Red Devils, Spitfires and Partisans

The Gustav Line TrailOn 6th December 1943 Civitella Messer Raimondo was liberated from the Nazi German army stationed on The Gustav Line along the Aventino Valley as part of ‘Operation Slapstick’.

Every year the Civitellese commemorate this event, to honour those who fought and died to liberate this heavily fortified section of the Gustav Line. If you are in the area do join and take part, particularly in the walk, this year, Saturday 4th December starting at 09.00 am. It’s a fascinating, interactive way to learn the history of the region, with guides Barbara della Costa and the Military Geologist Dr Adele Garzarella who speaks superb English, so you will not miss out on the facts and stories if your Italian isn’t quite up to scratch.

The military geologist Adele Garzarella with Jim Knox ….Liberation Day April 2016 at Civitella. Jim was the last remaining Para who came to meet the last remaining Partisan Michele Mancini

The military geologist Adele Garzarella with Jim Knox ….Liberation Day April 2016 at Civitella. Jim was the last remaining Para who came to meet the last remaining Partisan Michele Mancini

The Gustav Line Trail

The guided walk in the foothills retraces the route taken by the ‘Red Devil’ Parachutists from their landing behind enemy lines not far from Taranta Peligna, along the Gustav Line to Lama dei Peligni (this portion by car), then on foot through the woods on Monte Tari’ to view where the Germans were dug in. Here RAF Spitfires were used in assisting the safe passage of both the Paras and the local partisans that became known as The Maiella Brigade who were ably assisting the attack.

It was in these woods, aware of the danger, that the young partisans had begun their first acts of sabotage and clashes with German soldiers. Their courage was decisive in gaining the confidence of the allied army, which had established its command in Casoli, after the battle of the Sangro.  The loyalty and courage of these small groups of partisans in the Maiella, Civitella MR and other towns in the Aventino Valley meant that the Maiella Brigade as they became known were the only partisan formation decorated with military valor after the Second World War.

The Partisans on the Maiella

The walk will continue through No Mans Land and onto Civitella which gave the Germans an uninterrupted view along the Aventino.  Expect to see trenches, mortar posts, dry stone constructions including tholos huts, and memorials that turn the pages of the history of the Second World War and the local people.

DIFFICULTY: And hikers [medium / easy]
TYPE: not ring.
LENGTH: 7 km
DURATION: 5 hours
EQUIPMENT: backpack, comfortable shoes with tread, layered clothing, gloves, hat, water bottle, comfort food, 1l water, walking sticks
COST OF PARTICIPATION: € 15.00 adults and children aged 12 and over years (the fee includes the guided excursion and RCT insurance)

The event on Sunday 5th December is run jointly by the Comune of Civitella MR and Abruzzo’s Geo-park,the Maiella National Park, and held at the new Cultural Auditorium which was opened last week in Civitella. It will detail the plans of the development of tourism along this section of The Gustav Line and will touch on WW2 tourism as well as the planned Military Museum.

Co-authored by Stewart Holland, owner of Casale del Fiume


Sam Dunham
Author: Sam Dunham

Sam is a very lucky midlife 'mamma' to A who is 12 and juggles her work as a self-employed freelance SEO food and travel copywriter and EFL teacher. She is the founder of the Life In Abruzzo Cultural Association, co-founder of Let's Blog Abruzzo. she is the founder of the 'English in the Woods' initiative, teaching English outdoors in a forest style school.

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