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Benvenuti / Welcome to

Itri


Benvenuti / Welcome to

Minturno





cc BY- SA 2.0      Carole Radatto - flickr

cc BY- SA 2.0      Carole Radatto - flickr  

cc BY- SA 2.0      Carole Radatto - flickr  

The Roman Amphitheatre, which dates from the 1st century, has been totally restored and during the summer months it comes to life when used to stage open air theatrical performances and concerts.    

photo © Patrizia Esposito


cc BY- SA 2.0      Carole Radatto - flickr   


Benvenuti / Welcome to

Itri


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In  close  proximity  to  the  bridge   is   the  Minturno War  Cemetery  which is  immaculately maintained by the Commonwealth War Grave Commission.  Here lie 2,049  bodies of brave British Commonwealth  soldiers who fell during the World War II battles, as repeated attempts were made to breach the strategic German Gustav Line.  Heavy casualties were sustained when troops endeavoured to cross the wide and fast flowing Garigliano River, during the offensives of January 1944, shortly before the landings at Anzio.


photo © AC Shapcott

Closeby is the new bridge over the Garigliano, which connects Lazio with Campania.

Next to the aforementioned site of the ancient town of Minturnae is the old bridge which spans the River Garigliano, the Ponte Borbonico Real Ferdinando. The bridge was constructed at the bequest of King Ferdinand II in 1832. It was designed by engineer Luigi Jura and was suspended on iron chains, which was a great feat of engineering for that time.  Sadly it was destroyed in 1943 during the Second World War, however it was reconstructed in 1998 and is now only open to pedestrian visitors.  It is decorated with Egyptian columns and guarded by Sphinx statues.

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission - Minturno

Wiki Map showing the position of the Cemetery

The people of Minturno suffered greatly during these times of war, finding themselves under German occupation, and positioned on the very edge of the German Gustav Line. They had to endure persecution, reprisals and famine.  The local villages also endured heavy land and naval bombardments by the Allied forces which resulted in catastrophic damage, and the deaths and casualties of many innocent civilians.  Many Minturnesi were forced to flee to the mountains and surrounding countryside.  

Following long and bloody battles to cross the River Garigliano, American troops stepped in to relieve the battle weary British 5th Division in a manoeuvre named “Operation Diadem”.  The Allies managed to take Minturno and the hill top village of Santa Maria Infante. However this victory was short lived, as after more ferocious fighting the Germans succeded in reclaiming control of this area.

The allies continued to encounter stiff German resistance.  The final battle took place on the 11th May 1944 and the object was to capture the village of Santa Maria Infante.  This was to be a particularly bitter and bloody battle which lasted for sixty hours without interuption.  The village was finally liberated 0n the 14th May 1944, and this proved to be a defining moment as at long last the GUSTAV line was breached, forcing a German retreat.

The French Expeditionary Corps of Morrocan Goumiers, who were skilled in mountain warfare, continued to make their way forward over the seemingly impassable terrain of the Aurunci Mountains, while the 88th Division surged ahead, taking the seaward facing villages of Spigno Saturnia, Castellonorato, Trivio, Maranola, then on through Formia, Itri, Fondi, Monte San Biagio to Roccagorga.

Continuing northward some of the 88th Division made contact with  Allied units breaking out of the Anzio beach-head on 29th May and they were the first to enter Rome on the 4 June 1944.

Minturo,  Santa Maria Infante and other local villages had suffered severe damage during the bombardments.



Some photographs of Santa Maria Infante taken during the liberation of the village.

The town went on to be awarded the La Medaglia D'Oro Al Valor Civile :

“During the Second World War the town and its surrounding areas, located behind the Gustav Line, were the scene of harsh battles and violent bombing that caused many casualties and extensive damage. Citizens, unarmed and exhausted by deprivations, were put to the sword by the retaliation of the German army in retreat. Countless were the examples of love for the homeland and of the noble spirit of sacrifice - Minturno (LT), 1943-1944 ".

Minturno has an interesting museum, il Museo Etnografico Aurunco, which has a display of artefacts relating to local ancient traditions.   



In the early 20th century, many residents of Minturno and the surrounding villages emigrated to Stamford, Connecticut, in the USA, which is now a sister town of  Minturno.  

There is also another community of Minturno emigrants in Woodbridge, Toronto, Canada.

Next - Minturno (page 10)


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Benvenuti / Welcome to

Minturno

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