What makes the history of the Gulf of Gaeta particularly fascinating is its being closely linked with the myths and legends of antiquity. In particular, this beautiful Lazio coast was the backdrop for the events related to the epic story of Aeneas who found rest here and buried his nurse Cajeta, and of Ulysses who docked at Circeo, where between spell and passion, he will spend a year of love with the sorceress Circe on her island of Eea. The true history of the Gulf of Gaeta is, however, that of the Ausoni, the Aurunci and the Volsci, the Italic peoples who in ancient times lived in these areas and defended them strenuously from the aims of the Romans who managed, finally, to make them their possession .
Gaeta, rightly named the pearl of the Tyrrhenian Sea, boasts two beautiful historic centers, different from each other but both of a unique splendor. From the fishing village, the Gaetano casing made of characteristic alleys and small shops, you can walk on the panoramic promenade until you get to Medieval Gaeta, known by all as “Old” Gaeta. A set of narrow streets, stairways, towers and bell towers that seems to have stopped in time. This is heaven for street photography or breath-taking landscape photography of the coast where the ancient harbor lies.
Church of San Francesco
San Francesco from Assisi founded a church in 1222 where he lived during his stay in Gaeta. This was rebuilt in Gothic style, in the 14th century, at the behest of Charles II of Anjou and then, in the 19th century, Ferdinand II of the Two Sicilies entrusted Giacomo Guarinelli with a radical restoration of the building. From the hill where the church resides, you can have an incredible view of the ancient Gaeta Harbor and you can take amazing sunrise pictures when the light is right. The place is just magic!
An uphill village, that’s what Sperlonga is. An uphill village made of white houses close to each other, crossed by narrow and not very bright alleys in certain passages. Then you get to the top of the square. And here everything changes. If going up alleys and stairways one had the impression of violating an ancient village, closed and asleep, in the square the impression is the opposite: shops, restaurants and bars, the active life of a seaside town that knows how to enjoy the days and especially the evenings. With it’s lively nature and its peculiar topography, Sperlonga offers way to some of the most amazing landscape photography you can dream of.
Known as the Land of Brigands and of Frà Diavolo, Itri is a picturesque village with ancient origins. The origin of its name is still unknown, although very often it has been associated with the Latin word “Iter” – a journey, probably conferred by the Romans during their long journeys in the Pontine lands. Itri is a town rich in folklore and traditions, such as the famous “infiorata” in honor of Corpus Domini and the celebrations in honor of the Madonna delle Grazie and the Madonna della Civita, patron saint of Itri and the Archdiocese of Gaeta. This is a fascinating spot for photography, with its history and rich sense of religiousness all around.
The Natural Park of the Aurunci Mountains
The Natural Park of the Aurunci Mountains boasts a heterogeneous territory, included in an altitude range that goes from the plain to about 30 meters above sea level up to the altitude of 1535 meters above sea level of Monte Petrella which stands a short distance from the coast. The chain of the Aurunci Mountains has a mysterious charm, marking the conclusion of the most important mountainous system of the Lazio Preappennine. The Aurunci have the particularity of directly overlooking the Tyrrhenian Sea with peaks that exceed 1,500 meters. This is another fantastic place for photography, with its hiking trails and breathtaking views of the valleys below.
For those with the time, energy, and desire to explore the the Gulf of Gaeta, there are many lesser-known landscape photography spots in this part of the world that are every bit as stunning as the ones I mention here. But even if you are adventurous and seek the road less traveled, you can use these recommendations as a starting point, no doubt discovering many fantastic views of your own. Alternatively, if you are in need of high quality landscape photography of the gulf of Gaeta, take a look at my photography galleries for a selection of fully licensable high-resolution images