Campo Imperatore, on the Gran Sasso...
...part of a special trip in 2018
2018 proved to be a rather unusual year for my wife and I. We managed to have two holidays, and both outside of the UK. The second, which took place in July, was when we went to spend a week with our eldest daughter and her partner, staying with his family in L'Aquila in Italy, in the mountains east of Rome. There is a separate story to L'Aquila, a town still recovering from a major earthquake back in 2009. That is a separate story in itself and beyond the scope of this one.
A quick drive along the motorwaty from L'Aquila is the Gran Sasso, and in particular a hotel/ski resort known as the Campo Imperatore. It was from that hotel, in 1943, where German Falschirmjager, accompanied by SS officer Otto Skorzenny, freed Benito Mussolini from his Italian captors and flew him to meet Hitler in Berlin. In my opinion it remains one of the most remarkable special missions of WW2. The paratroopers landed in 10 DFS 230 gliders, the same type used to make the pinpoint landing on top of Fort Eban Emael in Belgium in 1940. Not only did the gliders manage to land intact (just one was seriously damaged) but they also were able to fly in a Feisler Storch aircraft to fly out with Mussolini to a staging airfield near Rome, and transfer him to another aircraft for his onward journey to Berlin. If you are interested the historical story of the raid then there is an excellent book published this year by Pen & Sword Books, 'Freeing Mussolini', one I have reviewed in the Books section of this site.