The history of Fort Bard is revealed in a new, permanent exhibition area. The Prison, located in the Opera Carlo Alberto, is now open to the public. The narrow cells, where prisoners were kept, provide an itinerary that takes visitors through the military history of the Fort, for centuries regarded as a strategic crossing point. Short films, documents and reconstructions in high-impact 3D introduce visitors to the architectural evolution of the fortress, revealing the historical figures that have marked the main events forming its history from the 11th Century, through its reconstruction in 1830, until today.
The itinerary for visitors
The Prison is one of the Fort’s most alluring sites, and holds 24 tiny cells (1.3m x 2m approximately) that are laid out along four sections, preceded by an entrance gallery dedicated to iconographic representations of the Fort in the form of ancient prints, paintings and reproductions. The complexity of the Fort’s history is rendered through a stratified display of the various figures and events, which starts in the central area and continues through to the subsequent sections. The hall hosts a film dedicated to the Fort’s complex restoration and reconstruction works between 1996 and 2006. Here, visitors are able to access the first four rooms of the first section that contain 3-D models representing the transformation of the Fort through Roman times, the Middle ages and the 16th, 17th and 18th Centuries.
The next rooms host a film dedicated to the principal characters of the Fort’s most significant period, when the Napoleonic army put the fortress under siege.
In the second section Napoleone Bonaparte, together with the French general Berthier and the Austrian captain Bernkopf, reveal the offensive and defensive strategies employed during the fierce battle in the Spring of 1800. Projections of a series of drawings by the painter and surveyor Pietro Bagetti and of Stendahl’s writings – privileged witnesses to Bard’s history – further enhance this part of the itinerary.
The third section is dedicated to the testimony of Francesco Antonio Olivero, a captain of the Military Engineering Corps, commissioned by Carlo Felice Savoia to the reconstruction of the Fort following Napoleon’s passage. Here, various visual and written documents are projected inside a cell, showing a relief of the Fort from 1829 and a project from 1830. Olivero exploited the site’s structural characteristics by designing several overlapping structures in order to increase the number of firing lines. Works were concluded in only eight years.
The fourth section is dedicated to Camillo Benso, Count of Cavour, an exclusive “inmate” during the reconstruction works, and to whom supervision of the works was entrusted in 1831. Present in this section are also everyday objects of the Fort. Here, scenic design is used to reproduce the typical ambience of a cell, whilst one of the walls displays a mural depicting the various garrisons at the Fort, as well as the reproduction of a few illustrations by Quinto Cenni.
An elaborate film, produced together with the Archives of the Military Engineering Corps of Rome, is projected on two monitors documenting the Fort’s military activities over the years.
The last room illustrates the Fort’s downfall and revival during the 20th Century, and includes an interview with Ferdinando Jacquemet, living witness of Bard’s most recent chapter in history. The itinerary ends with an animated film covering the evolution of the military settlements on the Fort Bard, from the 11th Century until today.