Streetwise Professor

June 21, 2009

There’s So Damn Much of It

Filed under: Military — The Professor @ 3:08 pm

History, that is.  And especially in Italy.  My trip there is winding down.  In a 24 hour period, I saw amazing Greek ruins c. 500BC in Paestum (where the “new” stuff dates from 273 BC, and the “really new” stuff is from the time of Augustus, 1st century AD); the ruins of the castle in Roccasecca where Thomas Aquinas was born (the castle was that of the Aquino family); and the areas of the battles around Monte Cassino (including San Pietro, the scene of John Huston’s moving film).  Too much to get one’s head around, really.  So much to see in the world, so little time.

San Pietro was especially haunting.  Many villagers were killed during the battle, and the returning survivors rebuilt the town further down the hill, leaving the battered ruins of the old town as a monument to their townsmen, and the Americans who died capturing it.  There is a monument to the 36th “Texas” Division there as well.  Also visited the site of the 36th’s attack on the Gari River (often misnamed the “Battle of the Rapido”).  Also very sad.  It was a forlorn hope.  To the Germans, the sites of the river crossings were like shooting galleries.  

Quite a powerful experience.  

Our luck was in on the trip.  We left Sorrento a day early (never to return again–what a nightmare).  Today, when we were supposed to leave, the area was struck by a freak hailstorm that buried some cars under masses of huge hailstones.  If we had left on schedule, no doubt our rental car would have been heavily damaged, and we wouldn’t have been able to see Cassino.

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