Bunker Soratte


Useful Information

Location: Sant'Oreste
(42.2366, 12.5082)
Open: All year one Sunday per month.
Also on special events and certain Holidays.
Dates published on website, reservation recommended.
[2021]
Fee: Adults EUR 10, Children (6-17) EUR 5, Children (0-5) free, Seniors (75+) EUR 5, Students EUR 5, Disabled free.
Photo tour: Adults EUR 20.
[2021]
Classification: SubterraneaWorld War II Bunkers SubterraneaSecret Bunkers
Light: bring torch
Dimension: L=4 km, T=12 °C.
Guided tours: L=1 km, D=1.5-2 h, Max=50
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: no/partly
Bibliography: Gregory Paolucci, Giuseppe Lo Gaglio (2013): Il bunker del Soratte - Una montagna di storia, 2nd edition, December 2014, ISBN: 978-88-909450-0-7.
Address: Bunker Soratte, Cell: +39-380-3838102. E-mail:
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.

History

1937 begin of construction.
SEP-1943 refuge for the Supreme Command of the South.
12-MAY-1944 bunker bombed, Germans flee.
1967 converted into an atomic bunker.
1972 works stopped only partly completed, bunker abandoned.

Description

The Bunker Soratte is located inside Monte Soratte (691 m asl), hence the name. The World War II bunker was built in 1937 at the behest of il duce Benito Mussolini. This fact, and the secrecy around the the bunker was the reason for numerous rumours and legends about its use and content.

The locals thought it was the hoard of Mussolini's gold, but the exact location was unknown. Treasure hunters were searching for the gold after the war. Another legend tells that the the profile of the mountain looks like the profile of Mussolini, because it was sculpted with explosives and pickaxes. The profile can actually be seen from the A1 motorway coming from the north, but that it actually resembles Mussolini or if it was made artificially is unlikely.

Actually the bunker was constructed as an air-raid shelter for the leaders of the Italian Army. The official legend was, that it was an arms factory, in this case those of the fabbrica di armi Breda (Breda arms factory), who actually installed an underground factory. On 08-SEP-1943 General Eisenhower, commander of the allied troops, and General Pietro Badoglio, the head of the Italian government, announced that Italy had asked for an armistice. On 10-SEP-1943 Rome was declared an "open city". But the armistice was already expected and German troups had been stationed in strategical position all over Italy. German forces immediately attacked Italian forces by executing Fall Achse (Operation Axis). The Germans disarmed over a million Italian troops within a matter of days, annihilating the Italian military and state. On 11-SEP-1943 Feldmarschall Albert Kesselring issued the historic ordinance with which he declared the Italian territory subject to himself. It was the begin of the German occupation of Italy. He confiscated the completed bunker and it became the refuge of the Oberkommando Süd (Supreme Command of the South). The soldiers requisitioned homes and some public buildings. After the bombing of 12-MAY-1944 they fled in the night destroying anything on their way and the bunker was abandoned for many years.

Another legend around the bunker originates from the German occupation. On 01-APR-1944 during the night 18 German soldiers transported 79 wooden crates to Sorattes Bunker which were stored in one of the side tunnels. The entrance of the tunnel was destroyed with dynamite and then concealed with concrete. Then the men were executed. Only one survived, named Willy Vogt, who later told the story. He returned to Hamburg and was murdered there. One theory was that they contained gold, another theory suggests the crates contained secret documents. However, the crates were never found.

The gold theory about the crates is called l’oro di Kappler (the gold of Kappler) and argues the crates contained gold, stolen from the Bank of Italy. Herbert Kappler, an ex-Nazi officer sentenced to life imprisonment as "the executioner of the Fosse Ardeatine", is hospitalized on 10-APR-1977. His wife is allowed to visit him in hospital. During this visit, he gives her a strange note referring to "the gold seizure operation of the Bank of Italy" to be sent to "someone" he knew. However, the real facts are slightly different, Kappler was in the hospital because he had cancer and for this reason he was under deferment of arrest. He simply left the hospital because there was no security, went to his home town Soltau where he died a few months later. The whole story was strange, both German and Italian officials saw now sense in the imprisonment of an old and deadly sick man, but the flight triggered a wave of protest in Italy and strained German-Italian relations.
Actually there was a lot of gold in Italian bank vaults which was transported to Germany in 1944. This gold was the property of the Italian state but was burdened with old debts to the Germans who, given the progress of the conflict, reclaimed it. This led to the Fasano Agreement, signed at Villa Bosetti on the shores of Lake Garda on 05-FEB-1944, by which Italy made its gold reserves available to Germany. In accordance with this agreement, between 29-FEB-1944 and 21-OCT-1944, various gold transports by train to Germany took place. The idea is now that one of those transports was redirected to Soratte. Again there is no actual connection between Kappler, the gold and Soratte.

In 1967 the bunker was transformed into an atomic bunker, the refuge for the President of the Republic and for the whole government during World War III. The refurbishment took years and was still not completed ehen the work was stopped and the bunker was abandoned in 1972 for unknwon reasons. The location was still restricted area and owned by the state. It was reclaimed after the Cold War by the Municipality of Sant'Oreste and a non-profit organisation named Associazione Culturale Bunker Soratte (Cultural Association Bunker Soratte) restored the site. They offer regular tours into the bunker. The bunker is open on certain Holidays, on one Sunday per month and for certain events during the year. The exact dates are published on the website of the association and we recommend to pre-book a ticket by email or phone. There are also special tours for photographers which last a full afternoon. They start with a regular tour which is intended to get an overview and identify interesting spots. Then the participants are free to take pictures. In the evening there is a possibility to share the best pictures and there is a contest for the best pictures.

Mount Soratte is a solitude limestone hill in the Tiber valley north of Rome. It offers walking trails and one is called Gallerie del Monte Soratte (Monte Soratte Galleries). Between the two entrances of the bunker there are abandoned buildings which once housed the workforce for the construction of the bunker, also offices and housing for the staff. Along the road a collection of military vehicles are on display, including a tank. The many workers who lived here strongly influenced the economy of the town of Sant'Oreste. The workers and technicians needed accommodation, food and consumer goods. Private homes and converted barns were rented. And the backfill from the excavation was used to construct roads.