The area in which the Rocca d’Anfo rises, always constituted a natural border to close the way toward the Pianura Padana.
It gained the political value when the Visconti commanded for the first time to the Chief Magistrate of Brescia to build a barrage line on the Caffaro. The wiggly system with straight stretches of barrier, which arrived from the lake to the mounts ending in a long wall corridor, it dates backs to the first years of the 14th century.
THE PERIOD OF THE REPUBBLICA DELLA SERENISSIMA
Later, during the Venetian dominion begun in the first half of the 15th century, the Repubblica della Serenissima imposed an heavy customs politic that weighted on the movement of goods. For this reason, the military engineer of Brescia Gianfrancesco Martinengo had to modernize the viscount building, defined by the Venetian state “door of the state”, in a deeply way.
The fortress develops along the whole slope of the mountain, covering its own two assignments: the low complex had the control of the border and the road, while the high part had a defensive function. However, they waned during the XVII and XVIII centuries.
THE PERIOD OF THE FRENCH EMPIRE
In the year VII (14 January 1798) of the revolutionary French calendar, the project of the Rocca d’Anfo was launched in obedience to Napoleon’s will. He wanted a fortification without delays and without considering the season, in order to have in the Rocca d’Anfo and not Brescia a piazza that could live to its own devices and that could be able to resist to an artillery attack. Indeed, it had to be able to resist with a garrison of four hundred men, for at least twenty-five days, to a powerful rank of soldiers.
The works at the summit of the Mount Parlessi, at the foot of the Mount Censo, started in 1803 following the project of the engineer François-Joseph-Didier Liédot. Only the high part of the impregnable Napoleonic Fortress was completed because of the complexity of the financings and the continual request of annual maintenance. At the same time, the attitude of the old Venetian Fortress was transformed too.
However, the Rocca d’Anfo was never utilised for the aim for which Napoleon strongly wanted it.
FROM THE RISORGIMENTO TO THE UNITY OF ITALY
The new political situation, originated from the Austrian dominion on the Lombardo-Veneto, conducted to a condition of overtaking of the strategic importance that the Rocca of the Valsabbia benefited for many centuries. It became the maximum outpost of the power of the Hapsburg on the Valley and foothold to guarantee the way to the Tyrol in case of severe crisis or immediate retreat.
With the Unity of Italy and the its successive development at the end of the 19th Century in the land of Brescia, Giuseppe Zanardelli encouraged the city and the territory. It was, indeed, in this period that the defensive equipment of the Rocca d’Anfo were renovated, expanding and renovating the batteries, evidently necessary to control the border with the Austria Hungarian Empire.
THE TWENTIETH CENTURY
The First World War did not closely undermine the Rocca d’Anfo because, resided relegated in the rear base, its potential of artillery was not exploited, remaining destined to be an ammunitions warehouse until the end of the war in 1918. With the definitive territorial change, the Fortress irrevocably lost any strategic possibility and, as a consequence, the annulment of its functions. From that moment, it was used as barracks, point of logistic impact and warehouse of ammunitions and weapons.
Since September 1943, it remained without garrison and during the post-war, it was apt to removal on behalf of some “retrieving”, who removed anything that could be used.
The Italian Army utilized the Rocca d’Anfo until 1975 and then it was abandoned.
It remained bound to the military secret until 1992, when the whole area was demilitarised and transferred from a Military Property to a State-Owned one.
Gradual decline, neglect, landslide movements and acts of vandalism has stretched what the time had spared.