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Visit Monte Castello, in Emilia Romagna

Monte Castello is located in the Tuscan-Emilian Apennine and houses one of the most beautiful tributes to Brazilian Expeditionary Force, taking us back to a time very different from today. Shall we find out more?

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Visit Monte Castello, in Emilia Romagna

In 1945, Brazil conquered Monte Castello, but only after several attempts. With several dead, Brazil received a beautiful tribute in this little piece of Italian land so special to us. Shall we get to our post of the day? Visit Monte Castello, in Emilia Romagna! Here at Your Travel to Italy with Ana Patricia you make the trip of your dreams!!! Also: see our “Acommodation in Italy – Tips for your holidays!” 

Our Introduction

Monte Castello is next to Gaggio Montano and is a town of 5,100 inhabitants in the province of Bologna, in Emilia-Romagna. Its symbol is the lighthouse also called Sasso di Rocca, and its inhabitants are called “gaggesi”. As it is a small town, there is not much to do, however, all the nature that surrounds it makes the trip worthwhile.

1) Visit Monte Castello, in Emilia Romagna: VISIT THE SANTUARIO DELLA MADONNA DEGLI EMIGRANTI

One of the attractions is the Santuario della Madonna degli Emigranti (“Shrine of Our Lady of the Emigrants”). The Shrine is 1100 meters above sea level, just above Gaggio and is built in the mountain range where the old border road runs, which still connects Monte Castello to Mt Belvedere, in the Lizzanese region. It is in an area whose population dates back to the Lombard era and which, for centuries, was the scene of fierce struggles between Bologna and Modena for political control of neighboring Frignano.

2) Visit Monte Castello, in Emilia Romagna: VISIT THE SASSO DI ROCCA ROCK

From the terrace of the city’s belvedere, you can have a fantastic view of the huge Sasso di Rocca rock, which rises on top of the most substantial village; from there it is possible to enjoy the view of one of the most enchanting panoramas of the Apennines of Bologna. The old part of Gaggio Montano is particularly evocative, perched around the majestic stone that symbolizes the city, with narrow streets and ancient buildings, including Tanari House, Pasi Palace, the elegant arch at the gateway to Sasso di Rocca and the underlying ancient village, which has remained intact over time.

3) Visit Monte Castello in Emilia Romagna: VISIT THE LIGHTHOUSE IN GAGGIO MONTANO

The lighthouse in Gaggio Montano, on top of a mountain, is not only beautiful but also a monument to the fallen. It includes ‘the bridge’, the original village of Gaggio, where, in addition to Ca ‘del Ponte, there is a park full of precious essences, such as Tanari House (13th-14th centuries) – whose courtyard is accessed by a 16th century arch – and Capponi House (15th century). Further down, the old fortress was transformed, in the second half of the 16th century, into the residence of the Capacelli, which still maintains interesting 14th century rooms and frescoes, including an “Our Lady with Jesus” and several saints, all from the beginning of the 15th century.

A little bit of History?

“É mais fácil para uma cobra fumar do que o Brasil entrar em guerra” (“It is easier for a snake to smoke than for Brazil to go to war”) said the then president of Brazil, Getúlio Vargas, but the “snake smoked”. The BEF, the Brazilian Expeditionary Force, then adopted the motto and their logo was “the snake is smoking”.

It is important to remember that Brazil entered the World War II under US pressure, in 1942, and as soon as they arrived in Bologna, the Americans followed suit. On February 21st, 1945, the BEF, after several failed attempts, finally conquered Monte Castello (near Gaggio Montano) while the Americans attacked Monte Torraccia.

The Brazilians’ last tactic was to attack the German defenses at Monte Castello, above Gaggio Montano, in forbidding weather conditions; however, life is not a bed of roses: they reported significant losses declaring the death of 146 men, but premature bombardment by American artillery also contributed to this fact. In total, around 416 people (Brazilian and American) died before the final and successful attack.

Arriving in Italy…

Brazil participated in World War II with only 25,000 men supported only by a small air force. Their arrival in Italy was in July 1944, under the command of General JB Mascarenhas de Morais. There, the BEF joined the 4th Corps of the US V Army and began its military campaign in September, in the Camaiore area and in Garfagnana. In early November, it was transferred to the Upper Rhine, with the main objective of conquering Monte Castello.

With this infantry division and a minimal air force, its troops fought only in Italy, in the Tuscan-Emilian Apennines and among the most significant successes achieved is not only the conquest of Monte Castello. It is also necessary to remember the liberation of Montese (Modena), in the vicinity, and the capture, between Collecchio and Fornovo, in the Parma area, of the German division.

On February 21, 2020, the achievement completed 75 years. Today, in Monte Castello, there is a monument to the fallen Brazilians. The work is by artist Mary Vieira, and is located at the foot of the mountain. It represents the sacrifice of the so-called “pracinhas”, that is, the Brazilian soldiers.

Where to eat in Monte Castello?

Osteria della rocca: with typical dishes and in a privileged location, the place offers a very pleasant atmosphere, fair prices and a great menu option. Address: Via del Borgo 59, 40041 Rocca Pitigliana, Gaggio Montano. Hours: Sunday, from 11:00 am to 10:00 pm; Wednesday, from 11:00 am to 3:00 pm and Thursday to Saturday, from 11:00 am to 11:30 pm.


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Conclusion

Visit Monte Castello, in Emilia Romagna. With a more than deserved tribute to Brazilians, Monte Castello reminds us of all those who fought for an ideal; Gaggio Montano offers us all the peace of a place that, 75 years ago, suffered from war. Immersed in nature, the area is an excellent choice for those who want to escape from traditional tourism and the crowds that end up ‘overloading’ larger cities such as Milan, Rome, Venice, among others.

If you’re looking for history, culture and breathtaking views: consider a different trip to a place you probably never thought of seeing; consider getting to know this piece of land that mixes a bit of Brazilian and Italian history, and which has everything to amaze you!

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