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Hrušica / Ad Pirum

26 July 2024


7:00 p.m. guided tour of the Ad Pirum archaeological site organised by Narodni Muzej Slovenije; departure from Gostilna Stara Pošta - Podkraj 100, 5273 Col

8:30 p.m. possibility of dining at one's own expense at the Gostilna Stara Pošta (reservation required: +386 (0)53668444) or homemade dinner in the meadow next to the Gostilna Stara Pošta (bring your own food!)

9:30 p.m. start of the performance in the meadow next to the Gostilna Stara Pošta 

event language: Slovenian

information: +386 30313488

thanks to: Narodni Muzej Slovenije, Gostilna Stara Pošta, Vesna Tratnik, Gorazd Gros

In much earlier times, and in a certain sense much more correctly than the Alpine Wall of the Littorio, we find the Claustra Alpium Iuliarium, a series of fortifications built by the Romans starting from the late 3rd century AD, to defend the access routes to the Italian peninsula from the north-east. As demonstrated by archaeologist Michaël Vannesse from the Université libre de Bruxelles in his studies, rather than a truly coherent defensive system, the Claustra were more like various defense systems built over a period of more than a century, which often functioned at different times, for different needs and not always in a coordinated manner. Here at the Hrušica mountain pass are the remains of a mighty fortress, with walls that must have been up to two meters thick and seven meters high, with seven guard towers and a garrison of five hundred soldiers on a permanent basis, with the possibility of hosting up even more of them in case of need. The Romans called it Ad Pirum ( probably in reference to πυρά, Greek for signal fire), but they also called it in another way, sublime in its simplicity: In Alpe Julia

“The Romans built it here because it’s where the shortest route between Aquileia and Emona (Ljubljana) passed, a variant of the Via Gemina which followed the older Via dell’Ambra”. Vesna Tratnik, archaeologist for the Slovenian National Museum and native to these areas, explains this to me as we walk among the ruins. “The most interesting aspect of this fort, and of the entire Claustra system, is that even though it was the center of various civil conflicts, above all the one between Theodosius and Flavius Eugenius during the battle of the Mrzli river (fluvius Frigidus) in 394 AD which was resolved in favor of the former right here below us, it wasn’t used for the purpose for which it was built. It was supposed to defend the peninsula from barbarian invasions, but both Alaric and Attila passed through here without encountering any resistance."

The fog thickens, the surrounding woods become even more gloomy among these remote, solitary and rugged hills, where bora is born. Suddenly Vesna picks up some flowers and shows them to me: “Do you know these? Here we call them špominčica, a name that has to do with memory, with what must be remembered...” And suddenly it seems to me that it’s the fortress itself that’s speaking, and that the right name this time is the romance one, that nontiscordardimè / forget-me-not that among these mists seems like a warning to all those who still persist on building walls.