Rome – Cassino – Pontecorvo – Melfa River – Pofi – Colfilece Guardiagrele – San Domenico – Ortona – Moro River– Ancona Gradara – Rimini – Argenta Gap – Villanova – Ravenna Montecchio – Tavullia – Coriano Ridge – Cesena – Venice
May 20 – June 1, 2019 (13 days)
Or May 17 – 22, 2019 (16 days) with Optional Pre-Tour To Sicily
Marking the 75th Anniversary of the Battle of Melfa River with a tour honouring the Westminster Regiment's actions in Italy.
Departure from Canada for Italy.
After arrival in Rome check in and dine.
Rome © Sandro Bedessi, Fototeca ENIT
We start today visiting Rome's most famous war monument, dedicated to the former king Vittorio Emanuele this massive altar dominates the Piazza Venezia in the centre of the city. We will also see the iconic sites of the Eternal City as we visit St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican, and enjoy a panoramic tour to see the Colosseum, Forum Romanum, Piazza Navona and other famous monuments. There is time for lunch in town. Later in the afternoon we drive to Cassino, where we meet up with the travelers from the Sicily pre-tour for dinner.
Piazza Navona, Rome © Sandro Bedessi, Fototeca ENIT
This morning we visit the Cassino Commonwealth War Cemetery, the largest Commonwealth cemetery in Italy. Then we take the spectacular drive up to the historic abbey of Monte Cassino overlooking the Liri Valley, which was captured by Allies in a Polish-led initiative May 17-18, 1944. We'll make some special stops in the surrounding areas, including visits to the Polish and German Cemeteries nearby.
Cassino Commonwealth War Cemetery
Cassino ruins, 1950 @ WW2Radio
Today we take part in commemorating the 75th Anniversary of the Melfa River Crossing where Major Jack Mahony of the Westminster Regiment was awarded the Victoria Cross. Roccasecca and the surrounding areas honour this special event and we will join the festivities. Depending on scheduling, we may follow this by touring some of the battlefields along the advance to Rome, possibly stopping at Pofi and Colfilece, villages with strong ties to our war effort in this region.
Canadian troops advancing towards the Melfa River, May 23, 1944 - Courtesy of Canada at War
This morning we tour the Adolf Hitler Line with a stop at the Canadian memorial in Pontecorvo. We will then tour the Gari River and Liri Valley region. We will also stop at the Kingsmill plaque and monument which commemorates the Breaking of the Gustav Line by Canadian tanks in May, 1944.
Personnel of the Westminster Regiment, 5th Canadian Armoured Brigade, May 26, 1944, Pontecorvo - Courtesy of Canada at War
We depart for the coast today and en route make a few stops in the villages of Guardiagrele and San Domenico, where the Westminsters joined the Italian Campaign. After lunch in Lanciano we will reach the Adriatic Coast late afternoon, with a little time to walk along the beach or relax before dinner.
Following a visit to Ortona’s Peace Museum our local guide will conduct a walking tour of the street-fighting areas. We'll visit the beautiful Church of San Tomaso, which houses the bones of St. Thomas the Apostle, and the Church of Santa Maria di Constantinopoli where the Seaforths famously contrived to hold Christmas dinner in 1943. We will have a brief ceremony at Moro River War Cemetery before returning to our hotel for the evening, driving past Casa Berardi and Sterlin Castle along the way.
Canadian Armour passing through Ortona by Charles Comfort - Courtesy of Canadian War Museum
We'll make an earlier start in order to briefly visit Ancona War Cemetery before proceeding North along the Adriatic Coast. We'll stop also at Gradara Cemetery before checking in at Rimini, in time for a stroll on the beach before dinner.
Tiberius Bridge, Rimini © P. Canali, Sime, Photononstop
This morning we travel north to visit the Argenta Gap Cemetery before stopping in Villanova, where the Regiment fought bloody battles to cross the Lamone River and Naviglio Canal in November and December, 1944. We will meet with locals as we visit sites around Bagnacavallo area, and stop at Ravenna Cemetery. As we drive through the Ronco River area held by the regiment, we will encounter the villages where they were stationed, such as Gambellara and San Pietro in Vincoli. The regiment met bitter resistance in the region but held and forced the line back.
Churchill tanks during the advance of 56th Division near Argenta, April 17, 1945
Today we visit the battlefields of the Gothic Line, broken by the Canadians August – September, 1944. The tour begins with a visit to Montecchio Cemetery and Hill 204 with a stop at Tavullia before travelling to Coriano Ridge Commonwealth Cemetery, and through San Martino as we learn about the Battle of San Fortunato Ridge. We return to the hotel with time to visit the beautiful beaches of Rimini or to do some shopping.
Coriano Ridge Commonwealth War Cemetery
After breakfast we drive North and stop at Cesena War Cemetery. Departing then for Venice, we'll take a water taxi into the city centre and enjoy the fascinating area around Piazza San Marco and the Basilica. Afterwards we check into the hotel and enjoy our farewell dinner.
Bridge of Sighs, Venice
This morning we transfer to the airport for our flight home, where we arrive the same day.