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main index © Jeff Matthews entry June 2010
The Garigliano River
The Garigliano river (n. 5, right) is in Campania for only 38 km (24 miles) of its total length of 158 km (98 miles). The complete name of the entire river is the Liri-Garigliano. It starts way up at Mt. Camiciola at 1,701 meters (5600 feet) in the central Apennines near the town of Cappadiocia. As the Lire river, it flows down into Campania and runs through the Liri Valley until it picks up a smaller tributary, the Gari, near the town of Sant'Apollinare nor far from Cassino. It bends sharply to the south-west, is then called the Garigilano, and flows to the sea, forming the boundary between the two provinces of Lazio and Campania. It flows into the Tyrrhenian Sea at Minturno, just south of Gaeta. The Garigliano has a large hydrographic basin and an average discharge of 120 m3/sec, greater than the Volturno.
The Garigliano has a number of important military events connected with it. One was "Battle of Garigliano" in 1503 between the Spanish and French over who was going to "inherit" the kingdom of Naples now that the Aragonese dynasty had merged with that of Castille to form the modern nation state of Spain. You might think that Spain would be the logical choice. The French thought otherwise, so they had a war, decided at the Battle of Garigliano. The Spanish won and ruled Naples for two-hundred years, turning the capital city, Naples, into the largest and best defended city in the Spanish Empire. (Details here.)
Also, in October 1860, a major battle was fought along the Garigliano between the invading northern armies of Piedmont-Sardinia and the defending force of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies (Naples). It was won by the north and was one of the last actions in the process that produced the modern nation state of Italy.
Finally, the name "Cassino" (above) may have tipped off another significant military episode. Indeed, in late 1943, the Liri Valley was nicknamed "Death Valley" by Allied troops trying to break through the endless chain of German defenses just below Monte Cassino. (See this link for a wartime "oral history" account.)
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