The Pearl of the Tyrrhenian Sea: beaches, nature, history and legends
Dating back to a valiant, 9th-century maritime republic, Gaeta, in the province of Latina, is an unmissable gem of Lazio.
Surrounded by the mighty walls of the Angevin Aragonese Castle, Gaeta’s historic centre is a collection of narrow streets and small porticoes. Worth visiting are the Sanctuary of the Santissima Annunziata, home to the codices of the amanuensis monks, and the Churches of S. Maria della Sorresca, Saint John Evangelist “a Mare” and Saint Francis of Assisi.
It is flanked on one side by the sea, and on the other by Monte Orlando. Towering over Gaeta is the Montagna Spaccata (cracked mountain), said to be linked to Christ’s death, when an earthquake split the rock in three. You will be enchanted by the breathtaking view when exploring the promontory on foot. Other unmissable sites include the Sanctuary of the Most Holy Trinity – a renowned pilgrimage destination founded in 930 by the Benedictine Fathers on the ruins of a Roman general’s villa – and the Grotta del Turco cave, accessible via a 300-step staircase. The route, now a prayer site, is marked by the stations of the Way of the Cross with mid-19th-century majolica panels, partly restored and decorated with poetic verses by Metastasio.
Finally, the beaches. Gaeta is famous for its ten kilometres of coastline, with fine, golden sand interspersed with small bays and rocky outcrops. The highlight is Serapo, bathed by a crystal-clear sea. Be sure to photograph the famous “Nave”, a large rock with an elongated shape resembling a boat.