Monday, February 25, 2013

Return from the Grand Tour

Well not quite the "grand tour" of the eighteenth century but close enough (and certainly enough for my wallet!).  We spent last week travelling around Italy (Milan, Rome and Turin).  It was in Turin that I came across a small museum dedicated to Pietro Micca who saved Turin from the French during the siege of 1706.

The museum has two galleries - one with some artifacts from the siege and the other with models of the siege and progress of the French works.  From there you can then enter the tunnels built below Turin to help in defending the city and counter mining of the French works.

Pietro discovered a French attack on a dark night.  The French had entered the dry moat around the Northern bastion and broken into the sally gate.  Closing one of the inner gates he allowed his friends to leave the tunnel before igniting a store of powder and blowing the French attack up.  He survived the explosion only to die of asphyxiation yards short of the escape ladder.  General Amoretti discovered the tunnels in the 1960's and preserved them before they were completely destroyed by new housing being built in the city.  Included in the preservation is the escarpment where the sally door is located - and having stood at the foot of it I have a whole new appreciation of how difficult storming Vauban fortifications was (no photographs I'm afraid).
Model showing the Vauban fortifications and the French siege lines
Closer view of the model

Diarama of the tunnels being prepared for detonation under a French battery.

Wall mounted large calibre musket (looked to be around 50mm diameter bore)

French attack one of the bastions with tunnels below

Savoy field gun

Savoy limber for the artillery

French siege mortar
Overall it was an excellent way to spend a few hours and I have to say that the guide was terrific taking time to explore the exhibits and even allowing me to handle some of the items (very against the rules apprenetly but since we were the only ones there I won't tell - oops).


Alex Burns said...

This is great! Did the museum have any information related to the relief of the city? or just the siege?

Steve-the-Wargamer said...

Paul- has one of your email accounts been hacked??

Saw this and gave me cause for concern..