Alessio Franconi “Here they fought!” 5.05-11.06

Here they fought! 1915 – 1918
On the Trails of the First World War

Climbing those arid rocks one has the feeling of looking out of a forgotten world where you only hear the wind along with the lonely squawking of a bird of prey.

Yet, step after step, the soil starts to show indelible scars, abandoned trenches, destroyed bunkers and ripped ridges.

The sorrow that was lived here is still clearly visible, pieces of shoes, bomb splinters, shrapnel shells, cartridges and, here and there, in the silence and white, you can see laying on the ground, between the edelweiss, the bones of some unknown fallen soldiers.

The harshness of the soil is shoking and even in the most remote and inaccessible crests you can see the marks of the battles.

Behind all of those signs there were men that lived a tragic experience, an experience far away from us, inhuman, that cannot be forgotten.

Those young men, on different battlefronts, found themselves fighting one against the other. Those men were our great-grandfathers, Italians, French, Austrians, English, Germans, Slovenians, Hungarians. The memory of their pain can not get lost.

The sorrow that the soldiers and their families had to face, the trauma that the First World War brought, has to serve a warning.

Here proposed places are concrete and real experiences for those who dare to pass there; living history that comes from abstraction of sterile words that we find in the history books.

This photographic exhibition with 54 photos in 30×40/45 cm in black and white, is the result of a two years of work. This exhibition aims to accompany the visitor on those narrow and cold places along a path that starts from Slovenia and ends in Lombardia Region, where one of the worst war ever was fought. A war that forced its soldiers to fight over 3000 metres of altitude.

The exhibition wants to be a way to a better understanding of the price and the consequences of divisions and conflicts. It wants to be a hymn to peace and Europe. The latter was born on the ashes of two world wars with a precise aim: not to repeat! It wants to be a tribute to all the soldiers that fought on front losing love and life.

The exhibition is dedicated to my great-grandfathers, their brothers and uncles. Many of them left and never came back.

Alessio Franconi
Not to be forgotten

Great-grandfather (mother’s side)
Drago Paolo di Giovanni
† 20th September 1917

“We must resign ourselves till the day of happiness arrives and we shall be all together again” these are the words from the last letter sent from the front by my great-grandfather to his wife.
Few weeks later he died fighting along the Isonzo river area leaving his wife and a son.
Now he lays amongst the known but to God in the War Memorial of Oslavia.
Afterwards, on Monte Grappa, died also his uncle deserving the Silver Medal of Honour.

Great-grandfather (father’s side)
Gallelli Giovanni Battista
† 17th September 1916

My Great-grandfather with the mourning band on his arm to remember his brother who just died fighting on Monte San Michele.
A few months later, in Nova Vas, leading his men in a daring assault under the cross fire of enemy’s machine guns, he got mortally wounded.
Nevertheless, he urged his fellow soldiers to go ahead in the battle; he deserved the Silver Medal of Honour. He left his wife and three children.