Mount Tenda, between History and Nature




May 14th, 1911, a great tree festival was held in Soave. With this big event, the authorities, the nobility and common people celebrated the reforestation of Mount Tenda.  Today we can appreciate their dream:  “Grow joyfully and fast, oh newborn forests of Mount Tenda!”  This is how Pro Montibus magazine spoke of the tree festival.  At the beginning of the 1900s, Mount Tenda was bare, rocky and covered in dry grasslands, partially reclaimed by bushes.  The deforestation had most likely begun a few centuries before, primarily to gain grazing land for sheep and goats, as well as to provide added security for the fortifications.  What tree cover there was, was likely composed of downy oak, manna ash and hop-hornbeam, mixed with bushes such as smoketree, lantana, cornel and hawthorn.  Certainly these were woods that were not very dense or vigorous, mixed with dry grassland in the areas with poor or rocky soil.
Starting at the end of the 1800s, there was a strong realization nationwide of the necessity of reforesting the mountain areas, to protect the hydrology of the land.  The first large reforestation projects to the east of Verona started at the same time, with Giazza Forest also being inaugurated in 1911, like Mount Tenda’s trees.
Today, among the precious vineyards, it is possible to appreciate and enjoy what was just a dream 100 years ago for Soave’s citizens.  Mount Tenda was also a symbolic place for Soavans for reasons tied to the “foreign” occupations: ”…that mountain that the fury of the foreigner had so often covered with bodies and blood…” (from L’Arena newspaper, May 15th, 1911).  In the Pro Montibus article there are many references to the suffering caused by foreign occupation, or paragraphs that pay homage to the motherland.  The most profound one is that of Stefano Zenari and his son Pietro.  April 7th, 1848, Sefano Zenari, along with a group of his neighbors, was peacefully observing the movements of Croatian troops (which were part of the Austrian contingent) near Villanova, when some soldiers separated themselves from the battalion and moved toward those “peaceful and innocuous spectators”.  Stefano Zenari was not able to flee and when they reached him, he was brutally killed by a shot from point blank range.  Soavans were only able to commemorate the victim after “national freedom” was achieved.  A stone plaque was placed on the garden wall of Casa Scrinzi, at the beginning of the medieval road that leads to the castle (see photo gallery).  Stefano’s son, Don Pietro Zenari, described as a priest who was a true Christian and a true Italian, on April 7, 1967, concluded his speech about his father by addressing the Austrians like this: “stay healthy, but far away”.

Source: Pro Montibus article from 1911