This page provides a quick sketch of Italy's role in WWII; the guidebook has much more information.
In June 1940, Benito Mussolini chose to ally Italy's forces with those of Adolf Hitler. Soon German and Italian armies were battling Allied troops on several fronts. After defeating German and Italian forces in North Africa, Allied troops crossed over to Sicily in July 1943 and took the island in thirty-nine days.
In part due to the Allies' conquest of Sicily, Italian leaders deposed Mussolini on July 25, 1943. Six weeks later, they withdrew from their alliance with Germany and signed an armistice with the Allies. German troops immediately occupied Italian towns and cities, seizing control of local governments and taking what they needed in terms of supplies.
Over the next twenty months, Allied forces gradually forced German troops out of Italy in a series of grueling battles known as the Italian campaign (1943-1945). Today, the war is remembered throughout Italy in monuments, battlefields, museums, and cemeteries. These places remind us that tens of thousands of soldiers were killed in combat on Italian soil, thousands of Italian Jews died in concentration camps, and many Italian civilians were executed for participating in the Resistance.
www.travelguidepress.com A Travel Guide to World War II Sites in Italy