317- 318: The Best Museum Ever

317 – Wednesday 2nd March 2016:  Sunny but Jobs

Terracina free overnight parking was quiet – about 7 vans dispersed in a large car park at the port/marina. Our next door neighbour – a Serbian ‘traveller’, seemed very interested in our van – we thought he was about to invite himself in….  We both ran in the morning along the very pleasant seaside route.   Then suitably brekkied, the good ship Chard allowed Bradge to jointly navigate towards Latina town – destination – a museum much recommended by TripAdvisor – but not featured in any of our guide books.  Arrived, services replenished and parked alone in a nicely shaded pitch – no cost for overnighting.  K mustered the troops (me!) – and we set to with gusto (who is this Gusto ? He seems to feature in ‘jobs’ days…).  Polishing, kitchen and bathroom cleaning (K) with me doing outsides, some maintenance bits – and hoovering (hovering?).  Suitably righteous-feeling, we treated ourselves to a glass of Marsala….. K had been to Lidl en route – litre of Marsala – Euro3.49 ! It seemingly beckoned to her from the supermarket shelf – and she couldn’t have a lone bottle on our bar….  so purchased 3!  Evening (to the sound of peacocks and a loud donkey !) – we watched “Bullitt” – Steve McQueen – from 1968…  

 

318 – Thursday 3rd March 2016:  

Someone had lots of zzzzs overnight – I did a 4k run in rather cold and windy weather – balmy compared to a UK March.

To the museum – nice price reduction for moi as a senior – and then a real treat! We knew TripAdvisor had spoken well of the place but we are wowed!  It would take a long time to describe all the areas (and the reader might fall asleep with my verbal wanderings) – but I will try to give the headlines. It was arranged in 14 very large sheds or hangars including the cafe divided into agriculture/local life – and WW2.  Note to the reader – the area is called the Pontine Plains – flooded over centuries and various attempts were made over hundreds of years to drain/convert it to useful land. Malaria was a big problem – mosquitoes liked the conditions. Mussolini solved the problem with his engineers (large hydraulic schemes, etc) – and even built new towns to house workers who were ‘encouraged’ to migrate from northern Italy.

The first shed contained toys from the past – I drooled over the aircraft, vehicles, models of earthmoving equipment – I noted 3 Caterpillar models that I have at home in my mini collection (partly in need of repair) – a fork lift, grader and roller/scarifier (Edward will know)… Who remembers having a Donkey Kong ? I was champion of my family in the 70s…  A scale model of the Titanic, Graf Spee, massed ranks of soldiers….  Next sheds, life in the area, poverty, the various attempts at reclamation – division into 20 hectare farms…  After a light lunch at the cafe, we realised we could run out of time – closing time at 6:00 pm…. decision made to move on to the WW2 section.  I have never seen such a collection of genuine military equipment in pristine condition, gleaming with anti corrosion paint.  It started with the deportation of ’undesirables’ into camps in Italy although initially, they were spared the atrocities of Nazi camps.  Over the next few hours, we learned of the battles in North Africa, Egypt, Sicily Allied landings – and the circumstances whereby Italy changed sides in 1943 – having deposed Mussolini, assured Germany of their continuing support – and then secretly signing an armistice with the Allies and declaring war with Germany – all in one month. This led to Italians fighting Italians as some joined the Germans and others fought with the Allies.  The battle for Monte Cassino we knew about having been there in the past week – wanton bombing (by the Allies) and destruction of the hilltop monastery – for no gain on either side. The Polish troops (previous post) emerged with great honour. 

This museum deserves much more publicity and we strongly recommend it to anyone interested in the history of an important area – and the special perspective of Italian involvement in WW2.  A real find!  We ran out of time and didn’t visit all the sheds – tomorrow…?

 

 

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A real Caterpillar tractor – Cat or Kat envy?

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One section was a station platform with animal carriages into which were herded the “undesirables”.  An explanations of the coloured triangles … political prisoner, gay etc.

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This tank featured in ‘An English Patient’.

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Every room in each of the sheds housed ‘real ‘scenes with sound effects.

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The scene of the assault on Montecassio Abbey.

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The Abbey taken, but by now as rubble.

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