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Benvenuti / Welcome to


Benvenuti / Welcome to


(page 6 of 9)

Flickr photo © Mimmo Feola

Outside of the Sanctuary of the Madonna del Colle

Views of “Terra Vecchia” from the Sanctuary of the Madonna del Colle

During the 19th century the area was plagued by gangs of ruthless brigands which robbed and plundered travellers and also the local population.  One infamous bandit who operated in this area was known as Chiavone, his real name was Luigi Alonzi.

Agriculture was always the main local industry, but lack of work, harsh living conditions and poverty forced many families to leave in the early 1900's in search of a new life and better prospects  There was another wave of emigration following World War II.  People from Lenola emigrated to the United States, Canada, Brazil Argentina, Venezuela, Australia, Germany, Switzerland, Belgium, England, Iran and Libya. Many of Lenola’s emigrants return to their home-town during the summer months.

During the Second World War the small town and its inhabitants suffered greatly.  Lenola was occupied by German troops who were defending their stronghold of the Gustav Line. Many of the local men were rounded up, homes were sequestrated and plundered. Lenola became a command centre of the Germans, and a field hospital was set up there to cater for their wounded troops.

Lenola was subjected to heavy bombardments and shelling by the Allied Forces.  At 10.30 of the morning of 23 January 1944, coinciding with the Anglo-American landing at Anzio, 58 civilians were killed, including 13 children, and many more wounded. It is said that many more would have been killed if it was not for the fact that most people were in church attending Mass. Many of the Lenolesi fled and took refuge in the local countryside and mountains, hiding what sparse food supplies they could muster. There were further bombardments and shelling during the month of May which caused yet more misery and devastation.

The Allies, finally after several months of fierce fighting, succeeded in breaking through the German Gustav Line.  This success was mainly due to the actions of the knife-wielding Moroccan troops of the French Expeditionary Corps who were skilled in mountain warfare. Prior to the assault in May 1944, in encouragement, it is alleged that the French commander General Juin, told his Moroccan troops: “For fifty hours you will be the absolute masters of what you will find behind the enemy. Nobody will punish you for what you will do, nobody will ask you what you get up to.”  

The Moroccans swarmed over the mountains, taking the Germans by surprise and forcing their retreat. Following the news that the Gustav line had been breached, the locals expected the Americans to soon come with aid. After a fierce battle Lenola was finally liberated on 21st May.  However, it was the French Moroccan troops that were the first to arrive.  

Over the following few days many brutal atrocities and war crimes were to take place.  The fierce and aggressive Moroccan Goumier soldiers separated the Italian men from the woman and went on to carry out lootings, beatings, shootings, murder and mass gang rape of the local population.  Many men who tried to defend their women folk were killed or raped in turn.

Norman Lewis, the British intelligence officer and author, investigated various allegations and found ‘wholesale rape’ in many of the local villages.  A girl aged 16 from Lenola was interviewed: “I was taken and violated four times by Moroccans. There was a twelve-year-old girl with me…who suffered the same violation.”  

Lewis recorded “In Lenola, which fell to the Allies on May 21, fifty women were raped but – as there were not enough to go round - children and even old men were violated.”

On 25 May an Italian General wrote to General Mark Clarke:  “At any hour of the day or night, men and women, old and young, are subject to acts of force of every type, which range from beatings to carnal violence, woundings to murder. I beg your Excellency …. intervene for the honour of the Allied cause.”

You can read more about these terrible incidents in the book :

The Day Of Battle: The War in Sicily and Italy 1943-44 by Rick Atkinson.

Many of the local villages of lower Ciociara suffered in a similar way. Italian sources say that more than 7,000 people were raped by Goumiers, some of the victims died from their terrible injuries many others were left both physically and mentally scarred.

The author Alberto Moravio spent time in the nearby village of Campodimele during this period, and took inspiration from these tragic times to write his novel “La Ciociara”.  It tells the story of a woman trying to protect her young daughter from the horrors of war.  In 1960 a film version was released, entitled “La Ciociara” or “Two Women”. This was directed by Vittore De Sica and starred Sophia Lauren, for which she won the Academy Award for Best Actress.

For its suffering and the bravery of its inhabitants during these terrible times of war Lenola was later awarded the Gold Medal for Civil Merit.

"A small town of a few thousand inhabitants, occupied by German troops engaged in the defence of the Gustav line, suffered a violent bombardment which caused the death of fifty-eight civilians and man other were injured. The survivors were forced to evacuate the town and to find refuge in the surrounding countryside. With the arrival of the Allies the townhad recorded hundreds of acts of brutal violence on women and men by the Moroccan troops. An admirable example of the spirit of sacrifice and love of their home town. "   - Lenola (LT), 1943-1944.

Monuments to Lenola’s victims of war are located in the Memorial Park.

There are splendid views of the coast from Lenola.

Some typical food products of Lenola are:  Table Olives and Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Lamb and Baby Goat, Sausages, Marzolino Cheese, Ricotta and Mozzarella, Black Truffles, Wild Mushrooms and Chestnuts.

Traditional dishes include: Fettuccine and home-made Gnocchi with Wild mushrooms, Caprettone (baby goat), Pettole con Fagiole (egg pasta with beans), Lumache alla Mentuccia (snails with mint), Tripetta (tripe), Ribs of Lamb and Goat Stew, and various biscuits known as "Taralli", “Tortari”, “Tozzetti”,“Struffoli di Carnevale” “Pupate di Pasqua” and “Tarallucci al vino”.

Itri Film La Ciociara Two Women Sophia Loren

photo © Valerio1947 - flickr

photo © Valerio1947 - flickr

photo © Valerio1947 - flickr

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