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created 27/12/15

The Ships of Gabriele D'Annuzio - Il Vittoriale degli Italiani at the Lago di Garda

Gabriele D'Annuzio (1863 - 1938) was a writer, poet, journalist, playwright. During the First World War, perception of D'Annunzio in Italy was transformed from a literary figure into a national war hero. He was associated with the elite Arditi storm troops of the Italian Army and took part in actions such as the naval assault on B¨ccari (Bakar in Croatia) and a propaganda flight over Vienna. As part of an Italian nationalist reaction against the Paris Peace Conference in 1919, he set up the short-lived Italian Regency of Carnaro in Fiume (modern Rijeka/Croatia) with himself as Duce. After the war he was given by the Italian state a villa overlooking Lake Garda that had been confiscated during the war from a German antiquarian and archaeologist, who was expulsed. This villa, which D'Annuzio inhabited until his death, he stylised into a memorial to himself and Italian nationalism. D'Annuzio is buried in a mausoleum on the site.
Two ships that were involved in his war and post-war actions were given to him as presents by the Italian government. One was motor-torpedoboat MAS 96 that saw action at B¨ccari and the other the cruiser LA PUGLIA that saw action at Fiume.

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Motor-torpedoboat (Motoscafo Anti Sommergibile) MAS 96

MAS 96 was used (together with MAS 94 and 95) during the so-called Beffa di Buccari on 10/11 February 1918 which resulted not in any material damage to the austro-hungarian navy, but had  significant psychological effects and influenced the final months of the war. MAS 96 was presented to D'Annunzio in 1921 and used by him on Lake Garda. It came to rest in a purpose-built museum building in 1942. MAS 96 was armed with two torpedos, a QF-gun, and a machine-gun.

Protected cruiser LA PUGLIA

She was launched in 1898 and first commissioned in 1901. In 1920 she was sent to the Dalmatian coast to support Italian interests during the re-arrangement of national territories following the fall of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. On 11 July 1920 unrest broke out between the Croatian and Italian population in Split/Spalato and the crew of LA PUGLIA intervened, when their commander and a crew member were killed. The ship was sold for scrap in 1923 and Mussolini offered key parts of it to D'Annunzio. The bow section and part of the fittings were transported to the Garda Lake by rail and errected on the grounds of his villa. The hull, however, was rebuilt to resemble the outside appearance.


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