We left the Amalfi coast and headed to our next stop in the Adriatic city of Cattolica. Along the way we passed through one of the most historic WWII sites in Europe, Monte Cassino.
One look at this mountain, the valley, rivers and nearby passes and you quickly understand the importance of this location. It was located on one of Hitler’s lines in the sand. The Allies suffered 55,000 casualties and the German army lost 20,000 men in the four battles for this hill. Italy lost a centuries old abbey and civilian casualties. Everyone was shocked and angered to see the devistation caused by allied bombers. American realized its mistake and funded a complete restoration. You can read about two Germans who played a key role in saving most the abbey’s contents and learn more about Monte Cassino by clicking here.
We also traveled through the longest vehicle tunnel entirely in Italy, a 6.3 mile kilometer tunnel through the Apennine Mountains. As a comparison, the Eisenhower tunnel in Colorado is just under 1.7 miles long.
The more we drive Italy, the more we appreciate their traffic engineers. They have some amazing highways, bridges and tunnels. More importantly, their highway safety design on the stradas and major roads far exceeds anything we have ever seen in America.
We had never been to the Adriatic side of Italy and had heard a lot about it, both good and bad. We wanted to check it out for ourselves. We arrived late in the afternoon and checked into the hotel. Here was our view from the patio:
We took a walk to see the town and were fascinated by the number of families who were out window shopping. There were several hundred folks downtown just walking around with their families and having a grand time. Lots of rich Russians vacation in this town.
We had our dinner right near the docks at a superb restaurant called, Oh Captain, My Captain.
We headed out first thing in the morning toward Assisi. We drove through the province of Umbria the sights were anazing. It easily ranks ahead of of at least even with Tuscany as the most beautiful countryside in Italy. It was a little smokey as many locals used the nice weather and wet soil as the perfect time to burn their water ditches and scrap branches.
Umbria is noted for their homes being constructed with pink limestone. The hilltop town of Assisi is incredible. Here are some photos of where Saint Francis grew up, formed the Franciscan order, died and is buried:
The castle on top of the mountain plays second fiddle to the churches below
Pink limestone on every structure.
This is the church where St. Francis was baptized.
This depiction of a lion eating a man represented what it was like in early times to be one of thd few believer in Christ.
Assisi is amazing!
This is the basilica where he is buried
We had a great time exploring Assisi. Now we are off to Lago de Garda and Verona.