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The Route of the Emperors: by boat from Civitavecchia to the Gulf of Gaeta

Boat route
2 days
Number of Stages

Fancy a boat trip to discover the iconic sites of the great Roman emperors, who followed Gaius Julius Caesar between 27 BC and 100 AD? We've put together a two-day itinerary starting from Civitavecchia, on the outskirts of Rome, to the wonderful Gulf of Gaeta, passing through Santa Severa, Fiumicino, Ostia, Anzio and the Pontine Islands on the Route of the Emperors.

Itinerary stages

Day 1

Capo Circeo

Capo Circeo

Our itinerary along the Route of the Emperors starts from the port of Civitavecchia, founded by Emperor Trajan to facilitate trade and contacts between the peoples of the ancient Mare Nostrum and what is still one of Italy's most important ports today. Sailing towards the south, you'll immediately encounter the majestic Santa Severa Castle, built right on the beach. From here, on a 160° course, you will soon sail past a beautiful pine forest. But stay a little offshore to avoid the sandbanks and the Secche di Flavia shallows, which can create undertow if the sea is a little rough.

The first stop is Fiumicino, the ancient port of Claudius and the mooring point for the emperors' triremes, which for almost five centuries brought supplies to what was then the capital of the world. After mooring your boat at Fiumicino, we recommend a visit to Ostia Antica and above all, to the ports of Claudius and Trajan, built in 42 AD and 100 AD respectively.

After stopping to explore Fiumicino, head south again as far as Anzio, the ancient capital of the Volsci and now one of the most beautiful seaside resorts in Lazio. This ancient coastal city was the birthplace of two emperors, Caligula and Nero. Another place definitely worth a visit is the archaeological park with the imperial villa, probably commissioned by Augustus, which was a favourite haunt of many Roman emperors. Following a south-westerly course for about thirty miles, you'll come to one of the most evocative points in the entire Tyrrhenian Sea: Capo Circeo. You can dock at Sabaudia, where Domitian built his villa, or in the smaller harbour of San Felice, where the sorceress Circe had her domain. Give yourself time for a swim, perhaps to the sorceress' cave. Or if you prefer hiking, you can climb to the top of Mount Circeo to enjoy the view.

Day 2



After recuperating and resting overnight, you'll be ready to set off again, this time for the Pontine Islands. In less than 20 miles on a 260° course you'll come to Ponza Porto. The island is an absolute delight, with incomparable beaches such as Chiaia di Luna and an archaeological area rich in history. The island is in the centre of three beautiful rocky islets: Palmarola, Zannone and Gavi. To the southeast, you'll find another two: Ventotene and Santo Stefano. Take some time for a trip to one of them. The Pontine Islands are not only famous for their stunning seabed and majestic cliffs with idyllic coves - they were also once a place of exile. During the Roman Empire, Ventotene was where Augustus exiled his daughter Giulia, Tiberius had Agrippina the Elder deported and Caligula imprisoned his mother Agrippina the Younger.

The great archaeological and hydraulic engineering heritage of these islands is due to the presence here of these illustrious personalities.

From the Pontine Islands you can head back to majestic Gaeta, not forgetting that just to the north-west is the marvellous coastline of Sperlonga, always prized for its beauty, where the Emperor Tiberius chose to build his villa. Dominated by the Aragonese Castle and still surrounded by walls, Gaeta offers fine architecture, historical remains and enchanting natural views, such as the Grotta dei Turchi. Take the time to climb Mount Orlando and visit the Sanctuary of Montagna Spaccata and the Mausoleum of Lucius Munazio Planco, a Roman commander who ended his days here. This is the final stop on our itinerary: enjoy the capitivating waterfront, admire the sunset from Serapo beach and take time to fall in love with the local culinary delicacies, starting with the tasty tiella.

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