National Geographic : 1961 Nov
Corridor of Conquest, Quiet Susa Valley Knew Charlemagne, Caesar, and Possibly Hannibal For centuries this Alpine trough, cut by the Dora Ri paria, echoed the thunder of advancing armies. Hannibal, invading the Roman Republic through the western Alps, appears to have used a pass within a few miles of this spot in 218 B.C. He led his foot sol diers, horsemen, and terrify ing battle elephants across the snows in 15 days. Two centuries later, Cae sar's legions passed through the valley on their way to victory in Gaul. Charle magne and his knights marched this route in 773 to rescue Rome from the Lombards. In World War II, Italy mounted an unsuccessful attack against France at Mount Cenis Pass, close by. Today tourists, not troops, stream through the Frejus Tunnel. Susa Valley pro motes peaceful pursuits: farming in summer, skiing in winter. Members of this family cut and stack wheat on a slope above Ulzio. Lan guage and heritage ally them with France, just over the mountains. honey-colored mountain horses of Avelengo snorted and reared and struck fire from the cobbles with their hoofs. The people jammed the square. A man stepped out before us in the torchlight, twirl ing a great crimson banner around his head until it was a sheet of flame bright as the torches themselves. Liveried pages, young 636 men and women, formed lines and escorted us into the Princes' Castle. Torchbearers stood at every corner and landing of the narrow stone stairway to the upper floors. More torches, candelabra, and a leaping cooking fire lighted the banquet hall hung with medieval paintings and carved Habsburg coats of arms.