The first time I went to the American Cemetery in Florence was when I was a teenager. I was accompanying my father to Florence on a business trip and the beautiful roadside area caught my attention.
I asked my father what it was and he told me that it was the Florence American Cemetery for the buried soldiers of World War II. We were the only visitors, and it was a lovely sunny day in summer. I still remember the fresh breeze walking along the grass.
Watching the Latin Crosses and Stars of David 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 their graves. Thanks to those soldiers and to the Italian partisans, Italy finally got freedom from the occupation, and from the threats of nazi-fascism.
The Florence American Cemetery
The Florence American Cemetery, also known as Cimitero dei Falciani is 70 acres of extension in southern Florence. It is one of fourteen permanent American World War II military cemetery memorials erected outside the USA.
The area that hosts the Florence American Cemetery was liberated by the South African 6th Armoured Division on 3 August 1944. Later, it became one of the zones of the U.S. Fifth Army. Wooden hills and the Greve River frame the Florence American Cemetery.
The site was selected with a survey of many temporary cemeteries created in northern Italy during World War II. They chose the place with fewer objections compared to the other places. Here, 4,402 women and servicemen rest in peace. They represent 39% of the temporary burials originally made between Rome and the Alps. Unfortunately, 1,409 soldiers results missed in action. Most of the corps buried here died during the fighting to capture Rome in June 1944.
The cemetery has three Medals of Honor, two interred and one memorialized. The New Yorker architecture firm McKim, Mead, and White projected the Florence American Cemetery. While two architects also from New York, Clarke and Rapuano, designed the landscape.
Where the Florence American Cemetery is
The cemetery is located on the southern outskirts of Florence. Precisely into the municipality of Tavarnuzze, in the direction of Siena.
Along the Via Cassia, there are two entrances to the cemetery. Both bring visitors along the eastern bank of the Greve River where you find parking areas, offices, and the visitors’ building. A small bridge crosses the river connecting 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 into two parts, where 76 Stars of David, and 4,322 Latin Crosses are installed.
The Memorial of the Florence American Cemetery
The Memorial of the Florence American Cemetery consists of 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 who 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 the 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
How to visit the American Cemetery of Florence
The cemetery is open daily to the public from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., except December 25 and January 1. It is available on host country holidays. When the cemetery is open to the public, a staff member is on duty at the visitor building. They will be pleased to answer any questions and escort relatives to the graves and to the memorial sites. For further information visit the official website of the American Battle Monuments Commission.
This is the address of the site: Via Cassia S.N. 50023 Tavarnuzze (Firenze) Impruneta, Italy. Tel +39 055 202 0020. Email Contacts
Photo credits: American Battle Monuments Commission