Monte Cassino visit

Discussion in 'Military History and Militaria' started by Bouillabaisse, Jun 1, 2007.

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  1. Bouillabaisse

    Bouillabaisse LE Book Reviewer

    I've got the best part of a day to do some sightseeing in the area south of Rome and thought I might go to see Anzio and Monte Cassino. Anyone been there that can give tips on what there is to see and what to look at/for?
  2. This may help:

    All good info, best part of a day prob not enough I would be tempted to stay in Rome and look at older (circa Gladiator) battlesites. That said if self driving you could still get a good feel for the place, surprisingly just taking in the area and imagining how the fight progressed as beneficial as actually looking at locations.

  3. Bouillabaisse

    Bouillabaisse LE Book Reviewer

    Thanks, BigRed. I did try the "search" button but that didn't come up (or I'm stupid and didn't see it).

    I've "done" Rome before and I'll be on my way south during the day so its a bit of a stopover rather than a planned outing. I'll see what I can in time and go back some other time to get the rest.
  4. ‘One’ day’ or best part of could make a type of whistle stop, depends what you want to see and how much homework you’ve done?

    Re Anzio town, apart from a few memorials/statues the town has been developed as a residential seaport as it wasn’t exactly a battle scene itself. The Rangers had a smart walk-in encountering a few Germans two of which they shot. It was shelled of course but the face to face was on the beachhead perimeter which fluctuated. This to has been developed with residential and industrial areas which no real war preservation. The main invasion up the coast from Anzio is now pleasure beaches and manicured to be such. If you’re driving (presume you are) you’ll probably come in on the ‘Rome’ road through Aprilia – old war ref ‘The Factory’. The Beachhead War Cemetery is first met on the left as you approach town, then the Anzio War Cemetery again on the left as you start to enter town. The larger one past it is normal civilian. The American one is a fair way on direction Netuno.

    There is the small Anzio Beachhead Museum which can be sought out on your way to the centre. One large room and a very good effort – well worth the support.

    Re Cassino, again if self driving, as you come off the by-pass for town centre, you’ll get one chance to spot the CWGC sight for the Cemetery which will take you off to the right at a major fork, and then it’s down on the right. If you end up in the middle of town, probably signs or advice for the Cemetery will be to one of the others – there are several! Even if you’re not one for cemeteries I would still go. The layout and architecture is very impressive as is the amazing view of the monastery in the background. The town was a virtual total rebuild and again is a working town and not a tourist attraction. There is a history museum which is reasonable well marked. This is relatively new and they enthusiastically continue to make changes.

    The monastery of course is a must, but perhaps more, appreciation of the drive up to it and view from the top. Seeing the position for yourself looking over the Liri Valley will bring so much home.

    You MUST note the public hours and MUST observe the dress code. ‘Dress respectfully’ means what it says which includes NO short shorts. Bermuda style down to at least the knee is the least length. It remains a working monastery and religious residence and must be treated as such

    With the time you have you could probably fit the basics in if you set out a schedule and stick to it.

    Good luck.

  5. If you're serving military, contact the British Embassy in Rome and ask them to get you permission to sign out the keys from the monastery for the area to the northeast of Monte Cassino, The Polish Memorial on Point 593. Well worth a walk around, there are still German foxholes blasted into the rock, and a quick saunter will lead you to a new understanding how bloody awful it must have been to assault the position.

    Also worth walking the ground at the sight of 36 US Div's failed crossing of the Rapido at san Angelo, which won't take as much time. A good example of how not to carry out a river crossing, with its own Congressional Hearing after WW2 to see who was to blame.

    For something more uplifting, check out 2 WILTS crossing of the Garigliano to the west (directly south of Tufo), or 169 Bde's fight through to Castelforte.

    PM me if you want up to date info as I've just been on a Tour there and will happily copy my notes to you.

    Edited to add the one place you simply must visit is the CWGC Cemetery in Cassino; which the best tended war cemetery I've ever come across.
  6. Wouldn't go to Tuffo though, they say it's a dive? :D
    (sorry about that, joke for Italian speakers) :toilet:

  7. Bouillabaisse

    Bouillabaisse LE Book Reviewer

    Many thanks for all the help. I had a wander round the top of the mountain but didn't get into the monastery - its closed between 1230 and 1530. I did go to the Polish and Commonwealth cemeteries. Very moving. I must be getting old and soft as some of the private messages on the headstones almost moved me to tears.

    The unofficial museum in the cafe on the way into Cassino from the A1 is worth the 2 euros, if nothing else for the wierd collection of uniforms there. I was much taken with the Morrocan division's combat dressing gowns. :D
  8. Does anyone know if there are any remnants of or anything marking the place of Amazon bridge on the river Rapido?

    As my grandfather was in 225 Fld Coy RE I’d like to see the spot where the river was finally crossed.
  9. My Grandfather has just recently passed away and at his funeral there was a mention that his name was on some sort of memorial or plaque at Monte Casino. He was in the Scots Guards and His Name was James Gordon Sharp. Does any one have any info on this ? Thank you
  10. "Monte Cassino" by Matthew Parker gives a detailed description of the Amazon bridge crossing,including references to the engineers in question.
    Terence Cuneo also painted "Bridging the Rapido" which gives a visual idea of the fighting there.You can view the painting in question by simply viewing it on any internet image browser such as MSN.
    Hope this helps.
  11. Thanks for the info bohs_man. I do have a copy of the Cuneo print but haven't read Parker's book. I'll check it out.

    My grandfather's memoirs contains an interesting account by the Sapper who recced the bridge site. He swam across the Rapido so that he could measure the width of the river and check out the earth bank on the opposite side.