3572 UNIVERSAL HISTORY-THE MODERN WORLD.
they would endeavor to fight their way
up the Adige and Brenta valleys toward
Trent and Botzen, and they would also
try to force the passage of the Isonzo
and capture Trieste and Pola, the Austrian
naval base south of Trieste. To throw
all their forces against Trieste alone would
be to the last degree unwise, for the region
about Trent, as will be seen from the map,
projects deep into northern Italy, and
from it the enemy would be able to fall
like a thunderbolt upon the Italian flank
and perhaps cut the army off from Italy.
To guard against this danger, the Italians
must conquer this salient and hold the
roads leading out of it.
On the day that war began, Austrian
aviators dropped bombs upon the city
of Venice and five other towns along the
Adriatic coast, while Austrian war vessels
shelled towns from the sea. For the
most part, however, the larger Austrian
ships remained closely in port, and only
the submarines and other small craft
sallied out at intervals to annoy the Italian
navy and merchant shipping. Throughout the civilized world anxiety existed
lest Austrian aerial bombs should destroy
some of the priceless buildings and other
objects of art in northern Italy, and the
Italians took steps to safeguard these
things as far as possible.
On land the Austrians contented themselves with a defensive role. The Italian
armies at once crossed the border at many
places, uprooting the yellow and black
posts bearing the Austrian eagle, as a
sign that the frontier was to be erased.
The opposition was at first comparatively
slight, but presently the Italian forces
reached positions which the Austrians
had prepared in places that were naturally
fitted for easy defense, and thenceforward
the Italian advance was a slow and costly
As a matter of precaution, the Italians
delayed their serious movement eastward
against Trieste until they could occupy
the Trentino, or at least seize the main
highways and "cover" the defenses, thereby
eliminating the danger of a sudden irruption against their left flank and rear.
The fighting in this region was both extremely difficult and extremely romantic.
It was in large part a warfare of peaks
and passes, of Austrian Tyrolese troops
against Italian Bersaglieri. The jagged
peaks of lofty mountains towered high