On the ‘hinge’ between the geographical cultures of southern Italy, the city of Cassino is located on the foothills of a mountain, in a valley watered by the rivers Rapido and Gari where conquerors have passed throughout the millennia with every type of army.
The city flourished in Roman times as ‘Casinum’ and its witness is the remains of an amphitheatre, a theatre, several temples, thermal baths in the villa of Varro, two forums for trade and business, and an impressive aqueduct of over 22 km.
On its original acropolis, Benedict of Nursia established his residence and built his most important monastery. In that period the city altered and changed, and for a few centuries, its name was San Germano.
The history of Cassino has paralleled that of the Benedictine abbey: here the Emperor Frederick II signed the peace treaty with Gregory IX in 1230 (Peace of San. Germano). It was capital of the small but important “State of S. Germano” under the authority of the abbots of Monte Cassino.
There were terrible days firstly in 1799 with the arrival of the French army, which caused death and destruction, and then in 1944 by the Anglo-American bombing. During World War II Cassino was the cornerstone of the Gustav Line, and for nine months, from September 1943 to May 1944, the armies of the world faced each other on their way to Rome.
The monastery was subject to carpet-bombing (15 February 1944) and the destruction was total, though the Americans have subsequently rebuilt it as it was and where it was.
Cassino is home to the University of Cassino and in its countryside Fiat has created one of the most modern car plants in Europe.