Sperlonga, Italy

[Photo Credits: fingolfin75 on Flickr]

Sperlonga is a coastal town in the province of Latina, Italy, about halfway between Rome and Naples. Surrounding towns include Terracina to the West, Fondi to the North, Itri to the North-East, and Gaeta to the East.

Located near the Via Appia, but also on the edge of the Pontine Marshes, Roman "Spelunca" (Latin for cave or grotto) was only known for the grotto on the coast, after which it was named. A later Republican villa was probably later owned by the emperor Tiberius including the grotto. After the fall of the Western Roman Empire, in the 6th century, the ruins of the imperial residence served as refuge for local people. Later the population began to move to the nearby promontory of St. Magnus, in order to escape the unhealthy marshes and the Saracen attacks. The danger posed by the Saracens is made clear by the presence of many watchtowers all along the coast to Gaeta. In 1534 the small centre was destroyed by the Ottoman fleet under Barbarossa.


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