20 sept. monte cassino
we depart from anzio early in the morning. my head
hurts....death, even by airplane, would hurt less than my head hurts right
we drive south along the coast until we hit gaeta and
head inland to monte cassino. we end up seeing it miles away as we climb
up the endless switchbacks.
monte cassino is a rocky hill about eighty miles (130
km) south of
a mile to the west of the town of
having been on the hill) and 520 m (1700 ft) high...straight up from the
valley bottom. benedict
of nursia established his first
the source of the
cassino was also a major battleground for the loyal edmonton regiment
towards the end of
World War II
and is why we are here.
battle of monte cassino (also known as the battle for rome and the battle
for cassino) was a costly series of battles in
world war II,
fought by the
with the intention of breaking through the
The gustav line was anchored by germans holding the rapido, Liri and
garigliano valleys and surrounding peaks and ridges, but not the historic
although they manned defensive positions set into the steep slopes below
the abbey walls.
it was only after the
1944 destruction of the monastery by american bombers that german
paratroopers poured into the ruins to defend it. from
1944 it was assaulted four times by british, american, canadian, new
zealander, south african, french, poles - even newly arrived brazilians.
over 54,000 allied and 20,000 german soldiers were
killed in the battle for cassino. 39 loyal edmonton regiment soldiers, all
killed on 23 may 1944, are buried in the commonwealth cemetery in
cassino. a polish and german cemetery are nearby.
after holding my breath the entire death ride up the
side of the 1700 ft hill, we reach the abbey proper. there are about out a
million tourists and while l am good enough for the local rentacop to have
his picture taken with me, some swirly dressed monk decides he isn't.
we spend the time exploring the monastery in the pouring rain.
we pack up and head to the polish war cemetery where a
friend's uncle is buried...one of two relatives killed in the italian
theatre. there are busloads of polish tourists in the cemetery. it is nice
to see so many people there and we watch a solemn service, conducted in
polish, in the pouring rain.
we end up heading into naples in the dark. it is also
our first adventure with the autostrada.....a toll highway with literally
a different way of paying each time we come to a different toll booth. l
am sure this thing has been designed by germans...
our first opinion of naples, other than it appears to be
full of packs of wild dogs, is a cart being pulled by a pony down an
otherwise deserted highway. we decide that we will not drink and drive
we end up in the hotel clinton for the night and then
after searching for an hour for anything that resembles a restaurant,
poison ourselves with gas station fare and warm beer.
click on a
picture to see a larger image. hit arrows at either end of the slideshow
for more pictures.
monte cassino from the commonwealth cemetery in cassino. we have seen this hill for hours....it commands every view for miles.
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