical interest dealing with WWI and other 20th Century conflicts.
NOTICE TO VISITORS
The castle is currently undergoing restoration work and the museum itinerary may be subject to alteration. We apologise for any inconvenience caused.
1 | Soldiers and weapons in the 19th Century
A great collection of items illustrating the transformation of war and weapons from Napoleon to the First World War: uniforms of the 19th century, flint guns, the first breech-loading weapons, the machine-gun of the American War of Secession, the Austro-Hungarian artillery of the first fortresses built in Trentino; the torpedo produced at the end of the 19th century by the Whithehead Company in Fiume.
2 | The Italian “Risorgimento”
The nineteenth century was also the period of the Italian “Risorgimento” whose history is told thanks to a donation of ceramics, paintings and objects celebrating military episodes and characters such as Mazzini and Cavour, Vittorio Emanuele II, Umberto I and Queen Margherita, Napoleon III and Franz Joseph I.
3 | The Great War
The room introduces visitors to the Great War showing its development and the events concerning Trentino and its inhabitants. This room exhibits a rare Nieuport 10 airplane completely restored. Vintage film images – reworked by directors Gianikian Yervant and Angela Ricci Lucchi – shows the aviator’s look that for the first time experienced the vision of the earth from the sky.
4 | 1918
1918 was for the Italian Army the year of reorganization after the terrible defeat at Caporetto in October 1917. It was also the year of general civil mobilization, of cultural battles to raise military morale, of massive industrial effort, of allied victory and the collapse of the central Empires. In the first, are described the events of the year, the armies in the field and their light weaponry.
5 | Exhibition | The Soldier’s Skin. Uniforms, armour, helmets and gas masks from the First World War to the year 2000
In the conflicts of the twentieth century, soldiers had to face the enormous destructive potential of arms with very few defences. This exhibition examines the effectiveness and limits of their protective equipment, with attention to the transformation of weapons and of war itself, without forgetting the most defenceless subject: the civilian population. There is a wide range of exhibits on display: armour, helmets, shields, gas masks, camouflage uniforms and protection against nuclear, bacteriological and chemical threats.
6 | Tunnels, Terreplein and the Marino Tower
In the Marino tower the collection of modern-age weapons (XVI-XVIII centuries) is displayed: a vast collection of armour, cold weapons and firearms, and weapons used in duelling and hunting. In the tower is also to be seen the blacksmith’s workshop.
7 | The Malipiero Tower
In the Malipiero tower, weapons and tools from prehistory to the Middle Ages are displayed. The Malipiero tower host a series of photography exhibitions offering an insight into how the Great War shaped the land: a display of historical images from the Museum’s photo archives.
7 | Life in the trenches and in the prisoner camps
The room is dedicated to the Italian prisoners of war and their tragic destiny seen through the eyes of the artist Pietro Morando; gas masks, anti-personnel traps, wire cutters and various trench articles also recall the brutal life of the soldier.
The “parallel war”, fought through both civil and military propaganda, is the theme of the third room. A vast assortment of printed material – leaflets, newspapers, postcards and flyers – documents the great propaganda effort born to neutralise the pacifist movement that had begun in the nation and within the army itself and the propaganda attempts to undermine the morale of the enemy troops.
8 | Life in the Trenches
This room is dedicated to the story of the soldiers at the front and displays everyday objects, uniforms and personal equipment. The topic of health care is addressed with a display of surgical materials and a rare example of a stretcher for transporting the injured. Through the works of the painter Pietro Morando the tragic fate of prisoners is told. Italian and Austro-Hungarian materials and uniforms help us to understand what the “white war” was, which was fought in the mountains of Trentino.
8 | Artillery of the Great War
From May to October
Dozens of examples of First World War artillery pieces from Italy, the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Germany and England are on display in the air raid shelter dug at the foot of the Castle during the Second World War: howitzers, mortars and canons. This section, open in spring and summer, is accessible from Piazza Podestà; An Austro-Hungarian Skoda 30.5 mortar stands in Piazza Podestà.