Guided visit to former Nazi bunker
The mysterious and haunting bunker in the entrails of Mount Soratte, some 45 km north of Rome, will be open to the public for evening visits from 17.30 on Saturday 30 August.
Volunteer enthusiasts from the nearby village of Sant’Oreste will guide small groups through the underground maze, dug out on the orders of Mussolini as a weapons and munitions store. The bunker then became the HQ Southern Europe of German Field Marshal Albert Kesselring from 1943 to 1944.
Rumour has it that Kesselring, retreating north after the 1944 bombardment, ordered 68 crates of loot taken from Rome’s Jewish community and gold seized from the Bank of Italy to be buried deep in the bunker. Several expeditions have failed to find the treasure, but the fact that it never turned up anywhere else has kept the rumour alive.
The final military incarnation of the underground maze was as an atomic bunker for the Italian government, built over the years 1967-1972 at the height of the Cold War, but never completed. Since then, the enthusiasts of the Soratte Bunker Association have invested considerable volunteer work in making large tracts of the bunker safe for visits, and securing the areas where this would be impracticable or simply too expensive. They occasionally organise guided tours, like that of the coming weekend.
The entrance fee is entirely dedicated to financing the restoration effort. According to the association, even those who have visited the bunker in the past will find new areas now open and several new exhibits on display. They quip that visits will go ahead as planned, “even in the event of bad weather, earthquake or atomic attack.”
Limited groups will enter the bunker every 30 minutes between 19.30 and 22.30. The tour lasts about one hour, and finishes with a multimedia presentation. Booking via the association’s website is strongly recommended, to avoid a long wait. Bookings can also be made by email at email@example.com or by phone on 380 383 8102.
Visitors must bring a torch, as parts of the bunker are unlit in order not to disturb the fauna; comfortable shoes and a warm sweater are also required – the inside temperature varies between 10 and 14°C. People with mobility problems and those suffering from claustrophobia or panic attacks are advised not to take part.