At ItalyIndeed one of our aims is to share the fascinating history of our region through our Culture, History and Archaeology Tours. With ItalyIndeed you can stand in the shoreline grotto in Sperlonga where the Emperor Tiberius once lavishly entertained his guests and then enjoy yourself – rather more humbly – a friendly, rustic dining experience in the very house where D.H.Lawrence wrote ‘The Lost Girl’. Our land is wreathed in countless tales that reach out to us today through remnant and ruin, monument and memory. One such story is that of Wojtek, whose name means ‘one who enjoys war’ or ‘joyful warrior’. Wojtek was a Syrian Brown Bear born in Iran in 1942 and left alone to die after his mother was shot by hunters. Wojtek was saved however when he was adopted by soldiers of the Polish II Corps.
Over the next few months Wojtek travelled across the Middle East before eventually seeing action as a serving member of the Polish forces that fought in the Italian Campaign. Carrying ammunition to frontline troops, Wojtek distinguished himself at the Battle of Monte Cassino, never dropping even a single crate. Such was Wojtek’s popularity that an image of a bear carrying an artillery shell became the official emblem of 22nd Artillery Supply Company. Away from the battlefront, Wojtek enjoyed the occasional beer and cigarette with his comrades with whom, after the war, he travelled to Scotland. By 1947 Wojtek found himself in Edinburgh Zoo where he died in 1963 at the age of 21. The remarkable story of Wojtek is of course, set against the epic and ferocious struggle which happened here during the first months of 1944. With ItalyIndeed you can experience the breathtaking views from the world-famous Abbey of Monte Cassino, be moved by the sombre power of various nations’ military cemeteries and see at The Winterline Museum what day-to-day life was like for the soldiers, (and one bear), at that time.