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Description

On the “Bloody river”, where the U.S. Army lost about 2,000 soldiers in two days and two nights. On the “Hangman's Hill”, where Nepalese Gurkhas remained for nine days, surrounded by Germans, and where carrier pigeons refused to fly by night to save them. Along the “Cavendish road”, where 40 Allied tanks climbed a mountain, taking the Germans by surprise. On the “Hill 593”, known as “the Calvary”, where bear-soldier Wojtek helped the Polish carrying ammunition trunks and where - since that May 1944 - “Montecassino poppies are red of Polish blood”. On the mounts (with dinosaur footprints), where Moroccans committed multiple rapes (the “marocchinate”, as the victims were called in the movie “Two Women”). On the Rio Chiaro, where Germans massacred the old men, women and children. On the beaches where the landing at Anzio-Nettuno ran aground, and the story of Angelita started…
Through the navigator on your smartphone or tablet, and by using original and geo-localized pictures, the “Montecassino and Gustav Line” App leads you south of Rome, in southern Lazio, among the natural parks of regions Lazio, Abruzzo and Molise, the Aurunci mountains, Montecassino and the Liri Valley, which is dominated by the abbey founded by St. Benedict, “patron of Europe”. The monastery was destroyed on February 15, 1944 and later rebuilt “how it was and where it was”.
In other words, the App leads to the crucial places of the battle of Cassino, also known as the battle for Rome, one of the longest and bloodiest of World War II. For five months it involved soldiers of over 20 different nationalities and had its most conspicuous and controversial moment in the bombing of the abbey – a “tragic mistake” made by the Anglo-Americans, for which Germans too were responsible.
Every geo-localized place (there are over one hundred) has a history that the App reports, following three paths. The first one regards the war, as it is testified by ruins, fortifications, museums and, above all, the 70,000 white headstones in the military cemeteries, aligned in green fields (British, American and French soldiers) or on rocks (Italians and Polish), or on a terraced hill (Germans). All of them still have a mission: in fact, as Nobel Peace Prize winner Albert Schweitzer wrote, “war cemeteries are the greatest peace preachers”.
There is also a path on culture. It is based on the Archive, the Library and the Museum of the abbey, where many of the treasures saved from the destruction of the war are exhibited. These include a parchment with the first sentence preluding the Italian language (“Sao ko kelle terre…”), codes and chorales – beautiful manuscripts by medieval scribes – and the smallest books in the world. The cultural path also comprises the archeological sites and the museums along former via Latina and via Appia.
Thirdly, there is a path on landscapes. It leads to the sources of the Gari River (which are among the most copious in Europe), the plane tree dated 1700 (the only one plant that survived the hell of the bombings), the Varroniane Thermal Baths (where Marco Antonio used to “guzzle”, according to Cicero) or Garigliano’s mouth, “the river of the four battles”.
Furthermore, many curiosities are reported and shown, including the staircase where crow Nico’, that survived the raids, used to hop; the unexploded bomb near the urn with St. Benedict and his sister St. Scholastica’s remains; the war fought with stones, when ammunitions run out; the rocks used by young Romans to play Tris…
The App also offers a series of services, recommending the most authoritative books, the most useful websites (to which one could connect directly via smartphone or tablet) and the most interesting, historical videos on Montecassino and the landing at Anzio.
Suggestions on “Where to sleep” and “Where to eat” complete the features and the usefulness of this innovative, multimedia guide, the first App in the world about “Montecassino and Gustav Line”.

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