Our morning started similar to every morning here: with chocolate croissants and cappuccinos. My sister Zoe would love it 😉.
Caterina drove us about an hour from Gallo Matese to Cassino. We are staying in Cassino tonight because we must catch the train at 5:30 AM to make it to the airport in Rome in time for our flight.
Giovanni and Caterina made all our arrangements for us. They found the hotel, made sure they could get us to the train station in the morning/middle of the night 😱 and also arranged transportation to see the Abbey and other sights on Monte (Mount) Cassino. Rosa assured us that people here should be able to speak English. Haha. Well, we’re managing. And again I’m loving it. Although, the Italian dictionary for traveling does not include words like battlefield so trying to tell the driver we want to see the sights from WWII is a bit difficult.
We stumbled upon a great lunch spot – an Italian deli right next to our hotel! I spotted it from the window of our room. Josh started using the translator on his phone to talk to the guy behind the counter. Josh speaks into his phone “Do you have a menu?” and the phone says it in Italian. The guy behind the counter smiles and answers, “No.” Then, Josh says into his phone “I love technology.” Before the phone can even translate the other guy responds “I hate technology” in English. Papa Mike and I busted out laughing, and Josh just smiled his well-I-feel-silly-smile.
So, thankfully we ordered lunch easier than we checked into our hotel which involved about 7 people all speaking different levels of English and Italian.
My sandwich was simply prosciutto, fresh buffalo mozzarella, and sweet tomatoes on a chewy, crusty white bread. I had no problem finishing a meal this time. We also finally found the provolone that Michael has been looking for! It’s not like provolone we have in the states. It’s a harder, stronger cheese and by some miracle we found it on our last day here.
After lunch a driver from the hotel took us up to see the Abbey which is like a massive palace and has an amazing view. What I didn’t expect was the inside of the church. Decadent is the word that comes to mind. We sat down and I tried to absorb it all until Josh said, “All of the little figurines are kind of freaking me out. There are so many!” There were cherubs or cherub faces in every part of the decor. I had to count them…
- I counted 268 cherubs and I’m sure I missed some! I would think I had spotted all of them and then more would pop out at me!
The last place we went was the English cemetery. Monte Cassino was a major battleground in World War II and 50,000 men lost their lives fighting for the Allies here. Seeing the ages (19, 20, 24) on the gravestones of men so young was a sobering experience.
We ended our day with dinner at our hotel and they kept bringing out things we didn’t order and saying it was a gift. I have no idea why, but they were VERY accommodating. Free driver to take us wherever we wanted, free soup, free desserts, free shuttle to the train station at 4:15 AM. All wonderful. But I’m a bit perplexed :)
Overall, this trip has been amazing! I’m so grateful to everyone who made it happen. Papa Mike for bringing us over, Mama Karla for taking care of G, and Mom & Vernon (and Zoe) for taking care of the little man. I love you all! Grazie!
Arrivederci Italia! Until next time!