Construction began on this imposing structure in 1834. It was built by Charles Albert of Savoy to block the possible arrival of French troops from the Colle della Maddalena mountain pass. The project destroyed a large part of the old village, lasted 11 years and saw the employment of around 4,000 men. Despite its high cost, both in terms of money and other sacrifices, it was never actually armed. Its only confirmed use was as a prison for hundreds of Garibaldians taken prisoner during the Battle of Aspromonte.
As the crow files, the fort is about 1,200 metres long. The route covers around 10 km, over three levels of communication trenches, and is divided into three fronts, the upper, attack and lower.
The upper and lower fronts are primarily formed by the casemates. The attack front, with a fortified entrance, was the only road that opened onto the village. Known as the Porta Francia, it also served as the main route to the Colle della Maddalena. The fort's decline began in the early 20th century, when it became first a barracks and then an artillery depot before being plundered and partially destroyed following the Second World War. Today it has been restored and houses the permanent exhibitions "Montagna in Movimento" (mountains in movement) and "Messaggeri Alati" (winged messengers).
Guided tours around the fort take visitors to the attack front along with the upper front and blockhouse, walking mainly through the fort's trenches. The tour takes an hour, and departs at set times.
Visitors are free to explore the multimedia experience Montagna in movimento (mountains in movement) in the upper front of the fort in their own time.
Bookshop and conference room (100 seats).
In the area: Valle Stura towns, sanctuary of Sant'Anna di Vinadio, Palazzo Borelli in Demonte
Typical products: Stura Valley toma cheese, Sambucano lamb, oula al fourn (soup baked in the oven in a terracotta pot), lentil soup (lentils used to be grown in the open spaces of the upper valley), crouzet (a kind of pasta similar to orecchiette)
Sport: mountaineering, canoeing, horseriding, mountain biking, skating, ski mountaineering and snowshoeing, downhill skiing, Nordic skiing, hiking
Events: "Fiera di San Luca" in Demonte (third Sunday in October), "Fiera dei Santi" in Vinadio (last Sunday in October), "Sagra della Castagna" chestnut festival in the lower valley (first weekend in October)