The US Army Italian Campaign 1943 - 1945
|During our 13 day tour, we follow General Clark's 5th Army from the beachheads of Salerno and Anzio, to the bitter fighting at the winter line, and cumulating in the liberation of Rome.
This tour is not purely about war, we have the opportunity to view the many centuries of Italian culture.
Whilst in Rome we will marvel at the splendors of ancient Roman History, from the gardens to the Historic Buildings including the Vatican.
Overnight flight from the USA via Rome to Naples.
Arrive in Naples to be met by your tour director,
transfer to hotel.
Evening reception and overview of tour.
After breakfast we drive to town of Salerno, in September 1943 the city was to become the strategic landing point in the 5th Army and from February to July 1944 it was the official seat of the Italian government. The 5th US Army under the command of Lt. General Mark Clark, which included the US Army 36th, 45th & 3rd Infantry Divisions. Their landing beaches were to the south of Salerno. The 36th Division (National Guard drawn mainly from Texas) had to contest every foot of the way from the shore inland, against murderous German fire, from defenses left intact by the absence of any preliminary bombardment.
On our return to Naples we will take an excursion to Mount Versuvius and at the crater receive a guided tour.
Second night in Naples.
Today we will spend in and around Naples, including tours of the underground passages that are rich in graffiti, testifying to their use as air-raid shelters during the war. Onto the harbor with its Maschio Angioino Castle. Finally to the Filangieri Civic Museum with its fine collection of World War arms and other military items.
Third night in Naples.
Leaving Naples this morning we drive towards Gaeta, stopping first at Cassino. This town suffered massive destruction after being besieged for weeks. On the 15 March 1944, Cassino was literally raised to the ground after one of the most concentrated artillery bombardments of the war. Meeting with a local guide we continue up to the Montecassino Abbey, which overlooks the town of Cassino. Founded by St. Benedict in 529AD it witnessed a rain of destruction when eventually the Allies agreed to aerial bombardment of a determined defense by German paratroopers. After the war it was rebuilt to the original design with great details. One of the highlights of our trip undoubtedly.
Crossing the Garigliano River, which marked the winter line of 1943/44 between the Germans and the Allies, we drive the spectacular coast road to Formia and Gaeta.
Hotel tonight in Gaeta.
Today very much depends on the weather conditions. After your exertions of the previous few days, you have an opportunity to unwind as we take you by boat to the island of Ponza, the largest of the Pontine islands. Here we will have time to follow our guide as we go back in time nearly to the Roman period. After a typical local lunch we complete our visit to the house where Mussolini was imprisoned.
Second night in Gaeta.
Departing Gaeta this morning after breakfast, we continue to follow the coastal Via Flacca route, are first stop is at Terracina. A major stronghold of the Dora Linea (Hitler Line) which ran down from Pico (Frosinone). Following repeated bombardment it was liberated on 23 May 1944 by US troops after numerous bloody battles on the surrounding hills and even in the local cemetery. A major action as the capture of Pico opened the way forward to support the landings at Anzio. This ancient Roman town has the remains of the Jupiter Anxur template located on the top of a hill that
dominates the whole Gaeta gulf.
Tonight our hotel is in Sermoneta.
This morning we drive via the Appia and after crossing the Pontine plain we arrive at Latina (during the war the town was known as Littoria, founded in 1932 by Mussolini when the marshes were reclaimed, it became the capital of the new province of Littoria. Latina is perhaps the best example of fascist urban architecture.
The town was a vital supply and service center, the Germans defending this area, constructed strong defenses after the landing at Anzio.
The US 3rd Division was near Borgo Montello formerly Conca La Ferriere. Returning towards Sermoneta we stop at Piana della Orma, a museum park which features country life before and after the reclamation of the marshes.
Two notable relics of the war, are the US fighter 'Skipper' recovered from the sea and the Lyra 35, The large Fairchild C 119 aircraft.
Second night in Sermoneta.
At the nearby town of Cisterna di Littoria (today Cisterna di Latina), the German defenses were at their strongest because of the major road and railway junctions, which met here. The underground caves were not only used by the local inhabitants but by the German defenders as the town was reduced to rubble. Finally liberated on 25 May 1944, it is twinned with Fort Smith (Arkansas) in memory of the US Rangers who fought there.
Crossing the via Nettumense we reach Anzio and Nettuno (during the war known jointly as Nettunia, the place chosen for 'Operation Shingle' the code name for the 22 January 1944 landings behind the German lines. The landings were an attempt to create a diversion to assist in taking of the strongly defended Gustav Line, running from Cassino to the Garigliano River. The US military cemetery in Nettuno has the graves of 7,862 servicemen, we will pay our respects.
Before leaving we visit the small museum dedicated to the Allied landings.
Third night in Sermoneta.
Today we follow the 5th Army as it fought its way north towards the eternal city, Rome. Rome had been declared an open city and on 4 June 1944 the lead elements entered to a rapturous welcome from the inhabitants. After lunch a guided tour will take us to the Venezia Palace (from this balcony Mussolini declared war), the Via Tasso Museum, with the displays showing the liberation of Rome.
Hotel tonight in Rome.
Today is a chance for you to relax, shop or just visit on your own OR come with us as we continue our sight seeing trip to include major monuments and architectural triumphs. Second night in Rome with a "arrivederci" dinner as a group.
Transfer to Rome airport for the return flight to North America.