One may wonder why Sopot’s main street, Bohaterów Monte Cassino (The Heroes of Monte Cassino), carries the name of an Italian town. No, it's not because of the accumulation of classy Italian restaurants in the area, although many Polish-Italians may have been attracted to the name!
The truth is that it commemorates one of the proudest achievements in modern Polish military history. In 1943, after a successful invasion of Sicily, Allied forces moved to the continent and it seemed nothing could stop them until they approached a mountain range on the way to Rome. The area was occupied by the Germans defending what was called the Gustav Line, at the heart of which lay Monte Cassino. The battle that followed was actually a series of four intense battles which took place between January 20 and May 18, 1944, culminating at a 1,300-year-old Benedictine monastery on the top of the 1,100 metre Monte Cassino. Involving British, US, Indian, French, North African, New Zealand, Ghurkha and Polish troops, fierce fighting raged against the Germans on a slow and brutal advance towards the monastery. At a cost of over 25,000 lives the final battle ended on the morning of May 18 when a reconnaissance group of soldiers from the Polish 12th Podolian Uhlans Regiment finally fought their way through to the completely devastated monastery. The Battle of Monte Cassino was won, the Gustav Line broken and the Allied advance on Rome continued. Today it is one of Poland’s most famous streets, frequently clogged in high season, and fondly known as Monciak (Mon-chack) to the locals.