Abruzzo’s WWI Memorial soldiers in In The Shadow of The Apennines

An important symbol in my newly released novel, In The Shadow of The Apennines, is the memorial soldier statue found at the high peak of the Italian mountain town that serves as the setting of my story.

My novel’s protagonist, Samantha, is an American who moves to the tiny Abruzzo mountain town of Marsicano, hoping to make a fresh start. From her cottage, she has clear views up to the memorial solider statue.

Although my town of Marsicano is fictional, it is based on the real-life town of Ovindoli. Ovindoli, like many other towns across the region, has its own memorial soldier statue.

Soldier monument, Ovindoli, Abruzzo / Kimberly Sullivan

These memorials are not uncommon throughout Italy, but what I noticed early on in Abruzzo was just how long the list of WWI fallen soldiers was when compared to the names for WWII.

The Italian campaign in WWI was fought in the Alps, against the Austrians, so it is not surprising that boys bred in this mountainous region were best placed to fight in the Alpine campaign. Sadly, many of them never returned, and this is a topic addressed in my novel.

Soldier monument, Ovindoli, Abruzzo / Kimberly Sullivan

When writing stories, I also like to look at what popular names of the era in which I am writing are. At the memorial statue in Ovindoli (and in many surrounding towns), I was drawn to some of the old-fashioned names that have since fallen out of fashion.

So it is not surprising that (once popular) names like Serafino and Sabadino worked their way into my early-twentieth century novel.

Soldier monument, Ovindoli, Abruzzo / Kimberly Sullivan

I’d also argue that Serafino should make a come-back, although I’m not sure my husband would have agreed with me when it came to naming our own sons…

If you are traveling in Abruzzo, be sure to stop by these soldier memorials. I know every time I’m back in Ovindoli, I like to hike up there and read over the names, and remember a very different world over a century ago. I hope I’ve managed to recapture some of that time period through my novel.

Soldier monument, Ovindoli, Abruzzo / Kimberly Sullivan

Soldier monument, Ovindoli, Abruzzo / Kimberly Sullivan


  1. Barbra on June 23, 2023 at 10:31 am

    Looking forward to reading your book! We have a great-uncle listed on the WW1 Memorial in Pescosansanesco another hill town in Abruzzo. We have been trying to find out more information on where my husband’s Grandfather and Great Uncle fought in WW1. His grandfather left for the US soon after the war’s end. He married, left for US and sent for his wife a couple of years later. Have you found any source for Italian military records?
    Thank you,

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