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Visit to the Monte Cassino Monastery and travel to Rome

September 22: This was a big day as we were moving out of Maiori in the Amalfi coast to Rome. Stopping for a short coffee break, we stopped at Monte Cassino – a hill-top, Benedictine Monastery, 88 miles to the north.

After the visit, we stopped for lunch at Area Varlese in the foot hills and arrived in Rome after another 85 miles.

Although the drive to Rome was a little tedious, the tour director made it somewhat enjoyable with Italian songs (Buongiorno a te by Luciano Pavarotti; Tu Vuo Fa L’Americano; Volare, etc.) from a music box; a 101 intro to Italian phrases; meaning of Italian hand gestures and signs; a little bit of Italian politics and of course, the screening of ‘Roman Holiday’ in the internal infotainment screens.  The memorable part of this trip was that one from our group had the energetic, operatic voice who joined Buongiorno, Volare, etc. and gave us a great time. It was a long day.

We arrived around 4:00 PM or so and glasses of Prosecco was waiting for us in the lobby of Empire Palace Hotel (www.empirepalacehotel.com), a former palace converted into a hotel.

 Source: Empire Palace Hotel

The hotel was centrally located, and we could just walk to Spanish Steps in about 20 minutes. The WiFi was working although somewhat slow. The hotel was comfortable and there was a courtyard restaurant which served the rooms as well as guests who wanted to sit out. We were to stay here two more nights and have our breakfast (Ristorante ’Aureliano’) in the ground floor; the coffee was just so, so. The lunch and dinner were not included in our program as there was a large selection of restaurants close by. Of course, there was a gelateria close by as our group was particularly partial to gelato.

After depositing our luggage in the rooms and taking some rest, we went out for dinner.  We chose a nice restaurant not too far, about 5 minutes from our hotel. The food at Taverna Flavia was pretty good.

Source: Via Veneto Roma

The service was extremely slow and getting the bill was even slower. This was very common in all the places we visited so far, and I began to feel that perhaps we are chronically fast paced compared to Europeans.  We returned to hotel as I was down with cold, but the rest of the group went out for more drinking. Altogether it was an enjoyable evening.

 Monte Cassino Monastery

The Monte Cassino Monastery (altitude 1706’) was built in 529 AD by Saint Benedict himself by demolishing the existing temple for Apollo and building an oratory for St. Martin. St. Benedict wanted to wean away the locals from devil worship; sorcery and paganism. The monastery was and still is the home to the Benedictine order of monks.

Monte Cassino (sometimes Montecassino) has seen a lot of changes after being destroyed in the past at least four times due to various invasions (Lombards and Saracens); earthquakes and battles starting in the year 581. More recently in 1944, it was bombarded and destroyed by the allies to get the occupying Germans forces. On the way back from the monastery we saw various memorials to the fallen soldiers from the allies.

Monte Cassino was rebuilt according to the original plans but had a not so old appearance.

 Source: Wikipedia Commons

St. Benedict (480-543) or more correctly St. Benedict of Nursia (or Norcia) founded the Benedictine Order. He laid down the Benedictine Rule, set of rules for living and participating in monastic life.

Benedict rules mandated the monks the task of taking care of the sick and the frail; established hospitals (first ever in Europe) in Subiaco and made provisions to grow medicinal plants at the monastery. The monastery at Monte Cassino became the template for future establishments and educational institutions. He also established what was the most important medical library with extensive references from European and Arab medicine at Monte Cassino.

Pope Paul IV (1964) proclaimed St. Benedict to be the patron saint of all Europe.

His sister(twin) Scolastica joined St. Benedict at Monte Cassino’s nunnery. St. Benedict died soon after the death of his sister. Their relics are buried in the crypt at Monte Cassino.

Here are some pictures of our visit to the Abbey of Monte Cassino.

Getting ready to leave.

Fig 5

Arrivederci Maiori.

Fig 8

Visting the abbey and the crypt 


Fig 16

Fig 17

Fig 18

Fig 28


The mosaics are not probably by Byzantine craftsmen but the technique, motifs and layout for the floors, walls, and such are typically Byzantine but crafted locally by italian craftsmen.


Here are some nice examples of mosaics captured by Raymon Austin.


The company that restored the pipe organ is still active, restoring peices everywhere in Europe.


 Source: Raymond Austin

ORA et Labora ; Guiding principles for this order

  Source: Raymond Austin

Our group at the crypt

Fig 40


We will travel by bus further north to arrive at the Eternal City, Rome

Here is a video of our visit. Click the link to see on You Tube.



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More Stories By Jayaram Krishnaswamy

Jayaram Krishnaswamy is a technical writer, mostly writing articles that are related to the web and databases. He is the author of SQL Server Integration Services published by Packt Publishers in the UK. His book, 'Learn SQL Server Reporting Services 2008' was also published by Packt Publishers Inc, Birmingham. 3. "Microsoft SQL Azure Enterprise Application Development" (Dec 2010) was published by Packt Publishing Inc. 4. "Microsoft Visual Studio LightSwitch Business Application Development [Paperback] "(2011) was published by Packt Publishing Inc. 5. "Learning SQL Server Reporting Services 2012 [Paperback]" (June 2013) was Published by Packt Publishing Inc. Visit his blogs at: http://hodentek.blogspot.com http://hodentekHelp.blogspot.com http://hodnetekMSSS.blogspot.com http://hodnetekMobile.blogspot.com He writes articles on several topics to many sites.

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