The Florence American War Cemetery

May 26, 2014 / Places
Florence, Tuscany
Many are privileged to have traveled through the magnificent hills of Tuscany. However, there was a time when all was not so peaceful and bucolic.

Having had a father serve in fierce fighting during World War II, and knowing that many of his buddies perished in those battles, we could not pass American War Veterans Cemetery without stopping to pay our respects. Your heart breaks as you drive onto 70 acres of grounds where over 4,400 American men are buried, 1,400 of whom are unknown…

“Here Are Recorded The Names Of Americans
Who Gave Their Lives In The Service Of Their
Country And Who Sleep In Unknown Graves.”

The rows and rows of crosses and stars of David stand on a sloping hillside. The only sounds you hear are chirping birds and the rush of the river below.

The memorial has two atria and a stone travertine wall containing the Tablets of the Missing Soldiers. Military operations are outlined on a granite wall of intarsia marble, and there is a chapel on the grounds where there is always someone present to escort family members to a grave site.

The Florence American Cemetery and Memorial is south of Florence on Via Cassia, surrounded by woods, on the banks of the Greve River, on land that was liberated in August 1944. A visit that adds another dimension to one’s Tuscan experience.


– Courtesy of Carol DeLucia for the 1st Anniversary Reader’s Note Contest, many thanks! Final photo courtesy of Rick Hayden, thank you!

21 Responses to “The Florence American War Cemetery”

  1. Catherine Brettman

    I had dinner last night with my 90 year old uncle, David Chisholm, who was the young soldier who modeled for this statue. He spoke a bit about his experience in the war in Italy, so it’s very moving to see this statue knowing what he was feeling at the time. I hope to get over to Florence some time soon to see it in person. Thank you for preserving this beautiful memorial.

    Reply
    • Gary Ostrower

      Catherine: You wrote three years ago that your uncle, David Chisholm, modeled for the statue at the American cemetery in Florence. Would you please email me so that I;can email you in return about this subject? Thanks, Gary Ostrower, Alfred University, Alfred,m NY 14802. ostrower@alfred.edu

      Reply
  2. Nina Sgriccia

    There is nothing more moving than a U.S. military cemetery in a foreign land. We have seen the one in Anzio, but will be sure to visit this one on our next trip. Thank you for this note.

    Reply
  3. Alison Wardle

    We went once. It’s very moving. They were mostly just kids, 18-20 years old. We were the only people there at the time, and got all choked up. Poor boys!

    Reply
  4. Annamaria

    So happy you included this in today’s notebook. Generation born after WW2 need to be reminded of the raw courage it took to fight in this war and the price they paid. Wars will never again be fought in this way.
    God bless all those who serve their country for the good and for everlasting peace.

    Reply
  5. Michael A LeMay

    I visited this cemetery four years ago…. As a Vietnam veteran myself I was very moved with the great care that the Italians’ take with keeping the grounds in impeccable shape….. It obviously shows how honored those American lives still are.

    Reply
  6. Hazel Rotondo Potvin

    Thank you for reminding us today, Memorial Day, of the American cemetery in Florence. I am would like to know more about World War II in Italy in future posts.

    Reply
  7. while searching for places to stay i met on line a woman who’s grandfather (south of florence) hid allied soldiers during the war…..i am looking forward to meeting her and hearing the stories…
    also, will be posting my meeting with a man who lived in Florence as a child during the German occupations…..facinating stories

    Reply
  8. joanne duetsch

    my husband and I just returned from Normandy and visited cemeteries and battle sights…. so touching… this is 70th anniversary of battles fought there…. the next time in Italy we will be sure to visit this sight… my young 19 yr old 1st generation Italian American lost his life in Pacific…. my Italian grandmother grieved every day, i can remember, for him…. i know him through her…. we are last generation with any connection to WWII…. thank you for article…..

    Reply
  9. Joanne Russo Insull

    We were there last year and I was deeply moved by the rows upon rows of graves. The unknown soldiers’ markers, because there is no name, say “Known only yo God’. The intarsios of the allied invasion are incredible. It was certainly a huge effort to liberate Italy and defeat the enemy. We all walking in silence- according the cemetery and the soldiers buried there the respect they deserved. I could not help but think of the mothers of the unknown soldiers- never knowing and never receiving the remains of their children who died for such a noble cause.

    Reply
  10. Cecelia

    Thank you for this beautiful note. My father is buried at the Epinal American cemetery in France and they are similar and treated with great respect as well.

    Reply
  11. Rob Anglin

    Our family spent a year in Florence in 1992 and our daughter attended the American International School there. For Memorial Day all the children from the school went to the cemetery and placed a flower on each American grave – a major undertaking considering the number of Americans buried there. Then on Memorial Day we all attended a ceremony at the cemetery. It was incredibly moving to us to see that the Italians have never forgotten the American’s sacrifices after all these years. They attended with a full contingent of Italian military dressed in their parade uniforms and were joined by a contingent of American soldiers along with the American Consul from Florence. It was especially moving to be on foreign soul and see the bond that still remains between the Italians and Americans. It truly gave us a deep insight into what Memorial Day is really about.

    Reply
  12. This cemetery, like the Sicily-Rome American Cemetery just south of Rome and all other American military cemeteries outside the USA, is run by the American Battle Monuments Commission (www.abmc.gov) who have an online search engine to locate the grave of someone who is buried or listed on a memorial at one of those locations.

    Reply
  13. I live in Florence for a good part of the year. The American Cemetery of Florence is one of my favorite places. It is a sacred place. My father also served in WWII in Italy and so it has special meaning for me as well, Thanks for sharing

    Reply
  14. Giovanni Fulgenzi

    It is a humbling experience indeed to remember those who gave their lives and served to help us when we could not help ourselves. May God bless them!

    Reply
  15. I lived a fantasy year in Firenze in ’71-’72, just a couple decades after the war. Despite many side trips to San Casciano per un gelato con panorama, I’m sorry never to have heard of this sacred cemetery until seeing this Note today. It’s now an important destination for me, to understand the huge sacrifices made for what Italy is for the world today. Grazie per la dedicazione e per il rispetto. Italy holds a special place in my heart, and I love teaching the language. Stories by the few remaining survivors need to be recorded as they are the real history. Books like “Pietro’s Book” are fascinating first hand descriptions of country life in Tuscany, before, during, and after the war. Thanks so much for this Note!!!

    Reply
  16. Andrew Underwood

    There is an equally poignant Commonwealth site in Arezzo for the 1229 who fell liberating Eastern Tuscany and Umbria. See Commonwealth War Graves Commission/ Arezzo for details. June and July sees many towns commemorate the 70th anniversary of their liberation by the US 5th Army, the Free French forces (Siena), and the UK 8th Army, all under the Theatre Command of General (later Lord) Alexander.

    Reply
  17. FRANK DISTEFANO

    My uncle, Charles Garbarino, was wounded in action in Tuscany. When he recovered he was sent back to the front and killed a short time later in 1944. I’ve visited his grave several times at this most beautiful cemetery and the experience was and is overwhelming.

    Reply
  18. Debbie Bowman

    My husbands uncle, Benedict Joseph Bowman, is buried here. Would love to get any information on him and the cemetery. Is there any way to have a wreath laid at his grave? Any info will be greatly appreciated.

    Reply

Leave a Reply