Italy: Day Four, Part One ~ War Memorial

As we woke from a restful sleep on day four of our incredible vacation in Italy, we only had one thing planned for this Friday, our last full day in Rome… the Colosseum Night Tour with Walks of Italy that was set to start around 9:00 p.m. We were super excited to have access to the Colosseum when it was closed to the public. But what to do until then? I hopped online and found an incredible resource (but now cannot find it!!! ugh…) which was a woman’s travel blog and had tons of off-the-beaten-track recommendations. I was researching driving to Naples which we had intended to do… rent a car for the rest of the trip. However, after being driven around in taxis and Ubers for the past few days, I was not keen on trying to drive out of Rome. One that caught our eye was the Sicily-Rome American Cemetery in Nettuno. I talked Curtis into trying the train, so I looked up tickets online, purchased them online, then away to train station we headed after having breakfast at the hotel!

Train Selfie

We took a taxi from our hotel to the train station. We felt like contestants on The Amazing Race. I had never been in a train station before and it was so loud, crowded, and overwhelming that I was a bit scared. It took me a few minutes to read the departures board and find our train. We boarded the train and no one ever came around to look at our tickets. I had a screenshot of them ready to show on my phone. I wasn’t even sure we were on the right train! The train was hot (no air conditioning) but we were so excited for this new adventure that we didn’t care.

Italy travel street photographer

iPhone 6S+

Curtis snapped this quickie of me on the train. Hi!!!

Samsung Galaxy 6

Curtis noticed a couple sitting catty-corner from him and nudged me. He was going to try to get a surreptitious shot of them. He calls it “modern lovers” because they are sharing a pair of headphones. The train made many stops at little towns and lots of young people got on and off the train.

Samsung Galaxy 6

Pigeon at the Train Station

We arrive in Nettuno in less than an hour (it’s about 30 miles from Rome). It’s a very small station, just one platform. The first thing I see is this pigeon hanging out in the lobby. There is lots of graffiti and trash around.

Italy travel street photographer

Nikon D750 | 20mm | f/2 | 1/250 | ISO 800

And Curtis got a shot of the pigeon too!

Samsung Galaxy 6

Sicily-Rome American Cemetery and Memorial

We look for a taxi to drive us to the memorial from the train station but there were none. No Uber service either. So I loaded up the map app and off we went. Yep, we walked from the station to the Sicily-Rome American Cemetery. The walk took us about 15 minutes and it was so hot, we were quite sweaty (and maybe a bit grumpy?) by the time we arrived. But then this entrance greeted us and all thoughts of selfishness went away.

THEY DIED THERE VALIANTLY AND HEROICALLY, GIVING THEIR LIVES THAT PEOPLES OF EUROPE MIGHT BE LIBERATED FROM TYRANNY. THEY REST TRANQUIL AND SECURE IN THE FRIENDLY SOIL OF ITALY. MAY OUR GREAT DEBT TO THEM, AND ALL OTHERS WHO DIED IN THE CAUSE OF FREEDOM, SERVE AS AN INSPIRATION TO ALL PEOPLES TO DEDICATE THEMSELVES TO FREEDOM AND LASTING PEACE.

—President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s message at the dedication of the Sicily-Rome American Cemetery

Italy travel street photographer

Nikon D750 | 20mm | f/6.3 | 1/400 | ISO 50

Vastness

The cemetery and memorial covers over 77 acres and more than 7800 service men and women are interred here. It’s an enormous place and very somber. The water feature is very peaceful and calming. Once Curtis and I walked onto the grounds, we didn’t talk much. We naturally wandered to the left and started making our way up the left side to the memorial building at the rear center. From the website:

Just inside the cemetery gates, straight ahead is a large elliptical reflecting pool with dimensions of 82 yards by 66 yards. The island in its center contains a cenotaph of bronze-colored travertine in the shape of a sarcophagus. It is flanked by groups of tall Italian cypress trees.

Italy travel street photographer

Nikon D750 | 20mm | f/6.3 | 1/320 | ISO 50

Curtis’s version.

Nikon D700 | 50mm | f/22 | 1/2500 | ISO 4000

The Somber Path

Both sides of the cemetery are identical in how they are laid out. To the left are the gravesites, each in five sections with lawn and pine trees separating the sections, then a long walking path, with a large expanse of a green mall in the center, then another walking path, then more gravesites on the right.

Italy travel street photographer

Nikon D750 | 20mm | f/6.3 | 1/320 | ISO 50

Our Grandparents’ Generation

The crosses are startling white atop the bright green grass, with Roman pine trees towering over them. My grandfather served in WWII as a front-line medic. He was a prisoner of war and escaped. He easily could have been one of these crosses and I would not exist.

Italy travel street photographer

Nikon D750 | 20mm | f/6.3 | 1/320 | ISO 50

Row After Row

We walked and walked, row after row of crosses, the enormity of lives lost palpable.

Italy travel street photographer

Nikon D750 | 20mm | f/6.3 | 1/320 | ISO 50

Curtis and I were mostly silent walking up this long path to the Memorial. It was a somber place. Here is one of his shots of the crosses.

Nikon D700 | 120mm | f/22 | 1/2500 | ISO 4000

Mirrored on the Other Side

About 3/4 of the way up the left side, I turned around 180-degrees and got a shot of the right side. The entire cemetery is a mirror-image on either side. It’s beautiful.

Italy travel street photographer

Nikon D750 | 20mm | f/6.3 | 1/320 | ISO 50

There were five sections of graves on each side, with a large expanse of grass in between each section. I didn’t get a shot of the break between sections, but Curtis did.

Nikon D700 | 24mm | f/22 | 1/2500 | ISO 4000

Curtis then got a close-up of one of the crosses. This one reads, “Robert G. Greggerson, Pvt 7 Inf 3 Div, Rhode Island February 26, 1944.”

Nikon D700 | 120mm | f/22 | 1/2500 | ISO 4000

Curtis walked far into the first section break and looked back toward the Memorial. What an incredible perspective. So many graves.

Nikon D700 | 65mm | f/22 | 1/2500 | ISO 4000

At the End of the Path

When we reached the end of the path on the left side, I turned back toward the entrance to get this shot. Trees flank the path and invite refuge from the hot sun.

Italy travel street photographer

Nikon D750 | 20mm | f/6.3 | 1/320 | ISO 50

The Corner

Turning to the left from the end of the path, I got this image of the left side from the corner. You can see three of the five sections of the left side of the cemetery with all of the crosses going on and on.

Italy travel street photographer

Nikon D750 | 20mm | f/6.3 | 1/320 | ISO 50

Curtis stopped just before the corner and got this diagonal view of the Memorial and one of the flagpoles.

Nikon D700 | 24mm | f/22 | 1/2500 | ISO 4000

The Memorial

Coming to the rear center of the Sicily-Rome American Cemetery, we see the Memorial building. This area is comprised of a chapel of the missing on the left, a map room on the right, with a sculpture in the center.

Italy travel street photographer

Nikon D750 | 20mm | f/6.3 | 1/320 | ISO 50

Curtis’s version.

Nikon D700 | 24mm | f/22 | 1/2500 | ISO 4000

The Mall

Turning 180-degrees from the Memorial, we see the Mall leading back to the reflecting pond at the entrance.

Italy travel street photographer

Nikon D750 | 20mm | f/6.3 | 1/320 | ISO 50

Brothers in Arms

In the center of the Memorial building is the Brothers in Arms sculpture. From the website:

The Brothers In Arms sculpture represents an American soldier arm in arm with an American sailor. The statue symbolizes the fraternity between the U.S. Army and Navy that was essential to the success of the three amphibious assaults in Italy during World War II. The two servicemembers can be distinguished via small differences in their identification tags, belt buckles, and trouser pockets. The bronze sculpture is by Paul Manship of New York. It was cast at the Battaglia Foundry in Milan.

Italy travel street photographer

Nikon D750 | 20mm | f/6.3 | 1/320 | ISO 50

Curtis got a great close-up of the statues. We both wondered why the men weren’t wearing shirts?!

Nikon D700 | 120mm | f/22 | 1/2500 | ISO 4000

In Remembrance

The Dedication Tablet adorns the Chapel of the Missing. It states:

1941 1945
IN
PROUD REMEMBRANCE
OF THE ACHIEVEMENTS
OF HER SONS
AND IN HUMBLE TRIBUTE
TO THEIR SACRIFICES
THIS MEMORIAL
HAS BEEN ERECTED BY THE
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

Italy travel street photographer

Nikon D750 | 20mm | f/5.6 | 1/320 | ISO 800

Chapel of the Missing

This chapel is dedicated to the 3,095 lives missing in action or buried at sea. Rosettes denote bodies later recovered. At the center engraved in gold:

HERE ARE RECORDED THE NAMES OF AMERICANS
WHO GAVE THEIR LIVES IN THE SERVICE OF THEIR
COUNTRY AND WHO SLEEP IN UNKNOWN GRAVES

Italy travel street photographer

Nikon D750 | 20mm | f/4 | 1/250 | ISO 2000

Chapel Panorama

A panorama of the Chapel of the Missing.

Italy travel street photographer

iPhone 6S+ | 4.2mm | f/2.2 | 1/100 | ISO 160

Peace on Earth

The altar has a three-fold marble triptych. One the left is a quote from Psalm 8:3-5; on the right is a translation of “The Greek Dead at Thermopylae” by Simonides; and in the center a carving of the archangel Michael with an inscription that states, “Peace on Earth, Good Will Among Men.”

Italy travel street photographer

Nikon D750 | 20mm | f/4 | 1/250 | ISO 2000

Spectacular Ceiling

The ceiling dome has Medieval signs of the Zodiac. From the website:

The planets Mars, Jupiter and Saturn occupy the same relative positions that they occupied at 0200 hours on January 22, 1944, the historic moment when the first American and British troops landed on the beaches of Anzio. The more important stars in each constellation are shown as points of light on the celestial dome.

Italy travel street photographer

Nikon D750 | 20mm | f/4 | 1/250 | ISO 2000

Praise Him

Inscribed around the base of the dome is the text: “O ye stars of heaven bless ye the lord praise him and magnify him forever.”

Italy travel street photographer

Nikon D750 | 20mm | f/4 | 1/250 | ISO 2000

The Army Corner

Each wall of the chapel is organized by military branch. This is the Army corner. The U.S. Army and Army Air Forces counted 2,032 among their missing; the U.S. Navy counted 1,063.

Italy travel street photographer

Nikon D750 | 20mm | f/4 | 1/250 | ISO 2000

Thompson

I don’t know if other people do this, but I look to see my last name at memorial sites. I feel something of a kinship with other Thompsons and felt the need to document those Thompsons honored here.

Italy travel street photographer

Nikon D750 | 20mm | f/3.5 | 1/250 | ISO 2000

We had many duplicate shots inside the chapel, but I love this one from Curtis. What a great perspective!

Nikon D700 | 24mm | f/4 | 1/500 | ISO 4000

Entrance and Exit

Above the only door into the chapel is the same inscription in Italian that is above the altar. We spent a long time in the Chapel of the Missing. It was a powerful place. I think as a family member, it would be incredibly difficult to not know the ultimate outcome of your loved one serving. Having someone missing must be brutal.

Italy travel street photographer

Nikon D750 | 20mm | f/3.5 | 1/250 | ISO 2000

Brothers in Arms from Behind

Leaving the Chapel of the Missing, we walked behind the Brothers in Arms sculpture to go to the Map Room on the opposite side. Walking behind the Brothers in Arms, I crouched down to get the men silhouetted against the blue sky.

Italy travel street photographer

Nikon D750 | 20mm | f/6.3 | 1/320 | ISO 50

Curtis has really developed his eye for composition. This is a wonderful shot of the Brothers in Arms statue.

Nikon D700 | 86mm | f/16 | 1/3200 | ISO 4000

Strategic Air Assaults

We entered the Map Room through bronze gates. One entire side of the room is dominated by this large map:

On the west wall are three maps – “The Capture of Sicily,” “The Strategic Air Assaults” and “The Naples-Foggia Campaign.” To aid in understanding them, the maps bear explanatory inscriptions. Beneath the maps are two sets of key maps, “The War Against Germany” and “The War Against Japan.”

Italy travel street photographer

Nikon D750 | 20mm | f/5 | 1/320 | ISO 800

The Landing at Nettuno

The other side of the room is dominated by this other large map:

On the east wall is one large map, “ The Landing at Anzio/Nettuno and the Capture of Rome.” This map portrays the landings in the vicinity of Anzio, the establishment of the Anzio beachhead, the subsequent fighting therein, the final breach of the Gustav Line on May 11, 1944 by American and Allied forces, the swift Allied advance north, the link up with troops breaking out of the Anzio beachhead, and the liberation of Rome on June 4, 1944.

Italy travel street photographer

Nikon D750 | 20mm | f/5 | 1/320 | ISO 800

In the center of the room was this map of Military Operations. I’m so glad Curtis got a shot of it. It shows a general outline of military operations in Sicily and Italy from 1943-1945.

Nikon D700 | 24mm | f/8 | 1/1250 | ISO 4000

E Pluribus Unum

A shot of the ceiling, our United States motto… “out of many, one”… and our national symbol, the bald eagle.

Italy travel street photographer

Nikon D750 | 20mm | f/5 | 1/320 | ISO 800

Curtis could zoom in more than I could… you can see a bit more detail in his version.

Nikon D700 | 46mm | f/8 | 1/1250 | ISO 4000

Map Room Door

The doors opposite the entrance lead out to an ornamental garden. You can imagine how inviting this view was after seeing so many gravesites, seeing the names of so many missing service men and women, and seeing the details of the war in the map room.

Italy travel street photographer

Nikon D750 | 20mm | f/5 | 1/320 | ISO 50

Ornamental Garden

I love the symmetry of this beautiful garden. From the website:

North of the memorial adjacent to the museum, is a more formal garden planted in parterre arrangements with beds of polyantha roses, geraniums, white oleanders, purple bougainvillea and other flowers.

Italy travel street photographer

Nikon D750 | 20mm | f/5 | 1/320 | ISO 50

Curtis is a huge fan of shooting vertical or portrait mode. He got this awesome shot of the garden.

Nikon D700 | 20mm | f/22 | 1/1250 | ISO 4000

Stars

I love the star arrangement of the flower beds. Stars and stripes symbolize America and I felt at home here on this foreign soil.

Italy travel street photographer

Nikon D750 | 20mm | f/6.3 | 1/320 | ISO 50

Curtis and the Flag

As I walked down to the ornamental garden, I stopped and looked around. I could see Curtis composing his shot of the garden and I was struck by his royal blue shirt, the blue sky, and the red, white, and blue flag flying high above his head.

Italy travel street photographer

Nikon D750 | 20mm | f/6.3 | 1/320 | ISO 50

He then turned to his side and got the flag with the sun beaming down on it. Beautiful.

Nikon D700 | 24mm | f/22 | 1/1250 | ISO 4000

Back of the Fountain

On the far side was this beautiful large fountain. It’s continual burble of noise was comforting and I spent a moment reflecting about what this place meant. From the website:

At the far end of the garden is a Baveno granite fountain consisting of a large-semi-circular bowl on a wide pedestal. It was carved from a single piece of granite quarried near the north end of Lake Maggiore. Cascades of water flow from the bowl into a low basin.

Italy travel street photographer

Nikon D750 | 20mm | f/6.3 | 1/320 | ISO 50

Curtis spent a long time behind the fountain and got several really nice shots.

Nikon D700 | 24mm | f/22 | 1/1250 | ISO 4000

Nikon D700 | 24mm | f/22 | 1/1250 | ISO 4000

Nikon D700 | 82mm | f/22 | 1/1250 | ISO 4000

Trees and Crosses

Leaving the far end of the ornamental garden, brought us to the back middle part of the first section on the right side. I really love how the pine trees are bereft of low branches and how they add to the serenity of the gravesites.

Italy travel street photographer

Nikon D750 | 20mm | f/5.6 | 1/320 | ISO 50

Curtis got this lovely image of the back of the other side.

Nikon D700 | 120mm | f/22 | 1/1250 | ISO 4000

Back of the Crosses

Since we are now on the right side facing back toward the entrance, the backs of the crosses face us. Seeing the crosses devoid of personal information made this composition eerie to me.

Italy travel street photographer

Nikon D750 | 20mm | f/5.6 | 1/320 | ISO 50

And the back of me!

Nikon D700 | 120mm | f/22 | 1/1250 | ISO 4000

Doesn’t Curtis have a great eye? I love the composition of this shot!

Nikon D700 | 65mm | f/22 | 1/1250 | ISO 4000

Pvt. Rocky Salatino

As I began leaving this area, I took a reverent moment to carefully step into that back row of crosses. I wanted to capture one name. Thank you for your service, Private Salatino.

Italy travel street photographer

Nikon D750 | 20mm | f/5.6 | 1/320 | ISO 50

Cross After Cross

We began walking back toward to entrance and since we had already gotten the same shots on the left side, we didn’t shoot much. As we neared the reflecting pool, I stopped to get one more shot of cross after cross after cross. So many lives lost and so many more affected at home.

Italy travel street photographer

Nikon D750 | 20mm | f/5.6 | 1/320 | ISO 50

We were desperate for a restroom and some air conditioning. We returned to the entrance and were relieved to find both. There was a visitor center that offered a photographic walkthrough of the Landing at Nettuno along with small video vignettes featuring a handful of the interred military members. It was so moving.

Nikon D700 | 24mm | f/5 | 1/500 | ISO 4000

Nettuno Graffiti

It was now mid-afternoon and we were damp through with sweat. Hungry, we searched Yelp for a restaurant within walking distance. Actually, all of Nettuno is walking distance! We stopped at a pizza place across from the Sicily-Rome American Cemetery, but they had no air conditioning. The next two places were closed. The next two had no air conditioning. Finally, I loaded up the Google translate app and asked, “Where can we eat lunch that is inside and air conditioned?” and we were directed to L’Officina Del Pesce, a seafood restaurant. Wow, what a place. We probably felt most out of our element in this restaurant for the whole trip. No one spoke any English and there were several families eating family style around the tables. It was dirty, very dirty. And all they served was fish. Lots and lots of fish. With my translate app, I got them to agree to give me pasta with red sauce with no fish. Curtis got an antipasti appetizer and it was small fried whole fish, eyes and all. Eww. We choked down what we could and got out of there. I begged Curtis to walk a bit further so we could see the coast… it was only a few more blocks according to the map. On the way, we walked through the deserted streets of Nettuno. We saw lots of graffiti and no tourists.

Italy travel street photographer

Nikon D750 | 20mm | f/5 | 1/200 | ISO 100

Vicolo Fraternia

This little street, Vicolo Fraternia, was just a block down from L’Officina Del Pesce. Trash littered the alley and graffiti was everywhere. It was super interesting to study the backs of the apartments and buildings though.

Italy travel street photographer

Nikon D750 | 20mm | f/9 | 1/200 | ISO 100

Curtis photographed this beat up, graffiti-covered vehicle.

Samsung Galaxy 6

Nettuno Street

Walking down this street in Nettuno on the way to see the beach, we noted how narrow the streets were and how all the shops were closed. I don’t know if they open on the weekends or if they have a tourist season, but this part of the city was deserted.

Italy travel street photographer

Nikon D750 | 20mm | f/7.1 | 1/200 | ISO 100

All Countries Welcome

Finally we arrive to the edge of Nettuno. I saw people in bathing attire and carrying beach gear heading down between two buildings, so we followed them. It looked like we were walking between a really run-down beach hotel and an apartment building. When we got down to sea level and the beach, we saw this semi-circle of different national flags. And look, there is a castle in the background! Once we got home, I looked it up. From Wikipedia: “Forte Sangallo, also known as the Fortezza di Nettuno, is a Renaissance fortification built on the Tyrrhenian Sea, in the historic village of the City of Nettuno, in the south of Rome.”

Italy travel street photographer

Nikon D750 | 20mm | f/9 | 1/200 | ISO 100

Beautiful Day at the Beach

Since I wore my flip-flops, I walked all the way out the beach area while Curtis stayed on the sidewalk. It was a beautiful day on the beach! This old run-down looking beach hotel had pretty chairs and umbrellas for guests to use. I’m guessing tourists could rent them too.

Italy travel street photographer

Nikon D750 | 20mm | f/9 | 1/250 | ISO 50

On the Coast

I turned toward the water and got a shot of the coastline. Just beyond the horizon was the pier. It was a surprisingly nice beach for how run-down the city appeared. Do you like the man in the speedo on the far right?

Italy travel street photographer

Nikon D750 | 20mm | f/9 | 1/250 | ISO 50

Beachgoers

I then turned back toward the city and got this shot of all the beachgoers. There were tons of people here, families/singles, old/young, big/small… You can even see Curtis standing in between the two rows of blue umbrellas in his blue shirt!

Italy travel street photographer

Nikon D750 | 20mm | f/9 | 1/250 | ISO 50

Italia

Turning a bit more to the left, you can see Forte Sangalo in the background with the Italian flag flying near a beach bar. A man sunbathes. It was very pretty and peaceful.

Italy travel street photographer

Nikon D750 | 20mm | f/9 | 1/250 | ISO 50

Leaving the Train Station

It was time to catch our train back to Rome and get back to some Americanized air conditioning (and a shower!!!). As we were leaving the train station, I got this shot of two people waiting on another train to arrive or depart. They didn’t appear to know each other. The scene looked like something out of a movie through the train’s window, but I don’t think I captured it well.

Italy travel street photographer

Nikon D750 | 20mm | f/2.8 | 1/200 | ISO 800

After returning to Rome, we were drenched with sweat so we went back to the hotel and had a siesta and a shower. Then it was off to dinner and our evening Colosseum Night Tour with Walks of Italy, which we will share next week! Sorry for so many photos this week, but we narrowed down the memorial photos as much as we could. It was such a moving experience! Thanks for reading and looking!

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
back to top|share on Facebook|tweet this post|pin this post|email this post|link to this post|contact me