The Cortina d’Ampezzo gunpowder magazine
Between 1859 and 1862 Ampezzo town council had a gunpowder magazine built in the Revis area. The battles of 1848 in Cadore and the first war of independence declared by the Kingdom of Sardinia against the Austrian Empire were still very much alive in the memories of the Ampezzo people.
The objective of the second war of independence of 1855 was the annexing of Lombardy and Veneto though only Lombardy was actually annexed.
For first line defence of the southern border of the Habsburg Empire (of which Cortina was part) a small gunpowder magazine could well have been useful and it was made even more necessary by the 1794 demolition of historic Botestagno castle.
The name of the architect who designed the gunpowder magazine is not known but Giuseppe Ghedina de Tomàs and Silvestro Franceschi Tete Dane were active in those years in Ampezzo.
Externally it is around four metres high and resembles the towers of Zanna castle in Majon to some extent.
It was built on a great rocky outcrop perched above the Boite stream at the confluence of the Roncato and Rutorgo streams. Just a little further on the Bigontina joins it.
But this imposing outcrop obliges the Boite, a tributary of the Piave, into a bend which wears away the landslide which is slowly but continually coming down from the slopes of Mt. Tofana.
In 1857 a target practice house (Casa del bersaglio) was built for the Schützen of the Ampezzo company on the meadows along Via Difesa. Target practice took place every Sunday in summer.
The Cortina gunpowder magazine held the gunpowder and explosives used to ‘sbarà i saš’, i.e. break up the blocks of rock to be used in building houses and tunnels, to make the town more attractive and comfortable.
A front cover of a 1915 edition of the “Domenica del Corriere” with illustrations by Achille Beltrame showed Italy “The Cortina d’Ampezzo gunpowder magazine conquered by Italian bravery”.
There were two armed soldiers on guard in front of the building but they never fired a shot.
The now restored gunpowder magazine can be accessed from the town centre, on the far side of the tennis courts, taking the road to Campo (Via del Convento) downhill for around 50 metres to a junction where you turn right. The historic gunpowder magazine is immediately behind the second of the two buildings you come to.
As a strategic military building it is defended and inaccessible on three sides and not shown on the town’s maps.