Italian coin remembers their fallen in the First World War on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier’s centenary

It’s fair to say that the Italian Front in the First World War is one of those forgotten battlefields that just isn’t well known outside of Italy. It was, however, an especially harsh one, often taking place at high Alpine altitudes in bitter weather against the waning Austi-Hungarian Empire. While Italy’s entry into the war was hardly a noble one (it had been negotiating with both sides for territorial reward for support), it did fully commit, and by the wars end had lost over 530,000 men,

The battles against Austro-Hungarian forces aped those of the Western Front, with constant battles offering little gain and large casualty numbers. There were twelve battles of the Isonzo, for example, spread across 2.5 years, ending in the Italian Army being routed. The pressure was lightened in the region as Germany withdrew forces for the under assualt Western Front, and Austria-Hungary did the same to put down ethnic rebellion at home. After the war, Italy was bitter at not getting all of the territory she felt she was owed as part of the Versailles Treaty, and like Germany, it formented social disquiet that directly led to a Fascist government, in this case that of Benito Mussolini. So many men fell in this conflict, for so little reward.

This new Italian coin is a remembrance of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier that’s located in Rome, and was raised in 1921. The reverse of the coin depicts a poignant scene – a soldier reading a letter from home while stationed in the Alpine theatre. It really hammers home to bleakness of the region and the loneliness that the soldiers, many barely old enough to join the army, must have felt. A very apt piece of work by artist Silvia Petrassi. The obverse shows us one of the braziers holding the perpetual flames, complete with all the intricate carving on the pedestals.

This is a sterling (0.925) silver coin of 18 grams weight, that’s been struck to a special uncirculated finish. It comes boxed with a certificate of Authenticity. The mintage is capped at 5,000 pieces. Available now for €50.00 RRP.

THE TOMB OF THE UNKNOWN SOLDIER IN ROME

The Tomba del Milite Ignoto is a war memorial located in Rome under the statue of the goddess Roma at the Altare della Patria. It is a sacellum dedicated to the Italian soldiers killed and missing during war. It is the scene of official ceremonies that take place annually on the occasion of the Italian Liberation Day (April 25), the Italian Republic Day (June 2) and the National Unity and Armed Forces Day (November 4), during which the President of the Italian Republic and the highest offices of the State pay homage to the shrine of the Unknown Soldier with the deposition of a laurel wreath in memory of the fallen and missing Italians in the wars.

The body of the Italian unknown soldier was chosen on 28 October 1921, in the Basilica of Aquileia by Maria Bergamas, the mother of Antonio Bergamas, an Italian irredentist volunteer in the Royal Italian Army whose body was not recovered. Maria Bergamas chose the body from among 11 unidentified bodies of members of the Italian Armed Forces whose remains had been retrieved from various areas of the front. Maria Bergamas, after passing in front of the first few coffins, slumped to the ground in front of the tenth coffin and screamed her son’s name: this was the chosen body. The other ten bodies remaining in Aquileia were buried in the military cemetery. The body was buried on November 4, 1921.

Parts of the crypt and the sepulcher were made with stone materials from
the mountains that were the scene of the battles of the First World
War: the marble floor is from the Karst Plateau while the small altar
was made of a single block of stone from Monte Grappa. The allegorical meaning of the perpetually burning flames is linked to
their symbolism, which is centuries old, since it has its origins in
classical antiquity, especially in the cult of the dead. A fire that
burns eternally symbolizes the memory, in this case of the sacrifice of
the Unknown Soldier moved by patriotic love, and his everlasting memory
of the Italians. (Source: Wikipedia)

SPECIFICATION
DENOMINATION €5 EURO
COMPOSITION 0.925 silver
WEIGHT 18.0 grams
DIMENSIONS 32.0 mm
FINISH Special uncirculated
MODIFICATIONS Colour
MINTAGE 5,000
BOX / C.O.A. Yes / Yes
IPZS ITALIAN MINT