The nostalgic heart of Gaeta
Some say the city of Gaeta is named after Caieta, Aeneas’ nurse, who, according to tradition, is buried here. Others believe it derives from the Greek word for the “hollow” of the famous gulf. In any case, we know the city has a very ancient history that still lingers in some areas, including the medieval quarter of Sant’Erasmo, documented as early as the time of ducal Gaeta and the maritime republics.
There is a sense of decadent nostalgia in the streets, visibly scarred by the bombings of World War II. However, you can still admire 12th-century houses along the narrow streets, among stairs, underpasses and arches.
The medieval quarter has two hearts. The first is the Church of San Giovanni a Mare, a 10th-century Romanesque building clearly influenced by Byzantine style. The second is the Cathedral, consecrated in the 12th century. Inside is a splendid marble paschal candlestick, while outside stands the imposing Arab-Sicilian bell tower, featuring interlaced arches, inlays and majolica.
It is dominated by the 18th-century Aragonese-Angevin castle, later extended in the 13th and 16th centuries. Finally, don’t miss the Church of the Annunziata with its Gratta d’oro (Golden Grotto), the Sanctuary of Montagna Spaccata, with the mausoleum of Lucius Munazio Planco, and the characteristic street Via dell’Indipendenza.