Bookmark and Share

Hill Fort and War Graves

Gradara, July 2009
On the drive south down the Adriatica autostrada, we stopped at Gradara. We see Gradara as we drive along the motorway, it’s a spectacular-looking hill fort, very close to the motorway, yet there’s no indication on the motorway quite what or where this impressive-looking walled-town is. We worked it out from the map. The next job, was to find it, for though it is marked on the map, you need signposts to tell you which road to take when you are actually on the ground, and there aren’t any, or rather there was one, but to get to the road where it is located took us a fair bit of following the position of the sun.
When we got to Gradara we found it to be yet another of these Italian places where, were they anywhere else but Italy, they would be promoted with a vengeance. In fact Gradara was clearly quite popular as a visitor destination, judging by the number of car parking spaces with more being made room for, and I’d guess it is a known outing for families on a Sunday afternoon; on this particular Wednesday in July there weren’t many people about, though a couple of Dutch-registered cars and another British one as well as ours presumably means it does appear in certain guidebooks.
As is often the case with such places, anything that you have to pay to go into, such as the interior of the fort itself and a walk round the walls, was closed between one and four, while every human being is supposed to be having their lunch. The trinket-shops lining the streets were open, their owners all having something of a desperate air about them, and the restaurants and cafés were open, many with no customers at all, which must be pretty depressing for their proprietors. Being British, and as we were not at all gripped by the look or price of any of the menus on display, or by sitting alone in a practically empty restaurant, we ate our own sandwiches.
Driving back towards the motorway from Gradara, I saw on the hillside what looked like it could be a war cemetery, and so it turned out to be. This cemetery is right alongside the motorway – presumably it got there first, so in reality the motorway was built right alongside it. We’ve driven this motorway what the Italians call ‘ennessimo’ times (ie n-times) and never seen this cemetery, possibly because there are no indications from the motorway that it might be there (and equally possibly because one needs to concentrate rather more on an Italian motorway, than on a British, German or even French one).
We pulled in to look at the cemetery. During the Second World War, the British and allied forces were pushing up through Italy, having landed in 1943 in Sicily, and, probably unknown to all but a handful of troops on the ground, the plan was to put minimum resources into Italy as the their main job was to keep as many German troops as possible tied up in Italy so as to dilute the number of German soldiers on the western front. Thus there were quite a lot of allied troops killed. A battle front was formed in 1944 called the Gothic Line, and the eastern seaboard end of this was at Gradara. The cemetery is for soldiers who were killed over a wide area relating to the Gothic Line offensive. Soldiers of all ages and from a wide range of regions. Someone keeps the lawn tended, which is nice. As the traffic rushes noisily by.


Post a Comment

Related Posts with Thumbnails