"Why I must choose Anna?" are you certenly asking yourself...
Let's start to tell you who I am....
I'm Anna, I was born in Cassino 45 year ago, and I grow up here. Because of at the time there weren't any parks for children in the town centre, my mother brought me quite everiday to play in two fantastic green areas in the surrounding of Cassino. The first one was the Commonwealt Cemetery at Cassino, the second was the German Cemetery at Caira. We can say that I grow up between the gravestones of all this great heroes that died to make me living in a free and save country.
If you don't believe me have a look to this old photos....
My mother usually says that my destiny was written at the time...
Then I grew up, always taking care to be very far away from my mother everytime that she was planting flowers... infact quite everytime she was working in the garden, she was able to find a piece of bomb or a munition.... that's why she wanted me to be in save. At the elementary school I studied that there had been fightings in my area, but because of in Italy students study the BATTLE of MONTECASSINO, I believed that the battle was only one, and only on the slope of the Monastery hill. Istead I discovered later that the area of the four battles was very large and I lived exactly in the middle of the American 36 Division Battlefield, exactly were the Rapido River makes an S and the Soldiers tried to cross the River.
Even if I was a child, my mother brought me to all cerimonies we had in the past, and I met and spoke with veterans coming from all over the world. They saw a very young girl with big eyes in looking at their fantastic uniforms, their turbants, or dancing the Haka. The Australian Television interviewed me too, being the youngest at the Veterans' celebrations.
Then when I was old enough to choose what to study... I choosed languages and history... and I could not stop reading any more!
I decided to study 2 years long as an Erasmus Student at the Humboldt University of Berlin in Germany, so that I could study some documents on the Axis point of view. But in 2001 it was still not possible to read the "Mein Kamf" and to speak freely about what had happened during Second World War. Germany was still afraid that young peolple could be fascinated by Hitler's ideas.
So I took my degree in Languages and History at the University of Cassino.
One year later I was studing again European History at the Humboldt University of Berlin in Germany, were I had my Ph.D in European History, studing the relationship between Germany, Poland, France and Britain during the Italian Campain. During the discussion of my research i could show the photos I received as a present, by a Kiwi veteran, that landed in Italy in Puglia and fought all along Italy untill he arrived to Trieste. The quality of the photos was not so grat, but the idea of following his "journey" along Italy was very emotional. I will also show you some of them during my tour. Because of I read so many books on the 4 Battles of Monte Cassino, I will try to suggest you a book in preparation for our tour, depending on your interests, country, or, if possible, reggiment. I read books in 5 languages.... I hope in yours too!
I became a Fully licensed Tour guide, certified by the Italian National Tourist Board in 5 languages: Italian, English, German, Spanish and French
In the last 17 years I had been working as Tour Guide in this area, and about 10 years ago, I decided to start offering WW2 BATTLEFIELD TOURS of MONTE CASSINO.
I read hundreds books about the war, I followed the last Veterans in the places they remembered, and I heard their personal experiences.
I will be happy to share with you the most important events of the Four Battles on Cassino, but also the personal Veterans' stories, remembering that memory is important for our future!
If you want to see more pictures on my experience, follow me on Instagram @75th_anniv_montecassino_tour
Dr. Anna Maria Priora PH.D
WW2 Monte Cassino Battlefield expert, researcher and tour guide