Cassino for a day: The Monte Cassino abbey and monastery
Cassino is one of the two largest cities in the Frosinone province in Lazio. The city is little known among foreign tourists but is a gem for Italians. It’s the land of Saint Benedict, the cradle of Christianity in the Roman empire, and the birthplace of many saints and philosophers. It’s “the door to the South” in the outskirts of Rome (150 km) on the road to Naples (70 km away). Throughout the city’s long history, it was completely destroyed and rebuilt several times.
It’s a fairly modern city with one of the best universities in Italy and home to the Fiat company. Cassino also has many hotels which delight tourists with their level of comfort. You can see the list of hotels and book a room here.
The modern amenities make it a nice place to stay, but the real treasure of Cassino is its history. All the interesting places to visit, unlike the many tourist sights in Rome, are in one area. It’s easy to see them all in one day.
Monte Cassino abbey
The Monte Cassino monastery was founded by Saint Benedict in 529. It sits 520 meters above the city. You can see a unique library here with more than 40,000 ancient parchments, the smallest Bible in the world, basilicas, a heavenly balcony and much more. Entrance to the monastery is free and it’s open during the day.
During WWII, the Gustav line went through Cassino. Monte Cassino was a strategic target and served as a fortress for the German soldiers. So despite the rare and unique historical monuments, including Michelangelo’s frescos and other valuables, the American commanders gave the decision to wipe the monastery off the face of the Earth. Over time, the monastery was completely rebuilt, but much was lost and couldn’t be restored. Today the abbey also serves as a symbol of human barbarism.
Getting to the monastery is fairly easy since it’s above the city and the road is easy to find. You can also use the city transport.
Polish military cemetery
Just a few minutes walk away from the Monte Cassino monastery is a Polish cemetery: a monument to the fallen in the fight against fascism and Nazis. You can visit it from 9 to 12:30 and 3:30 to 5 for free. There are also German and English cemeteries nearby.
Janula Fortress, 13th century
Below the monastery is an ancient fortress that has wonderful views of the whole city. You can visit it from 9 to 1 and 3 to 7:30 for free.
National Archeology Museum
This is a unique place in Monte Cassino where you can see the results of excavations: an ancient amphitheater and theater from the days of Emperor Augustus, as well as the mausoleum of Gaius Ummidius Durmius Quadratus built in the 1st century BC. You can go to the museum in the winter from 9 to 5 and in the summer from 9 to 7. You have to buy a ticket which costs 1 Euro if you’re between 18 and 25 years old, or 2 Euros if you’re between 26 and 65. Entrance is free for those under 18 or over 65. The museum is closed 3 days a year: January 1, May 1, and December 25.
Next to the central train station is a park that existed during Cicero’s times. It’s a wonderful place in Cassino for picnics and camping, and it’s the “green lungs” of the city. The main treasure of the park is the thermal water rich in salt and minerals. It’s used to treat many GI and kidney illnesses. You can drink as much as you want. You’ll need to bring everything with you for a picnic. Entrance costs 2.5 Euros.
Restaurants and pizzerias
Cassino, like any other Italian city, has many cozy places where you can try local and Roman food. Both in the center of the city and further out there are plenty of restaurants, pizzerias, trattorias and bars. You can get a delicious pizza in any pizzeria for about 10 Euros. You’ll spend 15 to 20 Euros on lunch in a restaurant of trattoria.
Here are a few to consider:
- Trattoria La Cantina (via Enrico de Nicola 66). It’s in the middle of the city near the courthouse and commune building. You can have a good lunch for 10 Euros.
- The restaurant “Evan’s” (Via Gari 1-3). It’s not far from Monte Cassino. It’s a restaurant with a good reputation. Lunch here starts at 30 Euros.
- The eastern restaurant Sushi/Wok (via Arigni 126). It’s in the center. It’s a buffet style restaurant, and you’ll spend 10.90 Euros for lunch and 15.90 for dinner.
How to get to Cassino
Thanks to its convenient location between Rome and Naples, getting to Cassino is very easy. Here are your options.
1) A train from Rome:
- The Roma-Napoli route (stop at Cassino).
- Roma Termini – Cassino (check the train schedule a day ahead).
- Roma Fiumicino airport. Then you’ll take a special train “Leonardo Express” from the airport to the Roma Termini station.
- Roma Ciampino airport, and then the Ciampino-Cassino train.
- Napoli Capodichino airport. Then take the Alibus bus to the central station in Naples (Garribaldi square). From there, take the Napoli-Cassino train. You can also take a bus from Naples’s central station.
3) Car (on the sun road):
- A1 (Milano-Napoli) highway and get off at Cassino.
- Casilina Road #6. It runs almost parallel to A1.
The city has a good amount of paid and free parking which is useful if you take a car. It’s also easy to get to the center from the train station. If you go straight and don’t turn, it’s about 800 meters away on viale Dante. You can also use the many buses (there’s a stop in front of the train station) or take a taxi. You can order one in advance online here. Getting to Cassino will cost you 20 Euros. If you don’t want to use public transport, you can get to Cassino in a rental car. It’s best to get it at the airport to make your trip much shorter. You can use this service to rent a car in Rome’s airport.
Have an amazing trip!
Leave a ReplyWant to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!