Have absolutely no idea how I found this place navigating these roads with these totally insane drivers! Sweated a bit over the last few days looking on google maps on how to find the place, then somehow I just fluked it and ended up outside the place.
The last 2 days in Monte Cassino were simply incredible! I arrived in Rome at about 11am on Saturday. Found the rental car place and jumped on the road. Was given a new Renault car, smallish but quick and economical(diesel). Somehow I navigated my way to the town of Cassino in an hour and a half. After another 15 minutes trying to find my hotel I checked in and found my room had an perfect view of Monte Cassino!
I went for a quick wander round town and everybody was having their afternoon sleep! Almost everything was shut! I managed to find a fruit store where I bought 6 of the biggest and juiciest Nectarines of my life and a melon for 6 Euro.
Then found a cafe and somehow ordered some chicken filled panini thing which was brilliant.
Then went back to the hotel and sat in the air con room as 37degree heat wasn't to my liking! Sat down in the chair in the room and just looked at the abbey. Pretty amazing to think Grandad looked up at the same place almost 65 years ago. It is a very very imposing sight and I coul have looked at it for hours. Then at night it's lit up which is even more impressive. It was suicidal for the allies to try take that!
The next day I got up and ventured up. The drive up was amazing! Took my camera and wandered in, free entry which is cool, though not all of the abbey is open to the public. Looking down on the valley and town of Cassino you see how good a vantage point it was for the Germans. I could even see the train station that the Kiwi's had captured. They were well in the thick of the action in this area. I wandered around a bit and ended up in the Chapel where a mass was taking place. It was incredible!! So I joined in and went up to communion and all, being the Catholic boy. After the mass finished I just sat there for half an hour thinking.
I spent about two hours up there then went for a little drive. I came across the Commonwealth War Graves so I parked up and went in. I have never sen so many crosses. From British to Canadian's to Indian to Australian and Kiwi's. I came across the New Zealand section, I counted 280 odd NZ crosses, many of which were from the NZ 2nd Armoured Division. I sat down amongst the crosses in the shade for 30 mins or so. Looking at the crosses, some had recieved visits from relatives and had little things like poppies or photos on them, though many were bare.
After there,I went to the war museum and had the tour which was ok. Didn't really have a lot to it. Then decided I was in dire need of food and my food senses kicked in and I found a Mcdonalds. Hard to believe I was sitting down having McDonalds in the scene of one of the bloodiest battles ofthe 2nd world war!!
Went back to the hotel and jus relaxed watching my movies and had an early night.
Got up this morning said goodbye to Cassino and here I am.
Monte Cassino is well worth checking out!!