The Florence American cemetery and memorial, close to Hotel Villa le Barone in Chianti, is a very moving place to visit. It is a tranquil, peaceful spot, bringing so many emotions to the visitor! The British and German Florence war cemeteries, also close, are poignant places as well.
The American cemetery is close to the Greve river, in the wooded hills of Chianti which rise several hundred feet above the 28 hectares (70 acres) cemetery to which they provide a wonderful frame in the greenery with cypresses, pine trees… The American Cemetery was established in 1960 to bury and be a memento to the America’s service members who died in the fighting that followed the capture of Rome in June 1944; others soldiers fell in the heavy fighting in the Apennines between then and May 2nd 1945. The headstones of 4,402 men and women are arrayed in symmetrical curved rows upon the hillside. Most of those buried here are from the Fifth Army. Above the graves, at the top of three broad terraces, stands the memorial marked by a tall mast on top of which stands a large sculptured figure. The memorial has two open atria, or courts, joined by the golden inscriptions of the Missing upon which are inscribed 1,409 names. The atrium at the south end of the Tablets of the Missing serves as a forecourt to the chapel, which is decorated with marble and mosaic. The north atrium contains, represented in marble, the operations maps recording the achievements of the American armed forces in this region. Between the two entrance buildings, a bridge on the Greve river leads to the burial area.
Also close by Villa le Barone, there is the Florence British War Cemetery, which contains 1,632 Commonwealth burials of the Second World War. And In the German Cemetery also not far, more than 31.000 soldiers are resting.
When visiting the American Cemetery, one can recall Arthur Rimbaud’s poem written in 1870 during the war between France and Germany: “the Sleeper in the Valley”:
It is a green hollow where a stream gurgles,
Crazily catching silver rags of itself on the grasses;
Where the sun shines from the proud mountain:
It is a little valley bubbling over with light.
A young soldier, open-mouthed, bare-headed,
With the nape of his neck bathed in cool blue cresses,
Sleeps; he is stretched out on the grass, under the sky,
Pale on his green bed where the light falls like rain.
His feet in the yellow flags, he lies sleeping. Smiling as
A sick child might smile, he is having a nap:
Cradle him warmly, Nature: he is cold.
No odour makes his nostrils quiver;
He sleeps in the sun, his hand on his breast
At peace. There are two red holes in his right side