After leaving the rain and cobblestones behind in Pompeii, we decided to spend the night in Cassino — midway between Pompeii and Rome. This would give us an early start to drive into Rome in the morning while treating ourselves to a nice hotel and a great dinner.
We battled our Tom-Tom GPS system again (if it were not for exorbitant data charges on our smart phones, we would have thrown the Tom-Tom out the window in Naples and used our phones). We drove around and around and around in circles in the town center of Cassino looking for our hotel as the Tom-Tom taunted us with the “lost GPS” advisory, advised us to turn around on one-way streets, and took us up steep hills in search of a street that had nothing to do with our quest. When I finally got out of the car and looked up, there was a huge neon sign on the top of a nearby roof declaring Hotel Piazza Marconi.
We parked in a spot right in front of the hotel outlined in yellow (parking for residents only) and defined with a huge X through the entire spot. The manager assured us that this was our parking spot for the night. Nirvana! We had won the parking lottery! (Never realizing until we turned our car in to the rental agency the next day that someone had probably backed into our car during the night. So it was really a $300 parking spot once damages were paid.)
Our hotel room for three was large and immaculate. It featured a room-sized, private patio/deck overlooking the square but we were tired and did not take advantage of this wonderful amenity that night (too cold) or the next morning (too early). The Hotel Piazza Marconi is located at:
We were prepared to splurge but prices were reasonable and selections were plentiful. First we focused on Primi (first plate) courses.
Ristorante Cucina, Cassino, Italy – Risotto carnaroli con porcini e zucca mantecato al cesanese for 10 euros.
We also ordered from the Le Carne menu. The pork loin was absolutely perfect.
A complimentary desert plate appeared after we had ordered desert but we ate the tasty treats with gusto.
Then we made room for the way-over-the-top I sapori d’italia. It was rich, sweet, delicious, and too much to eat it all.
Not only did we enjoy wonderful food, we also appreciated the hugs from our very special server. I wish we had asked her name. She was extraordinary.
Shopping is always required when traveling with the Kopriver sisters so before arriving in Cassino, we made a quick detour to the La Reggia Designer Outlet (because, of course, there would be no shopping in Rome). This upscale mall was crowded on a Saturday night and should have been very difficult to get to from the A-1 highway north of Naples. We threw down the Tom-Tom (I actually think I heard the b*&%$-in-the-box say, “maybe you should turn here or you could go a little farther and turn there oh, I don’t know, maybe you should have turned back there….lost GPS signal”) and we just followed the well-marked signs to the mall. The same accurate signage returned us to the highway after our shopping adventure while our Tom-Tom looked for a signal (but never found one).
The Designer Outlet mall featured high end designers in a lovely environment replete with flowers, signage that resembled that found in Rancho Sante Fe, California, and lots and lots of clothing. We were looking for luggage since Terry had over-shopped and we had our choice of four different luggage stores. Mission accomplished.
If you are traveling in southern Italy, consider a stop in Cassino. In 1944, more than 100,000 Allied troops lost their lives in four battles near Cassino as they fought for a clear route to Rome in WWII. Among the survivors was a huge Iranian bear named Wojtek. He carried artillery shells for the Polish army. The Allies dropped more than 1,400 tons of bombs on the Abby overlooking Cassino, thinking it was a German strong-hold. Today there is little sign of this terrible battle. Still, I would like to return and visit the Abby and explore the area a little more deeply. I’d especially like to see the Montecassino Peace Memorial. Europe has worked hard for peace and I respect the European Union so much for that.