Our third day of touring took us to the Invasion Museum in Catania. After that we departed for Troina, sight of the worst battle of the Sicilian campaign ending the day in the resort of Taormina where we were "treated" to an eruption of Mount Etna.
|The Sicily Invasion Museum, oriented towards the civilian population, reminds us of the suffering of the Sicilian people during the fighting and in particular, during the bombing raids. The visitor first enters through a simulated neighborhood in Catania. Suddenly, an air raid siren sounds and we hurry into the nearby shelter. A multi-media depiction of the raid from within the sheltr is faithfully recreated in sound, light and motion. We emerge to a smoking (you can even smell it) ruin of bombed-out buildings in a neighborhood that no longer exists. ...And that's just the entrance. The entire museum is well worth the visit.
|The museum is part of a cultural center built out of the ruins of a factory destroyed in a 1943 bombing raid, called "The Chimneys."
|The center also has a museum of Italian Cinema.
|The approach to Troina. Our route takes us toward Troina from the south. This view is typical of the terrain around Troina. In this area, the 18th infantry fought its way around the southern approach to Troina in an attempt to encircle the town.
|Troina is the highest city in Sicily and commands route 120, one of three only roads to Messina. The east coast road was in the British zone of action. Route 120, the central route and the north coast road were in the American sector. The German Army, now forced to evacuate Sicily, set up lines of defense to slow the the American and British advances, allowing them to evacuate successfully across the narrow waterway between Messina and Calabria. Each line was held until the last moment by experienced, crack troops. The San Fratello line extended in a semi-circle from San Fratello on the north road, through Troina to Catania.
|Troina, seen from the south, was the nightmare of the 1st Infantry Division. San Fratello would test the 3rd Infantry Division and my cousin Sidney Heistein. Unfortunately, we were unable to visit San Fratello, but the terrain and obstacles were similiar to Troina - so were the casualty rates.