Italy needed to go on the offensive when it entered the war on the Allied side in May 1915. The unexpected pivot away from the Central Powers had been sold to raucous populist support, as a strategy to win back the terre irredente (‘unreclaimed lands’) from Austria-Hungary. This was a mission endorsed by the king, Victor Emmanuel III, over the heads of a hostile Council of Deputies. The problem was that Italo-Austria was formidably ill suited to feats of arms. The Dolomites and Carnic Alps were virtually impassable, while the one possible route of ingress, via the Asiago plateau, had been well fortified by the Austrian side. The only practicable line of attack (and this was all too apparent to Austria-Hungary, who prepared accordingly) was along the north coast of the Adriatic towards Trieste, then north along the Isonzo valley.
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