What to see and where to stay in the seaside resort of Gaeta in Italy

The port and seaside resort of Gaeta on the Lazio coast of Italy

Things to see and do at Gaeta, a charming port between Rome and Naples

Sights of Gaeta in Italy
Gaeta, my hometown.

Gaeta, my home town, is a small fishing port located on a promontory stretching towards the Gulf of Gaeta in the Tyrrhenian Sea. Gaeta is now mainly a seaside resort and is 120 km (75 miles) from Rome and 80 km (50 miles) from Naples. It warm, rainless summers make it very attractive to visitors from Rome and further afield.

Things to see and do at Gaeta
Serapo beach

A big attraction of Gaeta is the ready proximity of beautiful beaches. Serapo beach is 1 km from the centre of Gaeta, on the other side of the promontory. It's a 15 minute walk from my vacation rental apartment. You have to pay to use some parts of the beach, as is standard practice in Italy. Other parts are free.

From Gaeta to Sperlonga there is a stretch of 10 km of coastal beaches separated by rocky bluffs, each with an ancient Genoese watch tower. This stretch of coast is one of the most beautiful on the Italian peninsula. The route is traversed by a coastal road of great charm that connects the seven beaches of Gaeta.

Beaches accessible by car include Sant'Agostino, "300 Scalini" (300 steps), Arenauta and Ariana beach. All of these have free areas with life guards and good facilities. One of the beaches, "40 remi" (40 oars) can be accessed by boat only. Aenea's Landing is a spectacular private beach and resort with bungalows, restaurant etc. This latter is a favorite for wedding receptions.

Secluded cove at the end of Serapo beach
Secluded cove at the end of Serapo beach

The pay to use part of Serapo beach
The pay to use part of Serapo beach

Gaeta is dominated by a huge Aragonese-Angevin castle. The origins of the castle are uncertain but it was probably constructed initially in the 6 C, during the Gothic War, or in the 7 C to defend the town against the advance of the Lombards. It was first documented in 1233. The castle as it now stands, consists of the lower "Angevin" part, dating to the House of Anjou's rule in the Kingdom of Naples and the upper "Aragonese" part, built by emperor Charles V that made Gaeta one of the strongest fortresses in southern Italy.

Aragonese-Angevine castle of Gaeta
The Aragonese-Angevin castle and Gaeta old town

mediaeval lion at Gaeta cathedral
Mediaeval lion at Gaeta cathedral campanile

The Duomo, the Cathedral of Assunta e Sant'Erasmo, was erected over a more ancient church, Santa Maria del Parco, and consecrated by Pope Paschal II in 1106. Its 57 m campanile, in arabo-norman style, is considered the city's finest piece of architecture. At the base of the campanile there are two mediaeval marble lions, and there are numerous other interesting mediaeval sculptures throughout the cathedral. Many ancient Roman architectural elements were also used in its construction. The upper part of the campanile has an octagonal in plan with small Romanesque arches with majolica decoration, and was completed in 1279.

There are several other structures of architectural and artistic interested dotted around inside Gaeta, among them being the Roman Mausoleum of Lucius Munatius Plancus which dates from 22 BC, the Sanctuary of SS. Trinità and the Church of Annunziata dating from 1320 and which was rebuilt at the beginning of the 17 C in Baroque style.  The Church of San Giovanni a Mare was built by the hypate Giovanni IV in the 10 C outside the old sea walls of the city. It is a rare example of abasilica form in Byzantine style. The large church of St. Francis built by Frederick II in very fine Italo-Gothic style and containing paintings and sculpture by many of the most famous Neapolitan artists.

The Mediaeval Quarter of Gaeta is itself of interest. It lies on the steep sides of Mount Orlando and has houses from characteristic of the 11 -13 C.

The most famous folkloric event taking place in Gaeta is Gliù Sciuscio of 31 December, in which bands of young Gaetani in traditional costumes wander through the streets playing tunes often using home made instruments.

Glił Sciuscio Gaeta
Gliù Sciuscio

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