"Montecassino" Outside Rome Tip by Tom_Fields
Outside Rome, Rome: 133 reviews and 186 photos
St Benedict founded the abbey of Montecassino in 529. It was sacked and burned in about 577 by the Longobards, and again around 883 by the Saracens. An earthquake destroyed it in 1349. During World War II, Allied forces were bogged down by German troops, who were well dug in on a defensive line running through the rugged mountains of southern Italy. After months of fruitless attacks, the Allies, thinking that the Abbey was being used by German artillery observers, bombed it. The rubble provided better cover and concealment than the Abbey would have. But there has never been any evidence that the Germans ever had anyone up there.
It's been beautifully and lovingly restored. One can only hope that it does not become necessary again. This is one of the true gems of southern Italy.
It's perched on a hill the offers a commanding view of the entire valley. The entrance cloister is on the site of an ancient Roman temple to Apollo. St Benedict dedicated it to St Martin, Bishop of Tours. Bramante, the next cloister, is named for the Renaissance architect who designed it. It was built in 1595. Fansago designed the 17th century Cathedral, also carefully restored to its original splendor. Finally, lest we forget, take a look at the nearby military cemetery, with the graves of Polish soldiers who died fighting for the Allies in the Italian campaign of World War II.
Visitors are asked to be quiet and respectful, to refrain from flash photography, and to dress conservatively (this is still a functioning monastery). To reach it, follow the traffic signs for the town of Cassino. From Rome or Naples, you can get there by the A1 railway.
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