The Garigliano near its mouth
near Cassino (FR)|
c. 130 m (430 ft)
Tyrrhenian Sea near Minturno|
0 m (0 ft)
|Basin size||5,020 km2 (1,940 sq mi)|
|Length||38 km (24 mi) (158 km or 98 mi including the Liri)|
It forms at the confluence of the rivers Gari (also known as the Rapido) and Liri. Garigliano is actually a deformation of "Gari-Lirano" (which in Italian means something like "Gari from the Liri"). In ancient times the whole course of the Liri and Garigliano was known as the Liris.
For the most part of its 40 km (25 mi) length, the Garigliano River marks the border between the Italian regions of Lazio and Campania. In medieval times, the river (then known as the Verde) marked the southern border of the Papal States.
In the 9th and early 10th centuries a band of Arabs established themselves on the banks of the Garigliano, from where they launched frequent raids on Campania and central Italy. In 915 a coalition of the pope, the Byzantines, Franks, Lombards, and Naples defeated the Garigliano Arabs in the Battle of Garigliano.
In 1503 Spanish and French forces fought another battle of Garigliano, in which Piero II de' Medici was drowned, thus control of the Medici family passed to Giovanni de' Medici, later Pope Leo X. The bigger French Army was practically destroyed at little cost to the Spanish, with the remnants later surrendering at Gaeta.
During the Italian Campaign of World War II, the Liri-Gari-Garigliano rivers stood at the centre of a system of German defensive lines (the most famous of which is the Gustav Line) around which the battle of Monte Cassino took place in 1943-1944. Rumours tell that the waters of the river ran red in the Cassino area during the famous battle, because of the blood of the many corpses of soldiers.