Today we would be departing Rome nice and early, and heading east ... traveling across the width of Italy to the Adriatic Coast and the town of Ortona. The forecast for today is clear skies and 20C.
Here's our approximate route, and of course we would stop for a nature break along the way:
When we arrive in the Ortona area, we make several brief stops in order to give a good sense of what happened here in December 1943. The following map includes these points:
B. Moro River Valley outlook point
C. Sterlin's Castle
D. Cider Crossroads & The Gully
E. Casa Berardi
F. Ristorante Miramare
G. The beginning of our little walking tour
H. Moro River Canadian War Cemetery
I. One of the hotels where we often stay on this night
For those of you who enjoy looking around with Google Street View we are including some links below with each point of interest.
First we stop for an overall view of the geography. This is a view looking north, with the Moro River valley running in front of us in a northeast direction toward the sea. It is typical of the difficult terrain the allies must contend with as they march north along the length of Italy. [Google Street View]
Next we visit "Sterlin's Castle" and hear the story of the heroic fight that took place on this spot. Here is the house, and the plaque which commemorates the battle. Mark Zuehlke is standing in the center. [Google Street View]
Our next stop is at "Cider Crossroads," which is easy to find as we have a Sherman Tank to mark the spot! From here we walk a short distance down the street into "The Gully," which is not really something you can show on a photograph. The Gully was an ugly, deadly battle, as you will hear when we are on tour. [Google Street View]
We move onward to another famous house, "Casa Berardi," where another great battle took place. Here is a group shot from a previous tour, taken behind the house. Access to this back area for tour groups is now intermittent as the owners rent out the home as a B&B. You will also see below a photo of the small memorial to the Royal 22nd Regiment. One of their soldiers, Paul Triquet, was awarded the Victoria Cross for his leadership in this battle. He was the first of three Canadians to be awarded the VC during the Italian Campaign. We will visit all three Victoria Cross locations while on tour. [Google Street View]
It's now mid-day, and time stop for some lunch. We get the coach as close as we can to the restaurant, keeping in mind the streets are narrow and many don't have space for our big rig. It's then a short walk to Ristorante Miramare and our host, Fabio. And below is the view from out back of Fabio's establishment. [Google Street View]
Now it's time to walk a couple of the streets, with Mark Zuehlke leading us through some of the battles that took place here in December 1943. We conclude the walk at the Price of Peace monument, created by Canadian sculptor Rob Surette in 1999. [Google Street View]
Our final stop of the day is at the Moro River Canadian War Cemetery, the final resting place of those who fell in the Battle of Ortona and in the weeks before and after. [Google Street View]
We conclude the day at our hotel, usually just up the road from Ortona along the beach but sometimes just a bit further north in the town of Francavilla. And that's it for today. You have now visited Ortona, one of the most famous battle sites for Canada in WWII and the most famous of the Italian Campaign. If you wanted to know more about it, we would highly recommend Mark Zuehlke's book Ortona, a gripping read.
Check back tomorrow as we venture further north.