One of our most remarkable sites is the abbey of Monte Cassino (or Montecassino), renowned as the place where St Benedict established his now world-famous order in around 529AD. What many visitors do not realize is that the abbey was subject to almost total destruction during the Battle of Monte Cassino, which raged during the first months of 1944. Due to intelligence reports and its’ strategic location, the Allies believed the abbey to be occupied by German troops. Commander-in-Chief Allied Armies in Italy, Sir Harold Alexander, ordered the bombing of the abbey. With terrible effectiveness, Allied bombers reduced the abbey to rubble. In the end it turned out that the intelligence reports had been mistaken, there were no Germans within the abbey and the only people killed were 230 Italian civilians who had taken shelter to escape the fighting elsewhere.
At ItalyIndeed we are justly proud and privileged to share the rich history of our region with our guests. It is a history that stretches back to the grandeur of the Roman Empire and beyond, to pre-Roman peoples and into the mists of prehistory. Just as fascinating as the splendours of Ancient Rome is the turbulent recent story of our nation from the eighteenth century to today. One of the most spectacular monuments of this era is the Royal Palace of Caserta, one of the many spellbinding attractions of our Culture, History and Archaeology and City and Site excursions tours. Built for the Bourbon kings of Naples, in 1997 UNESCO designated it a World Heritage Site, describing it as ‘the swan song of the spectacular art of the Baroque’.