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Italy Q&A: Battlefields of the Liri Valley

This addition to the Italy Q&A posts is an interesting one. In it, James wrote:

I am a high school teacher in Canada. I have been taking students to Italy every second year since 1997. I have developed a course titled “Cultural Tourism”. Students study the art, the architecture, the culture and the language prior to the trip. Students are currently learning basic Italian in preparation for the March 2009 trip.

On our last trip we visited Cassino War Cemetery. We placed flags at all 855 Canadian graves as well as wreaths at the 3 monuments and wreaths at 2 soldiers whose lives we had researched. This was an incredible experience for us as teachers but even more so for the students. They were astonished that so many soldiers buried there were not much older and in some cases their age.

The purpose of my email is to ask for help in finding information on self guided tours of the battle fields in the Liri Valley, especially around Pontecorvo and Aquino. This is the area where the 2 soldiers whom we have researched died May 1943. We cannot afford to pay a guide to lead us we will have a bus and would like to find some old fortifications in this region.

I have to say first of all, James, that by making these trips to Italy about more than just museums and architecture I’ll bet you’re really making them even more memorable experiences for your students. And on top of that, you’re helping to teach them about the cold realities of war, which can be tough to do.

As for your specific question about self-guided tours of the Liri Valley battlefields, I have to say that’s a bit of a conundrum. I don’t know the area myself, so I can’t write up a self-guided tour for you, unfortunately. I did find a few websites that make mention of the battlefields in the Liri Valley, however, and some of them have contact information which might get you more detailed answers, too.

  • This is the official site for the town of Aquino – it’s all in Italian, but there’s an email address for the city museum. Click on the left-hand menu link that says, “Il Museo della Città” and you’ll find an email address. There’s no telling if you’ll get a reply, but it never hurts to ask for information!
  • This is the official site for the town of Pontecorvo – it’s not loading for me as I’m writing this, so I don’t know if there’s something permanently wrong or it’s just a temporary glitch. As an alternative, here’s a site (in English) with some information about the town, including a link to the “City Hall Email” – I’d recommend sending the same kind of note to them as you’d send to the museum in Aquino.
  • This travel diary is from 2003, and it doesn’t mention Pontecorvo or Aquino, but it’s a trip through the battlefields in the area, and there’s an email address at the top.
  • This site has simply massive amounts of information on a 2005 trip through the region, and may or may not be useful to you as it is – but there’s an email address near the bottom of the page as well.
  • This is a tour company, but I wonder if they might be willing to send you some information about the Liri Valley portion of their tour? If they were nice, they would!

I’m sorry I couldn’t be of more help, James, but I hope that’s at least a little bit of what you were looking for. Please let me know if I can help with anything else!