The very first time I went to the Florence American Cemetery was when I was a teenager. I accompanied my father in Florence for business, and during our journey I was attracted by the beautiful area on the side of the road.
I asked to my father what it was and he told me that was the Florence American Cemetery for the buried soldiers of the World War II.
We were the only visitors, and it was a lovely sunny day of summer. I still remember the fresh breeze walking along the grass.
Watching the Latin Crosses and Stars of David installed in the grass, and reading the name of the soldiers, I was trying to imagine the person they were before the war. Even those without a name on their tomb, thinking who they missed in their homeland. I felt grateful for their courage and I was sorry for the unknown soldiers, which had no one who can pray and cry on his grave.
Thanks to those soldiers and to the Italian partisans, Italy finally got the freedom from the occupation, and from the threats of nazi-fascism.
Overview of Florence American Cemetery in Italy
The Florence American Cemetery
The Florence American Cemetery, (also known as Cimitero dei Falciani) is 70 acres of extension in southern Florence, and it is one of fourteen permanent American World War II military cemetery memorial erected outside the USA.
The area where the Florence American Cemetery is, was liberated by the South African 6th Armoured Division on 3 August 1944. Later, it became one of the zone of the U.S. Fifth Army.
Wooden hills and the Greve river frame the Florence American Cemetery. The site was selected after a survey between many temporary cemeteries in northern Italy during World War II. They chose the place with the less objections compared to the other places.
Here, 4,402 woman and servicemen rest in peace. They represent the 39% of the temporary burials originally made between Rome and the Alps. Unfortunately 1,409 soldiers results missed in action. The most of the corps buried here died during the fighting to capture Rome in June 1944. The Florence American Cemetery has three Medals of Honor, two interred and one memorialized.
From Via Cassia there are two entrances to the cemetery. Both of them bring visitors along the eastern bank of the Greve river where parking areas, offices, the visitors’ building are. A small bridge crosses the river connecting the the two banks.
On the western bank of the river, you will see the graves, the memorial, the service area and the superintendent’s quarters. A fine grass mall, with trees on both sides, divides the area in two parts, where 76 Stars of David, 4,322 Latin Crosses are installed.
Location of Cemetery Facilities
A U.S. Navy Color Guard participates in the 2014 Memorial Day Ceremony at Florence American Cemetery in Italy
The Memorial of the Florence American Cemetery
The Memorial of the Florence American Cemetery consists in two open atria, a connecting wall on which tablets with the names of the Missing in the region are affixed, and a chapel.
In the open atria there is a stele surmounted by a sculpture representing the “Spirit of peace“.
The wall contains not only the names of all the heroes died during the war, but also the military insignia such as: Armor, Gunner’s Mate, Aerial Gunner, Coast Artillery Corps, Boatswain’s Mate, Army Air Corps, Corps of Engineers, Infantry, Christian Chaplain, Jewish Chaplain, Field Artillery, Medical Corps, and the Signal Corps, Machinist’s Mate and Aerial Bombardier.
Along the West wall there are also two military operations maps that recall the achievements of the US Army in North of Italy.
There is also a chapel with a carved figure on the door representing “The spirit of American Youth“, and you can even admire an American Eagle.
Flight of Honor - Florence American (WWII) Cemetery
Video Credits: Jeffrey Worthington
A member of the U.S. Army plays “Taps” during the 2016 Memorial Day Ceremony at Florence American Cemetery
A U.S. military honor guard participates in the 2015 Memorial Day Ceremony at Florence American Cemetery – Image courtesy of the U.S. Embassy to Italy
Timetable for visits:
The cemetery is open daily to the public from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., except December 25 and January 1. It is open on host country holidays. When the cemetery is open to the public, a staff member is on duty at the visitor building to answer to any questions and escort relatives to the graves and to the memorial sites.
For further information:
Florence American Cemetery
50023 Tavarnuzze (Firenze)
Photo credits: American Battle Monuments Commission