Friday, February 15, 2013

Complete guide to visit Montecassino

The Battle of Montecassino was a series of four assaults by the allies against the Winter Line in Italy held by the Germans and Italians. The intention was to get Rome. The German defenders were finally driven from their position, but it took so long from 17 January to 18 May 1944.



HOW TO GET MONTECASSINO FROM ROME


The first thing you have to know is that to go up to the abbey, visit the memorials, cemeteries, etc.. you will need a car. To reach Cassino from Rome there are two options:

  • By train -> there is a train running from the Termini station in Rome. There is almost every hour and takes an hour and half to get to the station Cassino. To check out tickets and timetables you can visit www.trenitalia.com . The advance sale of tickets will only be available 7 days before departure of the train. If you go by train then you will have to rent a car there. There is an office of Hertz to 1.5 km from the station (you can see the location here ) and another from Avis to 2 km ( here ). You will have to book your car in advance because these offices have very few cars.
  • By car from Rome -> Leaving Rome, take the highway towards Naples and also takes an hour and a half (if you can find the highway in a reasonable period of time). Once the road is located practically a straight line, we'll just look at the exit Cassino. If you clic here you can check the route with directions. I would advise hiring a car in Rome but be aware that driving in Italy is crazy and reaching the highway is a mess. 

THE ABBEY

Location: here
Website: http://www.montecassino.it/
Opening hours: 8:00-12:00 and 15:30-17:00
Free admission.
Parking fee: 2 euros

The way up to the abbey is signposted throughout the town, so  it's so easy to find it. Inside the abbey you can find some of the sculptures that survived the bombings of 1944 and you can see the damage caused by the shrapnel. The abbey was rebuilt after the war.

The abbey after the bombings of 1944 and today. 
We can see the door to peace.

 Sculpture with shrapnel damage.


It has a beautiful courtyard and the views are spectacular. From here we can see the Polish cemetery.

Views from the abbey. Polish cemetery.



POLISH CEMETERY AND POLISH ARMY MEMORIALS
>
>Location: here.
Free admission.
>The Polish cemetery is located a few meters below the abbey. If  you start going down the hill you'll find the sign that indicates the cemetery.
At the entrance there is a list with the names of Poles who died in the battle, and the location of the tombs. 

It is seen that the cemetery still receives visits. There are many Polish flags and flowers.


 
 
From the cemetery, you can also see the abbey.


 Going back to the parking entrance, you can find this entry.



If you want to access the memorial you will have to pass the gate through a small hole behind the stone (see the red circle). Note that it is a private property. If you meet someone not very friendly may force you to leave, but  there is hardly anyone and usually people are kind with tourists that look for history.


Once inside, climb through a wooded path that will lead us to a crossroads. All roads leading to memorials or points of interest are marked by small signs with the Polish flag.


If you continue on the path of right there is a a hill where we find a monolith dedicated to fallen Polish. The climb takes about 20 minutes.


If you go straight on you'll some remnants of the bombing.


A few meters ahead, on the left, you'll see the house albaneta, the former home of Benedictine monks and farm. It was used as a refuge and trench for German soldiers during the war.



If continue the path you'll get to anothe intersection. The path on the right takes you to a  Polish sherman. Here you find the Cavendish route.

  
It's a memorial made of a tank fallen by the mines that German army had placed to prevent the advance of the Polish army.
Tanks could not continue and a great fire devastated the area.


THE GERMAN CEMETERY

Location: see the route here
Free admission.

It's located in Caira (5 km away from Cassino). You will have to pay attention to the landscape, on the left you will see a grove of cypress trees in the distance and that's where it is.

Here some pictures of the crosses you have to take.


The cemetery is very nice and very caring. It is worth the visit.






THE CEMETERY OF THE COMMONWEALTH

Location: here.
Free admission.

The Commonwealth cemetery is very close to the station. Can not miss it because it is so indicated. 





MUSEUM DI HISTORIALE CASSINO

Location: here.
Admission: 10 euros

It is required to enter with guide (guide available in English). The tour takes about half an hour through a visual tour comprised of pictures, videos and models. No exhibitions or anything like that.
It's between the station and the Commonwealth cemetery.


2 comments:

  1. I recently read a book about the Battle of Monte Cassino. What a terrible waste of life, mainly perpetrated by senior military staff out of touch with each other and out of touch with their men! They could just have landed at Anzio and eventually cut off the southern half of Italy and starved the Germans into surrender instead of sending men "over the top" at Cassino!

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  2. I recently read a book about the Battle of Monte Cassino. What a terrible waste of life, mainly perpetrated by senior military staff out of touch with each other and out of touch with their men! They could just have landed at Anzio and eventually cut off the southern half of Italy and starved the Germans into surrender instead of sending men "over the top" at Cassino!

    ReplyDelete