Saturday, July 21, 2007

Ponte Dirillo

On July 13, 2007 I had the privilege of attending a ceremony remembering the 39 American paratroopers of the 82nd Airborne that died at Ponte Dirillo in World War II.

"On July 10, 1943 nearly 3,400 members of the 82nd took to the skies in support of Operation Husky, one of the larges amphibious operations during WWII. However, due to foul weather and poor navigation, the troopers missed their drop point in Gela and were scattered for several miles, many coming upon direct fire from German occupied pillboxes located at strategic points along the countryside. 'As they landed they were picked off by the Germans with machine-guns and thirty-nine of these brave American gave their lives defending this bridge from a German counter-offensive that was supposed to bring tanks along its roadway,' said Cdr. Scott Fields. 'Had they not been able to hold off that counter-offensive, its very possible that the landing could have been a lot more difficult than it turned out to be.'" (MC2(AW) Jason T. Poplin, The Signature, Vol. 24, No. 29, July 20, 2007).

The ceremony took place on the hillside next to the memorial site, above the bridge at Ponte Dirillo. The hillside behind us was dotted with the remains of the German pillboxes.

German Pillboxes

Several American and Italian officials paid tribute to the sacrifices made during the ceremony.

Colonel Gordon Davis, former company commander within the 82nd Airborne

Deputy Mayor of Gela

Giovanni di Martino, Mayor of Niscemi

The most moving part of the ceremony was the "calling of the roll" where the names of those who gave their lives were read.

John Hoffpauir, formerly of the 82nd Airborne, calling the roll

Immediately following the "calling of the roll" Taps was played.

Les, my husband, playing Taps

The Ponte Dirillo Memorial

The Ponte Dirillo memorial site is maintained without assistance from the Italian or American governments by the landowner, a local farmer.

Monday, July 02, 2007


Yesterday we finally got out of the house to explore again. The day didn't start off very well. I was grumpy and sleepy, Les & I couldn't agree on breakfast or where to go for the day, and then I had the worst hair day that I've had in awhile. I couldn't even get my hair into a decent ponytail. Finally, after an absurd amount of time my hair sort-of cooperated into a messy bun. I figured it would have to do since I was aching to get out the door.

My grumpiness continued, mostly because I had yet to have my morning dose of espresso. We had decided to catch a cup of coffee at a bar, but I would point one out and my husband would keep driving. He'd offer to turn around, but when I'm on a mission to get somewhere it bugs me to backtrack, so I told him we'd catch the next one.

We arrived in Ragusa about 45 minutes later. As we pulled into town we noticed a brand new shopping center, that amazingly was open on Sunday. We decided to check it out. The doors of the mall opened into a sort of food court. Yay - there was a bar. A cappuccino and pistachio cornetto later the day was starting to look up. Then I noticed a shoe store. We browsed around and I found a very cute and miraculously comfortable pair of wedge strappy sandals that were only 25 Euro. Les bought them for me and I wore them out of the store. The day just kept getting better. The mall was a great find, not huge, but good stores and a lot less crowded than the other shopping centers we have visited on the island.

Once we finished shopping we decided to go see the city of Ragusa. Ragusa is divided into two sections. We visited Ibla. Both are designed in the Baroque style with narrow alleys and stairways and tight winding roads.

Looking down on Ragusa Ibla

Looking up at Chiesa S. Maria Delle Scale

We meandered through the quiet town. Most things are closed on Sunday and very few people were out and about. It was hot out so we didn't wander around for too long. We left Ragusa Ibla and headed down towards the Mediterranean and Marina di Ragusa. There were beautiful, crowded beaches but again we didn't think to bring our swim suits so we enjoyed the view and a gelato and headed home.

Once we were home we set up our new patio canopy that we had picked up earlier that day for a mere 12.90 Euro. I had a couple of glasses of wine and Les grilled steak and vegies. We just sat outside and chatted for awhile. It was a nice way to end the day.

About our patio was nice to have the shade in the back yard, but we got what we paid for. I found the canopy on its side this morning in the middle of the backyard.