In the company of three outstanding military historians, we will trace the action of this pivotal campaign. Nearly a year before the Allied powers stormed the beaches of Normandy, American, British, and Canadian troops invaded Sicily, their stepping stone to Hitler’s “Fortress Europe.” In just five weeks, the Allies drove Axis air, land, and naval forces from the island, the Mediterranean's sea lanes were opened, and Italian dictator Benito Mussolini was deposed.
On August 17, 1943, the last German garrison fled across the Strait of Messina to the Italian mainland taking 40,000 men and all its equipment with it. In pursuit, the elements of the British Eighth Army landed at Reggio di Calabria on September 3, 1943 and, on September 9, 1943 the American Fifth Army landed at Salerno. Both Armies then fought their way north against bitter opposition and a series of well established defense lines. Rome was liberated on June 5, 1944, but the brutal campaign continued for another eleven months before German forces in Italy finally surrendered on May 2, 1945.
Day 1, August 30, Saturday Individual departures from the United States.
Note: Staff (Ed Bearss & Marty Gane) are scheduled to fly to Sicily one day early. They will depart Friday, August 29 from Washington Dulles Airport on United Airlines flight #132 and connect in Munich to Lufthansa Airlines flight #1964, arriving in Catania on August 30 at 11:20 am.
Day 2, August 31, Sunday Individual arrivals at Catania–Fontanarossa Airport in Sicily.
At approximately 2:00 pm, we will transfer by coach from Catania’s airport to our hotel in the hills near the town of Ragusa (approximately a 2-hour drive). Meet our historian guides, Ed Bearss and Steve Hamilton at this evening’s welcome dinner. Steve will accompany us throughout the Sicily portion of our tour. Overnight Poggio del Sole Resort, Ragusa (D)
Day 3, September 1, Monday
Today will be dedicated to the U.S. landing beaches of Operation Husky from Licata to Scoglietti. We will learn about the opening engagement of American forces at the Battle of Gela (July 10-12, 1943) and a key battle to take a vital crossroads in Piano Lupo (July 11). We will hear about Col. “Jumpin’ Jim” Gavin’s heroic action at the Battle of Biazzi Ridge and near Ponte Dirillo we will see a memorial to the 82nd Airborne.
Overnight Poggio del Sole Resort, Ragusa (B,L,D)
Day 4, September 2, Tuesday
This morning, we depart our hotel and drive east towards Catania. We will skirt the British landing beaches south of Syracuse and stop at Panchino where the 51st Highlanders came ashore (July 10). We will proceed north and stop to discuss the critical action by British Airborne Forces to capture Primosole Bridge (July 13-16) just south of Catania. We will tour the Historical Museum of the Landings before checking into our hotel.
Overnight Il Principe Hotel, Catania (B,L,D)
Day 5, September 3, Wednesday
We will spend the day in the mountains of central Sicily, the scene of some of the fiercest fighting of the Allied invasion. We will visit the town of Centuripe, captured by the U.S. II Corps and Troina (July 31-August 6) where allied troops clashed with heavily fortified German forces. We will pay our respects at the Canadian War cemetery in Agira before returning to Catania. Overnight Il Principe Hotel, Catania (B,L)
Day 6, September 4, Thursday
Today we will depart Catania and drive the eastern slope of Mt. Etna to Capo D’Orlando on Sicily’s northern coast. We will trace a portion of General George Patton’s route as he raced to Messina. We will visit San Fratello Ridge, Brolo and the Naso Ridge en route to Messina.
Overnight Main Palace Hotel, Roccalumera (B,L,D)
Day 7, September 5, Friday
This morning, we will transfer to the Catania–Fontanarossa Airport for our flight to Naples where we will say good-bye to Steve Hamilton. Upon arrival in Naples, we will take a diversion from the momentous events of 1943/44 with a tour of ancient Pompeii en route to our hotel situated on the Amalfi Coast. At this evening’s dinner, we will meet historian guide, Frank de Planta. Frank will accompany us for the balance of the trip.
Overnight La Medusa Grand Hotel, Castellammare Di Stabia (B,L,D)
Day 8, September 6, Saturday
We will begin with an orientation talk at Castello di Arechii which provides a stunning panoramic view of the Bay of Salerno. From this viewpoint, Ed and Frank will give opening remarks about Operation Avalanche - the Fifth Army landing on mainland Italy. We will proceed to the U.S. VI Corps landing beaches near the ancient Greek temples of Paestum where the main invasion of Salerno by American forces began on September 9, 1943. In the mountain village of Altavilla, we will hear the story of Medal of Honor recipient Corporal Charles “Commando” Kelly. He was the first enlisted man to be awarded the Medal of Honor for actions on the European continent. We will learn about the advance of the U.S. 45th Infantry Division along the Sele-Calore corridor in their rush to Ponte Sele. We will finish the day tracing the route of the Fifth Army from the landings at Salerno to their arrival in Cassino on January 15, 1944. Overnight in Hotel Rocca, Cassino (B,L,D)
Day 9, September 7, Sunday
Today we begin our study of the four-month long Battle for Cassino, four costly Allied attempts to break through the German defenses of the Gustav Line and clear the way to Rome. We will see where the U.S. 36th Infantry Division made an heroic but futile attempt to cross the rain-swollen Rapido River near the town of Sant’ Angelo on January 20. A Congressional investigation in 1946 referred to the infamous battle as "one of the most colossal blunders of the Second World War." This afternoon, our tour will feature the Second Battle for Cassino in mid-February, the bombing of Monastery Hill as well as the attack on the Cassino Railroad station.
Overnight in Hotel Rocca, Cassino (B,L)
Day 10, September 8, Monday
On March 15, Allied forces made a third attempt to penetrate the German line with an assault on Cassino town and Monastery Hill. We will learn about the decision by II (NZ) Corps to build a tank path dubbed the “Cavendish Road” and assess its impact on the battle. We will see the terrain over which 2 New Zealand Division fought for the town of Cassino and 4 Indian Division fought for the eastern face of Monastery Hill. We will trace the route of tanks of the 20 NZ Armoured Regiment as they worked their way along the Cavendish Road in an attempt to take the Abbey on March 19. We will see a memorial made from one of the tanks destroyed during the battle. After lunch, we will learn about the titanic struggle for Snakeshead Ridge and Point 593 behind the Monastery. Overnight in Hotel Rocca, Cassino (B,L)
Day 11, September 9, Tuesday
On a visit to the Polish cemetery, we will see the graves of thousands of Poles who died storming Point 593 during the Fourth Battle of Cassino in May 1944. The Germans finally withdrew from the heights of Cassino to a new defensive line, but, we will learn how, one week later on May 23, this new line was breached by 1st Canadian Infantry Division supported by tanks of the North Irish Horse. This afternoon, we will visit the US Sicily-Rome Military Cemetery, proceed north and begin to examine Operation Shingle – the landings at Anzio by the VI (US) Corps on January 22, 1944. When the Allies’ advance was halted at the Gustav Line at Cassino, Churchill proposed landing on the beaches of Anzio behind the Line. We will learn about his controversial decision, the landings at Peter Beach and the struggle to take the Campoleone Railroad Station.
Overnight in Astura Palace Hotel, Nettuno (B,L,D)
Day 12, September 10, Wednesday
We begin the day at the Anzio War Cemetery and then learn about the US Rangers’ catastrophic infiltration up the Pantano Ditch on January 30, 1944 and the actions at Buonriposo Ridge (February 5-10) and Campo di Carne (February 16-March 4). We will hear about the WWI-style defensive actions employed in the “Lobster Claws” and end the day discussing the VI (US) Corps’ options for breaking out of Anzio. Overnight in Astura Palace Hotel, Nettuno (B,L)
Day 13, September 11, Thursday
Today we will examine the outcome of Operation Buffalo and the initial success of the American breakout towards Valmontone on (May 23-25). In the Velletri Gap, we will learn how the 36th US Infantry Division slipped undetected between a gap in the German defense line on the night of May 29, 1944. We will view the Anzio Plain from Monte Artemisio and study the progress of Operation Buffalo after General Clark’s controversial decision to switch to Operation Turtle on May 25, 1944. This evening we will toast our journey at our farewell dinner. Overnight Golden Tulip Rome Airport (B,D)
Day 14, September 12, Friday Individual departures. (B)
Note: Staff plan to spend September 12 touring Rome. They are departing Rome September 13, on United Airlines flight #967.
Edwin C. Bearss is a National Treasure. Author, lecturer and one of our nation's preeminent historians, Ed's encyclopedic knowledge and unflagging energy are legendary. A native of Sarpy, Montana, Ed is a decorated WWII Marine Corps veteran from the Pacific Theater. Ed has enjoyed a 41-year career as an historian for the National Park Service. In 1981, he was named Chief Historian Emeritus of the National Park Service, a position he held until 1994. Ed has led many WWII tours from Normandy to the Rhine River; the Battle of Crete, and the Italian Campaign.
TOUR INCLUDES (13 days/12 nights):
* Historian Guide: Ed Bearss is scheduled to accompany entire tour
* Historian Guide: Steve Hamilton for the Sicily Portion (click name for bio)
* Historian Guide: Frank de Planta for the mainland Italy Portion (click name for bio)
* Services of a licensed Italian guide
* Services of a professional tour director: Marty Gane is scheduled for this tour
* 12 nights in hotel accommodations
* Private, air-conditioned, motor coach for all sightseeing
* 12 full American breakfasts, 10 lunches, 8 dinners
* One-way airline ticket from Catania to Naples on September 5
* All admissions, tours and excursions as described in the itinerary
* All taxes, baggage handling (one bag per person), & gratuities
* Pre-trip notes, reading list and map book
What is Not Included:
Airfare; transfers between airport and hotel; trip cancellation/interruption and baggage insurance; personal items such as wines, liquors, a la carte orders, room service, valet/laundry charges; and meals and other items not specifically mentioned as included.
Price does not include airfare, however, we are happy to help with flight arrangements.
Ed Bearss and Marty Gane plan to depart Washington Dulles on August 29, one day early (see above). They are spending an extra day (September 12) in Rome; departing Rome on September 13. Let us know if you wish to fly with them. Pre- and post-tour arrangements including extra hotel nights, airport transfers and sightseeing excursions can be organized for an additional cost.
COST: 13 DAYS/12 NIGHTS
Double Occupancy: $5,795 per person
Single Occupancy: $6,350
Please note: Tour prices are based on a minimum of 25 participants.
Tour prices are based on exchange rates at time of publication. If enrollments fall below 25 or currency fluctuations occur, we reserve the right to levy a surcharge and will notify participants of such increase, if it is necessary to do so, at 90 days when the final payment is due.