Looking for Assistance in Italy

I am in the planning stages of a trip to Italy this coming spring/summer. It’s not a purely gun trip, but I have some time set aside for gun activities. I have a few things in the works myself, but I would be very interested in talking to any Italian readers who have connections to good collections (museums or private ones) and would be interested in helping with scheduling visits (or translation – I don’t speak Italian). I am also looking at the possibility of taking some time to visit WWI battlefields in the northeast, if anyone has connections in that area.

Please contact me by email at admin@forgottenweapons.com.



  1. My great-great uncle fought at the Battle of Vittorio Veneto in the machine gun battalion of the 332nd Infantry Regiment. Not sure if this is on your itinerary or not…

  2. This suggestion isn’t primarily a firearms related one, but the armoury in the Doge’s Palace in Venice is quite famous. It’s primarily known for swords, pole weapons, and armour, but there are some unusual old firearms there. Since you will most likely go to Venice anyway, and the Doge’s Palace is a major sight, be sure to allow time to take in the exhibits in the armoury. Even if you aren’t a big fan of swords and armour, I’m sure you would enjoy it anyway.

    By the way, the Venetian Arsenal is something separate from the armoury, and also quite famous. It’s more of a naval facility though.

  3. It would be very interesting if you could run down information on the BM59 program. I’ve always wondered what the hell the Italians did differently that resulted in the successful BM59, in contrast to the incredibly FUBAR M14 program here in the US. Somewhere along the line, we messed up, and badly. The Italians actually succeeded in turning the the M1 into a fairly successful modern individual infantry weapon, and at a fairly affordable price. The “how” of that program might be educational for us, even now.

  4. As a gun dealer I was visiting BERETTA factory for 4 years ago, and I cant think about a better place to visit, (BERETTAs museum and all the other factorys in Val Trompia area) The area have large gun stores (one of them with a 300 meter indoor shooting range) in the basement, Fantastic !!
    Hope you get a nice trip

  5. Turin (Torino) is not one of the most visited cities in Italy but it has the Royal Armory, closed for several years but now open. Also, if you like old race cars, the Fiat Museum is in one of the suburbs. Buon viaggio!

  6. Dear Ian:
    I read all of your most informative reviews on Forgotten Weapons. A few years ago my wife and I toured Italy. We sent letters to Umberti, Pedersoli, Beretta, and Guerrini asking if it would be possible to tour their facilities. All responded except Caesar Guerrini. They could not be bothered! On your tour you should travel North to Bresha in Northern Italy. Stay overnight there. Get up early and take the bus to Val Trompae. Unberti, Pedersoli, and Beretta were so welcoming and cordial. The Beretta Museum is terrific!! You will see alot of “Forgotten Weapons” there. Then take the train to Milan and fly home from there.
    Best regards,
    Charlie Erb

  7. Are you familiar with Mr. “Cap and Ball” on YouTube? Black powder gun enthusiast, and pretty sure he’s Italian.

  8. If you make it further north over the border into Switzerland, drop me a line on the e-mail attached to this post. I could probably line you up some interesting pieces to look at (a friend is well into transitional breechloaders and I can possibly hook you up with some collectors, one of whom has a Furrer LMG-25 and his own private bunker complete with shooting range).

  9. As the ice recedes year by year in the Alps, there are fairly regular discoveries of war dead, Italians and Austro-Hungarian soldiers both. Do you have a copy of _The White War_? That’s probably the most accessible book about the Carso plateau and the fighting on the Italian/Tyrolean front in WWI. Erwin Rommel got his Pour le Merite during his role in Caporetto. There are big fortresses and so on to visit with websites. I’d think Trieste would be utterly fascinating, if your trip has the time and means to get over there. There is a monument near Gorizia to people killed by Yugoslav partisans who ejected the Salo Republic and German troops from that area. Folks I know rave about Slovenia and Lubljana, so some of the battlefields there might be equally accessible too. Have you seen the Italian/Yugoslav WWI film _Uomini contro_? For a film, it adhered pretty closely to Emilio Lussu’s WWI memoir, _A Soldier on the Southern Front_.

    Decades ago an Italian American acquaintance told me of his ancestor’s wartime experiences. He was a peasant dragooned into the army and shipped off to a place that seemed utterly alien, and that he almost couldn’t believe was still Italy. The guy accidentally broke his rifle stock pounding stakes into the frozen ground with it, and concealed it for weeks from his superiors, because back home down on the landowner’s farm, broken tools meant severely docked wages! Ultimately, he sickened and became deathly ill and was relocated to a hospital. He survived disease, and when he was discharged and told to return to his unit, he just packed up and went home. Enough soldiering. Needless to say, capture would have likely entailed summary execution since Cadorna and other Italian generals would have made Stalin envious. In fact, the Italian army used “blocking detachments” well before the Bolsheviki.

    Have a fun trip!

  10. If you jump on you tube there is a documentary called “ulyisse la Grande Guerra”. The presenter Alberto Angela goes thru some of the museums and the front may be of interest to you heckle som of the large artillery pieces are still on the mountains.
    I’d love to see some carcano videos too if you can!!

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