Cassino is located in the lower part of the province of Frosinone, on the border with the Campania region, in the area once called "Terra di Lavoro". The ancient "Casinum" was originally set between the Samnites' territory and the Volsci's one; when it was conquered by the Romans, in 313 b.C., it became an important military outpost, confirmed by Varro, Strabo and Pliny the Elder. In 529 Benedict from Norcia realised his Abbey here in Montecassino, thus creating the Benedictine order. The Abbey was built on the ruins of an ancient pagan temple (probably dedicated to the god Apollo): Benedict from Norcia destroyed the pagan effigies and sanctified the area to San Giovanni Battista. Here he realised the Benedictine Rule, received Trotila, king of the Ostrogoths, and stayed in this abbey until his death. It represents the center of the spread of monasticism in the whole Western World and was destroyed several times during the centuries: by the Lombards in 580, by the saracens in 883, by a terrible earthquake in 1343 and, finally, during the bombing of the Second World War on February 15th 1944. Rebuilt by the Italian State, in addition to the imposing abbey it is also possible to visit the Basilica, the Museum and the Library. The relics of both St. Benedict and St. Scholastica are preserved in the crypt below the magnificent main altar.
We also suggest to visit:
- the archaeological area of the ancient Casinum, consisting of the amphitheater (I century a.D.), built by the Roman matron Ummidia Quadratilla, the theater, of the Augustan period, still used for concerts and events, Ummidia Quadratilla's mausolum and the paved road.
- the Janula fortress, built by the abbot Aligerno in the X century, at the slopes of the Cairo Mount, in order to defend the population from the frequent incursions;
- Varro's Baths, so called due to the remains of a villa owned by Varro;
- the Ninfeo Ponari, consisting of a rectangular room with a mosaic floor imitating marble slabs.