We learn as children that the Great War left millions of dead in a carnage that – fortunately – has had no equal. But not everybody is aware of the fact that nowadays air pollution causes about seven million deaths a year in the world, nearly the same number as World War I. And few seem genuinely worried by this. This is one of the reason why in summer 2014, the mountaineers of the Ta-Pum expedition decided to walk more than two thousand kilometres, climbing over 90,000 metres in total, from the Stelvio to the Adriatic sea. If one wanted to experience the same itinerary, one could leave from Sacrario di Redipuglia, the infamous war memorial in Friuli, to then cross the four main fronts of the war, taking via ferratas, walking past memorials, cemeteries and forts, but above all enjoying the summits and the most beautiful parts of the eastern Alps.

Adamello-Giudicarie, Cadore, Carnia, Fronte Giulio and Carso. And, obviously, Asiago, Grappa, Vittorio Veneto, Piave, Tagliamento and Isonzo. But it is not only about history: rucksacks also hold the instruments supplied by CNR, the national research centre, to record air pollution.

Because even the summits are subjected to toxic and climate-changing gasses.

Ta-Pum, the CNR association, is named after the sound of a gunshot, and is also the title, as older generations especially will remember, of a poignant song of the Alpini – the Alpini who fought on all five fronts, and have chosen forget-me-nots as their remembrance flower. The CNR has produced a scientific documentary of the project that can be watched on the online channel of what is the largest European research institute. The full mountain trail, in its entirety, can be walked. Every step is an experience rich in memory and emotion, surrounded by summits, glaciers and isolated hamlets.

There are also tunnels and culverts to be explored, imagining one is rushing to the fighting zones - areas that are now fortunately peaceful. And also seven forts, the eagle's nest at Monte Ortigara, the theatre of the battle for the plateaux. The aim is to bring together the past, the memory of those who sacrificed their lives, and a commitment to scientific research, so as to promote a better and peaceful world. Ta-Pum and the mountains want to remind people that only a world that overcomes all conflicts can come together to provide a better future for our planet and mankind, starting with respecting and protecting the environment, which now more than ever sees science in the front line.

Mario Tozzi (CNR geologist, TV presenter and writer) | Mondadori, pp. 440 € 19,50
The famous geologist leads the reader through the discovery of places and instances where nature still thrives unspoilt, a treasure that is becoming increasingly endangered, but escaped the assault of mass tourism.

The book "L'Italia Intatta" by Mario Tozzi