My Visit to the Sicily-Rome American Cemetery and Memorial
During my trip to Rome, Italy I took a day trip to Nettuno where the Sicily-Rome American Cemetery and Memorial is located. I have always been a World War II (WWII) history buff and this was a good opportunity to learn more about the Italian campaign. My studies during both undergraduate and postgraduate school, I was able to learn a lot about the Italian Campaign by studying the September 9, 1944 invasions of Operation Avalanche (Salerno), Operation Baytown (Calabria), and Operation Slapstick (Taranto). I was humbled that I had the opportunity to pay my respects to fallen Americans who died during WWII and to also learn more about the history of the allied campaign in Italy.
American Sacrifice during the Invasion of Italy
There were several allied forces that fought during the invasion of Italy. However, not to take away from other countries sacrifice, this post is about the American Cemetery and Memorial. The cemetery/memorial is representative of 10,956 American who died in Italy. However, over 23,000 total American died in Italy during the fighting in WWII. The cemetery holds the remains of 7,861 soldiers, sailors, and civilians.1 Another 3,095 are memorialized on the Wall of the Missing in the Chapel.2 The cemetery was originally established two days after the landing in Anzio (January 22, 1944). After WWII, the government of Italy granted use of the land in perpetuity without charge as a permanent burial ground for the U.S. dead.3
Once I arrived at the cemetery/memorial I was tempted to start walking around the grounds and take pictures, but I saw a sign pointing me in the direction of the visitor center. I highly recommend making this your first stop so you can learn more about the history of the cemetery/memorial and also WWII.
Inside you will be greeted by friendly staff welcoming you and providing you with maps and directions of how to maneuver your way through the multiple video and picture displays inside the building.
During my tour of the visitor center I encountered a picture of an American Soldier by the name of Guadalupe Garza, an Hispanic from Texas (no relations). The display was demonstrating how people from all backgrounds in America fought in the war.
The Stone Cenotaph
Before you enter the burial area, there is a beautiful small island at the entrance of the cemetery/memorial. In the center of the pool there is a stone cenotaph of Roman travertine honoring the ward dead. The pool is perfectly designed and the trees, grass, and flowers are beautifully manicured.
The Burial Area
Once you make your way around the pool, you will enter the burial area. The grounds crew were out working in the burial area during my visit. I experienced the same type of dedication and respect at the American Cemeteries and Memorials in France, Belgium, Luxembourg, and Tunisia. I’ve also included a video of the burial area and of the gardens.
The South Garden
The South Garden is aligned with crepe myrtle trees that shine with beautiful colors. At the far end of the garden is a bronze statue of the Greek god of music, Orpheus.4
The memorial consists of a chapel, map room, and the “Brothers in Arms” sculpture.
Inside the chapel are 3,095 names of the missing. The chapel is ornate and one feels completely humbled by seeing thousands of names etched in marble.
The Map Room
Inside the map room, you will be find beautiful illustrated maps of the land invasion, the air assault campaign, and the overall Italian military operation.
“The Brothers in Arms” Sculpture
In the center of the memorial stands a circle of pillars constructed of Roman travertine. In the middle of the pillars is the “Brothers in Arms”sculpture dedicated to the American Soldier and Sailor.
The North Garden
The North Garden is comprised of four stars surrounded by season flowers. Outside of the seasonal flowers is a rectangular strip with blooming roses, Italian umbrella pines, and a granite fountain.5
How to Get Here
There are several daily trains that leave Termini station in Rome. The cost of the roundtrip ticket is about €6.50 and you can easily buy the ticket at one of the self-serving kiosks. Ensure you type in Nettuno as your destination and not Anzio. The train ride is a little over one hour and once you arrive the cemetery/memorial is a short 10 minute walk from the Nettuno train station.
During the summer months the memorial/cemetery is open from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. I learned this the hard way. I was hoping to get some sunset shots at the memorial but they were closed when I arrived. I had to make another trip the next morning. 🙂
I have always been humbled by visiting American military cemeteries and memorials. Like many war memorials, this place is about honoring sacrifice and not war. Below are a few more photos of my experience.
*Sources taken from the brochure provided at the cemetery/memorial and www.abmc.gov
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