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Being a WWII expert in Cassino.
“Why I must choose Anna?” are you certainly asking yourself…Let’s tell you who I am…. and why I’m top rated on many websites!
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 every day to play in two fantastic green areas in the surrounding of Cassino. The first one was the Commonwealth Cemetery at Cassino, the second was the German Cemetery at Caira. We can say that I grow up between the gravestones of all these great heroes that died to make me living in a free and save country. If you don’t believe me, have a look to these old photos….
I grow up on Monte Cassino WWII Battlefield
My mother usually says that I wrote my destiny there…Then I grew up, always taking care to be very far away from my mother every time that she was planting flowers… in fact quite every time she was working in the garden, she could find a piece of bomb or a bullet…. that’s why she wanted me to be in save. At the primary school I studied that there had been battles 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.
Where the WWII expert in Cassino lives
Instead, I discovered later that the battles were four and the area of the fightings was very large. Very soon I discovered that I lived exactly in the middle of the American 36th Division Battlefield, exactly where the Rapido River makes an S and the soldiers tried to cross the River. I lived on the Allies side, having in front of me Sant’Angelo in Theodice, and on my right side the point where the BRIDGE was built, and on my left site the Bridge … My parents still live there, instead I chose to live in Aquino, on the Senger line, having a Tobruck in my garden (if you want to know that a Tobruck is ..have a look here)
About me: being a girl interested in WWII battlefield Tours
Even if I was a child, my mother brought me to all ceremonies 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 gigantic eyes in looking at their fantastic uniforms, their turbans, or dancing the Haka. The Australian Television interviewed me too, being the youngest at the Veterans’ celebrations. At that time I was already interested in WW2 Then when I was old enough to choose what to study… I chosed languages and history… and I could not stop reading about this topic any more!
My erasmus exchange program in Berlin dreaming to become a WWII expert tour guide
I studied 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 in Germany, it was still not possible to read the “Mein Kampf” and to speak freely about what had happened during Second World War. Germany was still afraid that young people could be fascinated by Hitler’s ideas.
Studing in Berlin the WWII Battlefield in Italy
So I took my degree in Languages and History at the University of Cassino.One year later I was studying again European History at the Humboldt University of Berlin in Germany, where I had my Ph.D in European History, studying the relationship between Germany, Poland, France and Britain during the Italian Campaign. 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 great, but the idea of following his “journey” along Italy was very emotional.
Dreaming to become a WWII expert tour guide and sharing things and pictures with you
I will also show you some of them during my tours. Because I read so many books on the 4 Battles of Monte Cassino, I will try to suggest you a book to prepare for our tour, depending on your interests, country, or, if possible, regiment. I read books in 5 languages…. I hope in yours too!
Studying to become a fully licensed WWII expert tour guide
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 20 years I had been working as Tour Guide in this area, and about 10 years ago, I started offering WWII BATTLEFIELD TOURS of MONTE CASSINO. I attended a high professional course hold by the Liberation Route Italy (I worked already for them in the past) in collaboration with the Lucca Tourist Guide, organized for WWII Italian tourist Guides, on the Italian Campaign and the German Defensive Lines in Italy.
From WWII battlefield expert to family roots hunter
I read hundreds of books about the war; I followed the last Veterans in the places they remembered, and I heard their personal experiences.In the last few years, customers asked me several times to help American or Canadian customers to look for their roots in Italy. I became passionate in this field too, and then in 2020 I attended a high professional course about skills and sources for Family history in Frosinone area”. The course was organized in the several local towns’ archives, and in the churches’ archives.
I will be happy to share with you the most important events of the Four Battles of 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