The impressive fortress with the beautiful sounding name Belvedere-Gschwent stands out from the landscape. It also seems frightening. This oppressive feeling becomes even more intense when you walk through its corridors.
Belvedere is one of seven fortresses built by the Austro-Hungarian Empire between the years 1909 and 1912 like a chain in the natural landscape of Lavarone in southern Trentino. They served as a line of defense against the Italian kingdom. Already at that time it seems to have been known that there would be a war – the First World War from 1914 to 1918, which claimed about 17 million victims.
A Magnificent Museum
Today the fortress is a museum. On a tour, visitors quickly realize what it meant to be a war soldier. Black and white photos on the walls tell about the dreary everyday life of the soldiers. And then there are those sounds – bombs being fired from the opposing side. Rooms were only sporadically furnished and windows hermetically sealed. The winters bitterly cold. It was very noisy here during the bombardment and the solidly built walls vibrated from the attacks. As a soldier, one was stuck here in darkness. It felt like being in a mousetrap. Soldiers kept their service here for up to a year. And what “luck” it was! Less than 10 soldiers lost their lives to attacks here. But the darkness, disturbing sounds and vibrations caused cases of suicide.
A Suprising Museum
And then the visitor enters a room where a screen invites them to start playing. Gaming in a war museum? “THE RUDE AWAKENING is an innovative project to lure the younger generation back to the museum. We wanted to do this in an interactive way. Our goal was to confront them with history,” explains Enzo Carbonera, Art Director of the project, which is co-funded by the EU’s MEDIA program, a sub-program of Creative Europe.
A clever idea that he was able to implement together with nine European partners. The spirit of the project is to promote cooperation between European countries to prevent the madness of war from repeating itself.
The Game – The Rude Awakening
Not Only in the Fortress
Since August 2021, the Game can be played in three museums and historical centers that address the theme of armed conflict: Forte Belvedere in Italy, Gornjesavski Muzej in Slovenia, and the Macedonian Center for Photography in the Republic of Northern Macedonia. Another four associations and NGOs dealing with the issues of memory and peace education through cultural promotion activities are also involved: ALDA (France), Memoire pour la vie (France), The World of NGOs (Austria) and the magazine Danube Connects (Germany). And, of course, the municipality of Lavarone, which hosts the historic sites, including Belvedere-Gschwent.
Today it is peaceful around the fortress. Sigmund Freud and the Emperor Franz Josef already appreciated its surroundings with their romantic landscapes for walks. Peace prevails and that is how it should stay. Belvedere or Beautiful View – finally the name of the fortress makes sense.