The "Hospice" Defensive Line
Translation by Robert T. REDMAN

Brief description

The Caposaldo Ospizio [Hospice Stronghold] is part of the 1st Defensive System and belongs to the overall Sector IX "Moncenisio", Subsector IX/b "Moncenisio", "Lago" Group.

It includes the following fortified works:

After the changes in the borders between Italy and France ratified by the peace treaty of 10 February 1947 these works passed into French territory together with the plateau of Moncenisio and the upper part of Cenischia Valley. The transfer to France has at least saved it from the dismantling decreed by the peace treaty for the larger part of those works which remained in Italy (agreement of 18 July 1948).

The area of the plateau of Moncenisio underwent profound changes in the 60's as a result of the construction of the third dam inaugurated in 1968, as a result of which the original road, the "Hospice of the Moncenisio", and the fortified works were submerged by the lake whose level increased by several tens of meters.
It is important to note that the current road section between the Gran Croce and the Moncenisio Pass did not exist before this construction.

The works of the "Hospice" defensive line submerged in the lake are: the centers 18 and 19, the Roncia anti-tank ditch, the posts 27, 28 and 29, and the shelters G, G1 and V.
On top of the Shelter F the Pyramid Chapel has been constructed.


BOGLIONE M., Festung - Enciclopedia multimediale interattiva del Vallo Alpino e delle fortificazioni militari delle Alpi occidentali [Fortification - Multi-media Interactive Encyclopedia of the Alpine Wall and of the Military Fortifications of the Western Alps].
CORINO P.G., GASTALDO P., La montagna fortificata [The Fortified Mountain], Melli, Borgone di Susa 1993.
CORINO P.G., L'opera in caverna del Vallo Alpino [The Underground Works of the Alpine Wall], Melli, Borgone di Susa 1995.

Virtual visit
Center 19 and Post 29 Center 20 Center 21 Battery B3

How to reach the works

Departure point

Piano delle Fontanette (2093 meters above s.l.), along the Route Nationale no. 6, above the Lake of  Moncenisio.

Access itinerary to the Centers 19, 20 and 21, and to Post 29

Center 21: From the settlement of Piano delle Fontanette proceed toward the Moncenisio Pass along the gravel road which runs parallel to the main road. Thirty or forty meters after the left turn one encounters the entrance block of Center 21, from which one can see the south block a little lower on the opposite side of the road.
Another way is to continue along the asphalt road until the raised platform on which the small metallic tower is located. Then descend to the blocks below.

Center 20: From the south block of Center 21 continue along the path until meeting on the left a trench which leads after 20 or 30 meters to Center 20.

Center 19 and Post 29: From Center 20 descend toward the lake, keeping in mind that the works may be submerged if the water level is high.

Access itinerary to Battery B3

From the far left of the space below the Pyramid Chapel, after having gone through the wooden gate, descend along the path which leads to the lake. Upon arrival at a small mound with a steel rod at the top to which some wire mesh is still attached, continue to the left on the secondary branch of the path until reaching the flat space with the ruins. There you will find below the above mentioned mound the upper entrance of the works, barred by a grill.
From the edge of the flat space, looking toward the left of the mound above the entrance, you can see a crater in the earth. It is the result of the collapse of the roof of the lower chambers of the battery located many meters below.
Continuing from the edge of the flat space along a rather difficult path which descends with some sharp turns almost to the lake, you reach the flat space of the lower entrance where you still find some service buildings. This entrance is also barred by a grill.
In view of the extremely precarious conditions of the inside chambers, due in particular to the presence of unstable cement blocks in various parts of the arches, and due to the complete collapse of the ceiling in the chambers between the second and third casemate, ENTRY IS STRONGLY ADVISED AGAINST.
Nevertheless the visit outside the works is very interesting which can be done by carefully going along the lake shore, finding in succession the 4 metal casemates and the observation post with the emergency exit.


Istituto Geografico Centrale [Central Geographic Institute]: 1:50.000 - no. 2 "Valli di Lanzo e Moncenisio" ["Lanzo and Moncenisio valleys"]
Istituto Geografico Militare [(Italian) Military Geographic Institute]: 1:25.000 - Page 54 I SE "Colle Piccolo Moncenisio"
1:25.000 - Page 55 IV SO "Novalesa"
Institut Géographique National [(French) National Geographic Institute]:  1:25.000 - 3634 O "Lanslebourg - Mont Cenis - Parc National de la Vanoise"
1:25.000 - 3634 OT "Val Cenis/Charbonnel"

Note: The maps of the Military Geographic Institute, unless there have been recent updatings, still show the situation before the lake was raised. They therefore can be useful for getting a topographical idea of the area when the works were still functional. However, in view of the great changes in the road network, they are of no use for finding your way.  

Suggestions for visiting


It is indispensable to have a powerful and efficient light source, making sure to also have spare bulbs and batteries.
Due to relatively strong drafts and the low temperatures inside the works, sufficient clothing is recommended, also in warm weather..
It is necessary to wear mountain boots, and a protective helmet is recommended.


It is advisable to not go alone inside the works and to pay maximum attention to any objects sticking out (tubes, metal plates, etc.), and to any plates found in the pavement.

In addition, especially in the easily accessible works, pay maximum attention to the wells of the metal casemates or below ventilation shafts which open from the roofs. Often there will be some careless person (and not just children!) who enjoys dropping stones, even large ones, through the external openings.

The conditions indicated are valid for the date in parentheses. In the meantime conditions may have worsened.

"Hospice" Defensive Line - Menu
Center 19 and Post 29
Center 20
Center 21
Battery B3

The underground fortifications of the Alpine Wall (Table of Contents)

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