Saturday, October 17, 2015

Monte Cassino

We left Venice, came home for a day to gather up our clothes, and then headed down to Puglia. We stopped at Cassino about 80 miles south east of Rome. Monte Cassino is the home of the Benedictine monastery. Benedict built it around 529. Then it was burned, then it had a major earth quake in the 1300's, sacked by Napoleon in 1800 and then the Allies bombed it in WWII. Talk about a phoenix. We were all in awe of the monestary, its art and its history. This should be a major tourist site it is that impressive.

It is definitely worth taking a few minutes and reading about the history of this place. The restoration process that the people went through to get the monestary rebuilt after the war is astonishing. A very sad episode of WWII and shows the impossible damned if you do and damned if you don't situations in war. In addition, it was later learned that the bombing was done by mistake. A translation error.

In spite of what the Allies believed, there were no Germans hiding in the monestary, only about 250 local Italians who had gone to the monestary to take refuge. Heartbreaking. It was a German officer who helped save the art treasures from the monastery. He got the abbot to agree to ship them to the Vatican. There was one truck that went to Germany, but I believe most if not all of the art treasures were recoverd after the war.They are now beautifully displayed in the museum.

The entrance way into the monastery.

Standing at the Polish cemetery, and looking back up at the monestary perched on the hill.

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