Monte Cassino is a monastery in Lazio, Italy, 130 km southeast of Rome. It is a rocky hill overlooking the town of Cassino. St. Benedict (see Subiaco) established his first monastery here. The monastery was constructed on the site of the pagan temple of Apollo and St. Benedict's first act was to smash the sculpture of Apollo and destroy the altar.
The Abbey at Monte Cassino
The strategic position of the monastery has always made it a target for attack. Most recently, the Battle of Monte Cassino was a costly series of four battles during World War II, fought by the Allies with the intention of breaking through the German lines and taking Rome. On 15 February the monastery was destroyed by 1,400 tons of bombs dropped by American bombers, in the belief that the abbey was being used as a lookout post by the Germans.This was not, in fact, the case but two days after the bombing, German paratroopers occupied the ruins. The defences were then assaulted four times by Allied troops before the Germans were driven out
Cassino is on the Rome to Naples railway line.
The town and abbey can also be reached by the A1 tollway (Autostrada) between Rome and Naples, exiting at Cassino.
There are very infrequent buses from the station to the monastery. Taxis are available.
- Monte Cassino Abbey, (After leaving the autostrada the monastery can be clearly seen at the top of the hill. Follow the signs.), ☎ 0776.311529 (firstname.lastname@example.org), . 8.30-12.00 and 15.30-17.00 (18.00 in summer). The Abbey is very modern, having been reconstructed after the war and thus is primarily of interest to pilgrims and to students of the war who can appreciate the battles that were fought on the surrounding hills. The museum has medieval art and artifacts from the monastery and explains the history of monasticism (only open on Sundays in winter). It also has the best views of the battlefield.
- War Graves. The Commonwealth War Graves cemetery on the western outskirts of Cassino (follow signs when approaching Cassino from the Autostrada) is a beautifully maintained area with magnificent views of the monastery. The French and Italian cemeteries are on Highway 6 in the Liri Valley. There is a very striking Polish cemetery close to the battlefield and easily visible from the monastery. The German cemetery is approximately 2 miles (3 km) north of Cassino in the Rapido Valley. American casualties are not buried here but at Nettuno-Anzio.
- Hotel La Pace, Via Abruzzi 16, 03043 Cassino (in the center of Cassino), . Inexpensive 38-room hotel that caters well to students of the war. Good restaurant. Euros 65-90 double.