Formia - Fishing boats
The Pontine capital and its province exhibit beautiful beaches, overlooking the Tyrrhenian Sea but also charming villages and the nature of the Parco Nazionale del Circeo (Circeo National Park).
Overlooking the Tyrrhenian Sea, the province of Latina is the centre of the Pontine plain. Morphologically very diverse, the province consists of mountains, plains and rivers. Protected natural areas are an important part of the province, with the Parco Urbano (Urban Park) di Monte Orlando a Gaeta, the Parco Naturale (Natural Park) of Aurunci mountains and the Parco Suburbano (Suburban Park) of Gianola.
The Circeo National Park covers about 8500 hectares and has varied features, from forest to coastal dunes, a promontory, wetlands, islands. The park is home to many animal species, more significantly birds, especially migratory species, but also to the peregrine eagle and sea eagles.
The coast and islands of Ponza and Ventotene are the main tourist attraction of the area thanks to the uncontaminated sea. Along the coastline there are also small lakes, natural places of great interest, including Lake Fogliano and Lake Sabaudia.
If Latina and its province are mainly known for the beauty of the coast and the wealth of parks and the natural oasis, the territory is also of great interest for those seeking traces of the past, as well as the appeal of the architecture of the first half of the twentieth-century seen in the urban planning of Latina and Aprilia.
Latina is the capital of the southernmost province of Lazio, in the heart of the Pontine Marshes area. It was founded in 1932 under the name of Littoria, in an area once covered by marshland and drained in the 1930s. The plan of the city is octagonal, with straight roads that radiate off the main square of the city, Piazza del Popolo, and the main buildings, including police headquarters, Prefecture, Municipio (City Hall) are arranged around the centre.
S. Marco Square is overlooked by the Cathedral of the same name, completed in 1933 and entrusted to the Salesians, easily recognizable by the façade and its three tall arches supported by pillars. Not far away, there is the M building, of monumental height and form, consisting of 3 blocks in the shape of an “M”, as the initial letter of the surname Mussolini, who wanted to establish here a tribunal.
History, nature and a splendid sea are the ingredients for a holiday in these places, especially in summer. On the coast close to the beaches, we encounter Sperlonga, a charming medieval village with streets and houses overlooking the sea, where, in addition to the deep colour of the sea, one can see the cave of Tiberius, a cavity open to the sea water, where artefacts were found dating back to the first century and now kept in the National Archaeological Museum of San Felice Circeo. This town, a renown tourist resort on the coast, comprises an elevated medieval part on Mount Circeo, and a modern part at the foot of the mount. Formia, a charming town overlooking the Gulf of Gaeta, has beautiful beaches and exhibits visible traces of Roman times.
And then there's Terracina, dominated by the temple of Jupiter Anxur reachable by a scenic road, with its Piazza del Municipio (Town Hall Square) in the old town where is also located the medieval Duomo (Cathedral) dedicated to St. Cesareo, with a wide staircase that leads to a porch with columns. To the side, the fourteenth-century Palazzo Venditti and the Frumentaria Tower where is housed the Museo Civico Archeologico (Archaeological Museum) which keeps finds from local excavations, in particular Roman remains.
Finally there's Gaeta, which is located on a spit of land on which dominates Monte Orlando. The castle is reachable by the narrow streets of the characteristic medieval quarter, and then, located close to the harbour is the Duomo, dedicated to St. Erasmus and embellished with Moorish decorations, easily recognizable from the monumental 57-metre high bell tower. The Chiesa di San Giovanni al mare (Church of St. John By-the-Sea) dates from the tenth century, and is recognizable by the beautiful spherical dome in Arabic style; the floor was built with a slight inclination to allow the flow of water at high tide.
Roman archaeological remains of great value can be seen in Cori, Norma, Sezze, Monte San Biagio and Ninfa with its memorable historic garden, a natural monument that exhibits specimens of flora and fauna from around the world in imitation of English gardens.
Castles, fortresses and medieval churches are located in Cori, Fondi, Maenza, Priverno with the Fossanova Abbey, Minturno and Sermoneta.
Besides the numerous seaside resorts which make it an ideal destination for summer holidays, thanks to its parks, the province of Latina is particularly suitable for outdoor activities.
In the Natural Park of Circeo one can practice trekking and horse riding or cycling. The park has a diverse ecosystem and is home to many animal species, with about 25 different species of birds including coots and cormorants and rare species like the peregrine falcon, osprey, sea eagle, crane, flamingo and spoonbill.
On the coast it is worth seeing the small pretty lakes of Fogliano and Sabaudia that offer the chance for those who practice birdwatching to see migratory and sedentary birds, such as wild ducks and waders.
For sailing and diving enthusiasts, the waters of the Pontine Islands are an ideal destination. The Pontine Islands consist of two groups of islands of volcanic origin: the westernmost includes Ponza, Gavi, Zannone and Palmarola while the easternmost includes Ventotene and Santo Stefano. They are known by sea lovers for the crystal clear blue sea and also for the fun activities that can be enjoyed, especially in summer.
Many traditional folklore festivals take place in every town of the province. In Cori takes place the Carosello dei Rioni (Tournament of the City Wards), whose contestants, wearing 16th century costumes and representing the three districts of Porta Signina, Ninfina and Romana, compete in the palio dell’anello (ring jousting). In Norma is held the Sagra della Caldarrosta (Festival of chestnuts): for the occasion stalls and huts are put up, built with chestnut wood and leaves, where one can taste roasted chestnuts.
In Sonnino, the night before the religious celebration of the Ascension the beautiful Sagra delle Torce (Festival of Torches) takes place. Immersed in enchanting scenery, at night, a long procession lit by torches walks up the slopes of the mountains to arrive at dawn at the Sanctuary of Madonna delle Grazie. Evocative is the Sagra delle Regne (Festival of wheat sheaves) held in the centre of Minturno, where the wheat sheaves transported by ox-drawn carriages are beaten in the town square. The grain is thrown into the air and then offered, to give thanks for a good harvest.
The Local cuisine is tied to the products of the land in this highly agricultural area, but also to products offered by the sea.
Agricultural products are combined to create tasty dishes commonly inspired by the typical Roman cuisine, such as roasted abbacchio (lamb) with potatoes; pajata; coda alla vaccinara (oxtail); garofolato lamb and other specialities.
Many are the typical products in the area. These include: mozzarella; marzolino, a hard slightly matured cheese with a sweet flavour; prosciutto (ham) of Bassiano flavoured with a seasoning made with wine, garlic and pepper and matured; Cori ham, and Gaeta olives.
Excellent are the sausages from Monte San Biagio and other towns of Latina province, prepared using the best part of the pig, spiced with coriander and preserved in oil.
Traditional sweets are mostly dry biscuits, apple fritters, classic and fried doughnuts, wine doughnuts, some of which are available mainly during local festivities.
Wine production includes many local DOC, including the Aprilia Trebbiano and Merlot and Circeo Trebbiano, a selection of white, red and rosé wines. Also known are Moscato di Terracina, one of the most representative I.G.T. wines, and Aleatico.
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