Yet another adventure was set for today, all on the recommendation of Uncle Gerard. He had posted a comment (and spoke to us privately) about how much he had enjoyed a visit to the abbey of Benedictine monks at the famous WWII battle site in Montecassino. As we had heard of what happened there during the war and had seen many photos of the abbey at the top of the hill, we decided to book a hotel in that town and have a well-earned night away from the caravan.

With everything tidied away and ourselves scrubbed and polished, we were on our way up the motorway towards Rome, and Victoria was primed to take us to our hotel in Cassino, about half-way to the capital. Remarkably she managed to do just that without throwing a single hissy fit and we were checked in to the **** Forum Palace Hotel by 14.00.

We settled in, had coffee in the lounge then, weaving our way through throngs of people clearly on a convention, made it back to the car which we’d squeezed into the only spot available in the large car park. After a short journey we parked, quite alone, outside the British War Graves Cemetery near the heart of the town. This beautifully-kept graveyard holds the remains of those gallant soldiers from the Commonwealth countries, mainly young lads, who fell during the 4 battles it took to capture Monte Cassino and open the road north to Rome.

This was not the first War Graves site we had visited and was relatively small in comparison with the huge fields of white crosses to be found in Normandy and Belgium, but it was all the more poignant to see these several hundred stones ranked in perfect rows and files. Many of them had a small flag in front, denoting the provenance of the deceased. We therefore were able to find a host of Scots men and boys who did not return to their native land. The cemetery is quite stunning in its beauty but the reason for its existence is of course so very sad is it not? What a waste.

War Graves with Monte Cassino behind.

The Cemetery

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sober but not unhappy we returned to the hotel as it was about to get dark. But when we turned into the car park we were shocked by what greeted us. Nothing! A huge deserted area with not a single vehicle in it! Well, at least I had the choice of any parking spot I wanted. So can you tell me why I parked hard up against a prickly bush on the driver’s side and subjected  myself to a trial by thorns when I got out? Weird.

That word remained distinctly appropriate when we went into the hotel because it began to feel like we were the only customers now, a notion reinforced by the Maitre D who told me, when I said we would be down for dinner at 19.00, that he would go and inform the chef! Add to that the lift always being on the floor we left it the last time we used it and you start to wonder, don’t you?

Despite these strange impressions, we spent the next 3 hours in the room chilling out as only we can, Mary reading then tarting herself up, and me watching Man City thump Aston Villa live on a stream. It was a great game and a really good stream which felt like I was watching TV. After the match I got myself smartened up too and we went down in the lift (which was still on the 4th floor waiting for us!)

When we walked into the big dining-room in the ristorante, we were shown to a table midway down on the far side from the entrance. We sat, studied the menu and ordered. We were at the only table set for dinner. Gulp! For some reason, scenes from “The Shining” started popping into my brain and I struggled to dismiss them. Mary, on the other hand, was loving the sumptuous décor of the place and when they brought her scallops au gratin with grilled vegetables, well, she was transported to another place. I had already been transported to another place…….. a cinema showing all the movies where a couple end up alone in a hotel, motel, lodge, restaurant, pub, park, church, you name it, I’ve seen it!

To compensate, I drank most of our half-litre of red wine, just to help chase away any bad thoughts. To be fair, the meal was superb and I could not quite finish my freshly-made Carbonara while Mary ate her scallops with gusto.

Scallops served in……… scallops!

After a short conversation in Italian with the waiter about his one and only visit to Scotland (Loch Ness of course!), we returned to our room for the evening via the lift which was waiting for us.We skyped a couple of people, I watched some of MOTD in bed then we drifted off. By 3 a.m. I was awake, staring down at the Audi sitting all alone outside our window. There were some noises from elsewhere in the corridor, just enough to keep my overactive imagination racing in top gear, preparing for Jack Nicholson to swing his axe through the door and do that “Little Pigs!” thing, but I eventually returned to bed and fell asleep where I dreamed some strange dreams.

If I don’t post another day’s Blog, you’ll know they weren’t dreams.

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