Posted by: Debra Kolkka | December 5, 2013

Amazing Alpini

All over Italy I see monuments dedicated to Alpini…the elite mountain warfare military corps of the Italian Army.





The first Alpini were recruited in 1872 in the northern mountains regions of Italy. They are light infantry troops specializing in mountain combat and are the oldest active mountain infantry in the world.

A distinctive feature of the uniform is the hat, Cappello Alpino, which sports a fine raven feather.  The soldiers are also known as Le Penne Nere…the Black Feathers.

I spotted this hat on a seat on a train from Verona.


I convinced its handsome owner to model it for me. He was on his way to visit his grandmother in the south of Italy.


There is a very special monument to the Alpini on the hill above my apartment in Ponte  a Serraglio. I often walk up to the park above Colle to see the Chiesina Alpini.


There is a prayer to the Alpini on a little plaque on the front of the little church.


We often see members of the Alpini helping at local events. They do a great job and always look great in their feathered hats.

The hats turn up in the strangest places.



  1. This is their most popular song: “Sul cappello” in which they sing about their feathered hat and the “piuma near”

    • Thanks for the link Maria. I think the Alpini are marvelous.

  2. Thanks for this interesting post Debra.

    • There are quite a few Alpini in our area. Bagni di Lucca is on the edge of the Apuan Alps.

  3. This is so very interesting. Thank you so much for this Deb. I too have seen that and I never had an idea what it was. Thank you for sharing.

      • The little monument at Colle is lovely. There is a charming old gentleman who looks after the area. I often see him on my walks.

  4. Deb,
    My grandfather was a member of the Alpini in WWII. When I was young every time it would snow he would talk of being on skis for months on end, now I miss those stories.
    Thanks for rekindling those fond memories.

    • It must have been very tough during WWII in this area. There was little food and people had do make do with what they could find.

  5. Great post Debra; but it was the coffee pot that propelled me to let out a ‘shriek’ of surprise! Wouldn’t it be fun to have that one brew up your java every morning. So apropos for this post; once again you found something so unique and interesting to share! Happy seasonal regards.

    • I think I may have to go back to buy that coffee maker. It would certainly be a cheerful way to greet the day.

  6. LOVE IT!!!

    • They wear a very attractive hat.

      • Italians and how they carry off their uniforms is always a source of some amazement for me.

  7. My ex-husband was an Alpino when he was young and comes from a long line of proud Alpini. I did a lot of translation about the little-known alpine campaigns of the First World War – I learnt so much! I translated all of the signs of the Ecomuseo della Grande Guerra and it was a truly emotional experience – so many young lives were taken.

    • War is always a horrible waste. Have you read Love and War in the Apennines by Eric Newby? It is really interesting.

  8. Love it too. Hope Lisa Clifford also reads your blog.

    • The Alpini around here get involved in many of the local festivities.

  9. Loving the hat on the coffee pot.

    • I think I need one.

  10. The Alpini are very proud and we have seen them volunteering at all the festivals we have attended in Bagni di Lucca.

    • They are very active in the area.

  11. Last summer I was walking up Gianicolo Hill in Roma trying to locate the monument to Garibaldi. One of the Alpini was standing near La Fontana dell’Acqua Paola. When I approached him to ask in which direction I should go to find the monument, he saluted me, then answered my question. After I thanked him, he saluted me again. I was just a regular tourist. He was so gracious.

    • There are some very charming Italian men about. Did you also see the monument to Garibaldi’s wife?

  12. What a dapper looking hat! I seem to recall seeing these in Italy but had no idea what they were – thanks for this!

    • It is a very cool hat. It was the memorial on the mountain that drew my attention to the Alpini.

  13. I had never heard of the Alpini before this post. So interesting to read about them! 😀 The hats are very stylish!

  14. […] chairperson complained of a “lack of movement”. The Alpini (see also Debra Kolkka’s post at had their refreshment stall with focaccie, necci and vin brulé and so did the Red […]

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