Dramatically perched on a mountaintop near the regional border with Campania, the Abbazia di Montecassino was one of the most important Christian centres in the medieval world. St Benedict founded it in 529 AD, supposedly after three ravens led him to the spot, and lived there until his death in 547.
The abbey's history, which is illustrated in its small museum, has been turbulent and it has been destroyed and rebuilt several times, most recently after WWII.
During the war, it was at the centre of heavy fighting as the Germans sought to stop the Allied push north. After almost six months of bloody deadlock, the Allies bombed it to rubble in May 1944 in a desperate bid to break through German defences.
To reach the abbey from Rome, take one of the half-hourly trains from Stazione Termini to Cassino (€8.40, 1½ to two hours) and then one of the three daily buses that run up from the station.