The Italian Campaign Tour

We make this wide encircling movement in the Mediterranean, having for its primary object the recovery of the command of that vital sea, but also having for its object the exposure of the underbelly of the Axis, especially Italy, to heavy attack.

– Winston Churchill

Winston Churchill called Italy, the “soft underbelly,” of Europe, but the 5th Army as commanded by General Mark Clark found the campaign for Italy anything but “soft.” It was literally and figuratively an uphill struggle pitched against one of the most competent commanders in the German war machine, Field Marshal Albert Kesserling.

Sometimes referred to as “the Forgotten Campaign,” the Allied effort in Italy that we cover on The Italian Campaign Tour was actually of terrific significance. As historians have noted, the campaign became a proving ground for Allied capabilities on sea, land, and in the air. Amphibious landings with Higgins crafts on the beaches of Italy provided crucial training for the Normandy invasion. Proceeding to fight and push the Germans north, the Allied forces in Italy created another front for Hitler, dividing his defense of the Reich. After the 15th Air Force established its bases in Italy, the Allies destroyed 6,282 enemy aircraft in the air and on the ground.

 

Highlights

  • Sorrento, Paestum - Start with a study of operations near Sorrento where the 36th Division established a beachhead.  Nearby we tour Paestum, the ancient Greek coastal ruins dating to 650 B.C.
  • San Pietro - Visit the old mountainside village of San Pietro, scene of a fierce armored infantry battle and the caves where the civilians were forced to live.
  • Monte Cassino - Monte Cassino and the tremendous siege the Allies conducted between January and May 1944. Also the abbey completely rebuilt and restored after the destructive bombing.
  • American Cemetery Nettuno - We pay our respects at the American Cemetery in Nettuno and the Museum of the Allied Landing.
  • Cisterna - On the way to Rome we visit the Crypt and War Memorial at Cisterna.
  • Rome - We complete the week with a tour of the ancient capital of the Roman Empire and offer an optional post-tour to Florence.

Day-By-Day Itinerary

Day 1 Flight

Flight from city of origin to Fiumicino Airport, Rome.

DAY 2 Paestum

After landing in Rome, the group will travel by luxury motorcoach to Paestum. In the evening we will have dinner and our historian will provide an introduction and briefing on what to expect during the tour.

DAY 3 Sorrento

We begin the day at the beaches near Paestum on the Gulf of Salerno. Here is where the 36th Division came ashore in September 1943. We will visit the 36th Division Monument and its surrounding park that have been restored over the past several years before we proceed to the ruins.

The ancient Greeks came to this area around 650 BCE and settled there after viewing the wide-open beaches, the scenic beauty and the potential of the fertile land. Later, we will cross the Sele Bridge on our drive to Maiori (on the left flank of the invasion). By the end of the day, we will climb the precipitous Chiunzi Pass where the Rangers crossed and held as a strategic position for moving across the Sorrento Peninsula. We return to the Sorrento hotel for the evening.

DAY 4 Sorrento

The group will take the ferry across to the verdant, flower strewn Isle of Capri. Medieval churches, villas, scenic walks and pleasant cafes are just part of the appeal. As options you can choose to take a short trip to the ancient ruins of Pompeii, buried by the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in 79AD, or just enjoy the charming town of Sorrento. We will return to Sorrento for the night.

DAY 5 Cassino

We depart Sorrento after breakfast, heading to Cassino on the Appian Way and travel through the Mignano Pass to the Mount Lungo Museum. Monte Cassino, San Pietro, and Monte Lungo formed the defensive line dominating the approach to the Liri Valley. We will visit the ruins of the old village of San Pietro above the modern town, and review the destruction, troop actions and the German scorched earth policy of the battle that took place.

DAY 6 Anzio

After breakfast, we will visit the Abbey of Monte Cassino. The Abbey has been destroyed several times since its founding in the 6th Century by St. Benedict. The most severe damage came at the Battle of Cassino in May 1944. After the Allies had taken Naples, the Germans made Cassino the key stronghold in the system of defenses guarding the approaches to Rome. On May 17, the Allies launched their final assault, with the Polish corps as the spearhead. After a raging battle, the Germans abandoned Cassino on the following day. This allowed the Allies to join forces, and opened the road to Rome. After the war the abbey was rebuilt according to the original designs.

After this visit we will head to the Polish and German cemeteries. Well continue with a scenic tour along the Rapido and Liri Rivers on the old highway. The end of the day will find us enjoying a wonderful dinner and overnight stay in Anzio.

DAY 7 Anzio

This morning we go to Nettuno, where, along with Anzio, the American troops landed in January 1944. We will visit the Museo dello Sbarco Alleato (Museum of the Allied Landing). We then make a pilgrimage to the invasion beaches and the U.S. Cemetery, where 7862 Americans are buried. We will overnight in Anzio.

DAY 8 Rome

Our group will depart for Rome in the morning and visit Cisterna along the way. Upon arrival, we will visit the Crypt and War Memorial at this site, which was a German victory and setback for the Rangers. We then go on to Rome for dinner and our hotel.

DAY 9 Rome

We will begin the day with a 4-hour city tour with a local guide. Among the sites are the Coliseum, Pantheon, Forum, Trevi Fountain and Vatican City. Participants will have free time in the afternoon. Our final dinner together will be this evening, where we can review the Italian Campaign and say Ciao to all our new friends.

DAY 10 Home

Transfer to Fiumicino Airport.

DAY 11 Post-tour Option – Florence

For those of you who select the post tour option, we have a wonderful exploration of two Tuscan cities of cultural and artistic importance: Siena and Florence.

Siena will be about a two-hour drive after breakfast. Surrounded by olive groves and vineyards and set on three hills, Siena is drawn together by winding alleyways and cobblestone streets. The Piazza del Campo stands at its heart, and the Duomo and St. Maria della Scala serve as additional cultural landmarks. We will take a city-tour of Siena and then dine at one of the old towns premier restaurants.

After lunch, we will continue on to Florence through the scenic hills of Tuscany.

DAY 12 Post-tour Option – Florence

In the morning, our group will take a walking tour through the city that is known all over the world as the Capital of the Arts. Florence is the capital of the region of Tuscany and spreads on the banks of the Arno, between the Adriatic and the Tyrrhenian seas, almost in the middle of the Italian peninsula. It is a city that bustles with industry and craft, commerce and culture, art and science. We will visit the Academia, which features paintings by Michelangelo, as well as the Medici Chapels. The afternoon is free for personal sightseeing or shopping prior to our evening meal. Once again, we will spend the evening in Florence.

DAY 13 Post-tour Option – Florence

Your last day in Florence is free, with participants able to do as they please whether you would prefer to relax in the hotel, explore the city further, sample the local cuisine, or shop to your hearts delight!

DAY 14 Post-tour Option – Home

Transfer to Florence Airport.

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Map for The Italian Campaign Tour

Tour Dates

  • October 16 - 25, 2015 Main Tour
  • October 25 - 28, 2015 Post-tour
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TRIP COST $3,795

Price is per person for main tour based on double occupancy; for a single room add $695. Price for post-tour is $975 per person based on double occupancy; for a single room add $275.

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