The American Florence Cemetery is located approximately 7.5 miles south of Florence. This past Sunday – after ten years of driving past the cemetery (which is viewable from the superstrada between Florence and Siena) – I finally took the exit to pay a long-overdue visit. The cemetery is the final resting place of over 4,000 American soldiers killed in Italy during World War II.
It was 1:00 p.m., and the temperature hovered around 100 degrees F. I drove into the property and followed the uphill road that took me to the main memorial. The memorial is elegantly designed and beautifully maintained (as is the cemetery itself). It’s composed of two peaceful and dignified atria – southern and northern – both of which are overpowering in their simplicity and elegance. The atria are joined by an exterior wall on which the names of the missing are engraved.
I was the only visitors on that blazingly-hot summer afternoon, which only added to the power and poignancy of what I witnessed. Four thousand four hundred and two American soldiers are buried within the cemetery’s 70 acres. Row after row of headstones, in perfect symmetry, show the enormity of the sacrifice that these soldiers made, and reflect the loss that their families endured.
If your plans ever take you to the Florence area , I encourage all Americans to visit this sacred place.
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