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Halfway between Rome and Naples lies Gaeta, a popular destination for many visitors along Italy’s western coast. Here the deep blue sea and inviting beaches steadily give way to green hills, and the busy modern centre hides some remarkable ancient treasures for keen sightseers.
Gaeta is home to wide, golden beaches which are very popular with tourists and native Italians alike – but there are also some fantastic landmarks in and around the city too. See one of Italy’s most historic castles, built on a rocky hill looking out over the bay; head around the city’s medieval quarter and discover a wealth of architectural styles; or take a trip out to see a magnificent natural attraction on the rocky coast.
The city’s rich history and militaristic past is best seen in the walls of Gaeta Castle, which date right back to the 9th century. The solid stone walls were further fortified several times over the centuries, when the city was under the threat of invasion by Saracens, and the Gothic and Lombardic tribes from western Europe. The castle sits on the crown of a rocky outcrop stretching out into the bay – a strategic position which once made it one of the strongest fortresses in Italy.
Many of Gaeta’s sightseeing attractions centre on its medieval heritage, and there’s no shortage of age-old architecture to see during your time in the city. Gaeta’s Old Town is home to the ‘Duomo’ – the Cathedral of St Erasmus, a popular landmark and home to an impressive collection of artworks and reliefs. Elsewhere in town you’ll find the Church of Saint Lucia, thought to be the oldest in Gaeta; and the Mausoleum of Munatius Plancus, a circular stone building where one of Caesar’s generals was buried in 22 BC. Iniside, you’ll find the four chambers as well as the tomb itself, which house a classical statue of the general, as well as modern sculptures in one of the adjoining chambers.
The picturesque sea grotto at Montagna Spaccata is another very popular tourist destination, seen as a steep cliff from Serapo across the bay. Once you take a trip inside, you’ll find that the mountain is split in half, and stepped walkways provide access between the towering walls of the rocky crevice. At the far side, you’ll find the Grotto del Turco – a magnificent rocky shore pressed in between the rocky walls, where the turquoise sea creeps in.
Its position between Rome and Naples makes Gaeta a fantastic place for shopping, especially with its popularity as a tourist destination. Here you’ll find a great choice of high-quality leather goods, as well as a milder variety of fresh olive oil made using the local Itrana olives.
Those looking for an authentic taste of Italy won’t be disappointed during their time in Gaeta. Here you’ll find a range of classic restaurants and pizzerias, many of which specialise in serving up the local fish and shellfish with fresh pasta and a good glass of wine. For dessert be sure to try a bowl of gelato, which is equally popular with tourists from Italy and from overseas.
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