After 3 days in Rome, the visit to Monte Cassino was a welcome pleasure. My father fought in Cassino in WW2 and spoke passionately about the town, the people, the Abbey and his friends that remained here having lost their lives. After so many of his stories, it became almost a pilgrimage for me. I expected a lot from my visit and it exceeded everything I could have ever imagined.
Monte Cassino dominated the landscape for many miles around and its easy to see why this was such a strategic wartime position. We arrived early on a beautiful sunny morning, and my advice is to do the same, before the flocks of coach tours descend.
What stunned me straight away was the total tranquility of the place. It was like walking into a different world, as the peacefulness washed over me. It was an incredible feeling and one that I have never before experienced. The building itself is dramatic, with much of the lower part of the building recovered and restored. Some parts of the building are from the original abbey before it was destroyed in WW2. Outside, the gardens are so beautiful and so quiet. Again, the total serenity seems to have a power in this place. White doves grace the gardens and compliment the beauty perfectly.
Our guide was the wonderful Danila Bracaglia, who I cannot recommend enough (find her on tripadvisor). She introduced us to a friendly Monk who radiated with passion about the building, the history and his faith. A very inspiring man.
Inside the Abbey is splendid, with wonderful artwork, sculptures, marble and guilding.
We also visited the nearby Polish cemetery which is a 'must do'. Its a very sad place but at the same time uplifting. It's location is incredible.
After Rome, this was more than a welcome break. I enjoyed my time here more than anything I did in Rome, by a long, long way. I will return for the 70 years anniversary in May 2014.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.