Gaeta is a picturesque, coastal city, surrounded by the Aurunci Mountains and the deep blue sparkling sea, situated near to the southern border of Lazio and the Campania region.  It is built on a peninsula which reaches out into the Tyrrhenian Sea, on the one side it encloses the spectacular Gulf of Gaeta, a broad sweep of bay which stretches down towards Naples, on the other is the wide expanse of golden sand, Serapo Beach.





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Benvenuti / Welcome to

Itri


Benvenuti / Welcome to

Gaeta


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Gaeta in South Lazio Italy Gaeta in South Lazio Italy

Photo © Luigi Versaggi


Photo © Luigi Versaggi


Gaeta has had a long and colourful history It is believed that Gaeta was first colonised by the Ionic Samian people.   Then according to legend, after the fall of Troy, the Greek heroes Ulysses and Aeneas are said to have sailed the Tyrrhenian Sea and the survivors eventually landed on these shores.  Among the companions of Aeneas was his nurse Caijeta who, it is said, died in this area and hence gave her name to the city. Later the name was modified to Gaeta.  


Even during Roman times, Gaeta was renowned as a splendid holiday resort and many a wealthy and influential Roman built their summer villas along this beautiful coastline. Gaeta also benefited from a good deep water harbour.


Following the fall of the Roman Empire Gaeta became part of the enlarged Byzantine Empire, however in the 9th century it became an autonomous Duchy.  The fortified maritime city was naturally protected because of its strategic position, placed high on a promontory, almost completely surrounded by sea, but its defences were further strengthened by the  building  of walls  and  towers.  Thus the city and port prospered and successfully resisted Saracen invasions.

Aeneas and Ullsses in Gaeta Italy Castle of Gaeta in South Lazio Italy Castle of Gaeta in South Lazio Italy

In the 11th century it was ruled by the Normans, during the 12th century by the Sicilians, before passing on to the Anjou and Aragon dynasties.  The fortifications were further strengthened during the 15th and 16th centuries.

Through the ages the town was repeatedly attacked by Spanish, Sardinian, Austrian and French forces, and endured several arduous sieges. Gaeta became known as being one of the strongest fortresses in Europe.

Finally Gaeta was ruled by Bourbons and was the most northerly post of their Kingdom of Naples / Kingdom of Two Sicilies.  After the fall of Naples to Garibaldi, Francis II and  his remaining 1200 men of the Neapolitan Realm made a stand from within Gaeta’s formidable fortifications.  They withstood a lengthy siege and heavy bombardments, but were finally forced to surrender in February 1861.  

The centre of the medieval quarter is steeped in history and rich in ancient monuments, mansions, and palaces.  It is a labyrinth of narrow winding streets, alleys and stairways.

Gaeta Old Medieval Town Italy Gaeta Window With Pot Plants Gaeta Italy  Fountain Castle of Gaeta in South Lazio Italy Gaeta Old Medieval Town and Port Gaeta Old Medieval Town Gaeta History

Consequently, this led to the formation of the new unified Republic of Italy.

Today the imposing castle still dominates the entrance of the harbour.