Loyola University Chicago

John Felice Rome Center

World War Two

Italian Invasion & Roman Resistance in World War II

October 19th and 20th: SLAs Anna Springer and Tim Bertucci led by Prof. Anne Wingenter and JFRC alumni Jim Centner and Phil O'Connor

Group Photo 

On 19-20 October, distinguished JFRC alumni Phil O’Connor and Jim Centner led their famed twice-annual "Italian Invasion & Roman Resistance in World War II" study trip,  along with modern history professor Anne Wingenter and SLAs Anna Springer and Tim Bertucci.

The weekend consisted of two day trips in which students were able to learn about Italy’s and Rome’s relationships to the Second World War. Students visited various important sites for the Italian campaign, including museums, cemeteries, and even two sites of battle. Phil and Jim, who are the primary planners and funders of the trip, served as not only tour guides but also as a valuable thread into the JFRC’s past.

The first day began with a trip to the German military cemetery at Pomezia. Students observed a bit of the cultural spirit of the cemetery and heard from the leaders a bit about its context. Next the group headed to Piana delle Orme, a large museum full of machinery, vehicles, and memorabilia from the WWII era. After much time to explore the exhibits and have some lunch, students and staff went to the Sicily-Rome American Cemetery, one of two burial places for the fallen in the Italian campaign. After laying a wreath at the "Brothers in Arms" monument, students visited various graves and read memoirs and letters regarding specific people, including one Loyola graduate.

Day two had its focus on the city of Rome itself, beginning with the Fosse Ardeatine, the caves where 335 Italians were executed in retaliation for a partisan attack on their Nazi occupiers. The group then traveled to the Museo della Liberazione, housed in the former Gestapo headquarters of Rome, and saw a great deal of memorabilia and documents from the era. Lastly Phil and Jim took students to Via Rasella and to the actual site of the partisan attack which resulted in the civilian massacre as reprisal. Students enjoyed lunch at L'Archetto restaurant, and afterwards some of the group continued onward to the Museo di Roma to see a Robert Capa photography exhibit, full of firsthand views into the war and its effects on Europe, particularly in Italy.