Monte Soratte bunker opens to visitors

To mark the 70th anniversary of the Allied bombardment

The group of local enthusiasts that has cleaned and opened long stretches of the mysterious bunker in the entrails of Mount Soratte will take visitors on guided tours on the weekend of 3-4 May.

First used as a secret government installation during the fascist era, the extensive bunker became the headquarters of Field Marshall Kesselring during the nazi occupation. In May 1944 it suffered an intense bomb attack. Legend has it that gold bullion stolen from the Bank of Italy during the occupation was hidden in the galleries, but it has never been found. In the post-war years it was re-modelled at make an atomic bunker for the Italian government in case of nuclear attack, but then closed and abandoned until the amateur archaeologists began to restore it and, bit by bit, make it safe for visitors. Some 4 km of tunnel are now accessible.

Visitors will also see second world war vehicles and actors in period uniform during the weekend, as well as an air show with period aircraft. The proceeds from the sale of tickets (€7 full price, €5 children and over-75s) are entirely dedicated to the cost of ongoing restoration work.

The entrance to the bunker – open to the public only during the organised weekends – is in the pretty village of Sant’Oreste, a 45-minute drive north of Rome. The bunker website provides full details on booking for the guided tours, as well as detailed advice for visitors. Warm clothing and comfortable footwear are recommended, and a torch is obligatory, as some of the areas are without lighting. Participation is not recommended for people suffering from claustrophobia, wearing high heels, or with children in strollers.

A fascinating film about the bunker and other caves and archaeological remains on Mount Soratte, with a detailed commentary in Italian, is available on false;" href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vcsexv3kiLw">YouTube.

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