Sperlonga today: one of the most beautiful villages of Italy

"Urban fabric integrity, architectural harmony, good liveable conditions, historical and artistic quality of public and private buildings heritage, citizen services" these qualities set Sperlonga among the most beautiful villages in Italy.

Halfway between Rome and Naples, Sperlonga typical medieval village overlooks the Tyrrhenian coastline and rises on the Mount Magno. The perfect conditions of whitewashed plaster buildings, small archways, alleyways showing sometimes portions of sky or sea and the characteristic square, that is the heart of the town, it makes Sperlonga’s historic centre picturesque and romantic.
The symbol of Sperlonga is Torre Truglia (Truglia tower) erected in 1532 at the top of the promontory, on the foundation of a similar Roman construction. After being destroyed twice, in 1611 and in 1623, it was rebuilt.
Sperlonga coastline is about 10 km and its beaches have characteristic names such as: Bonifica, Salette, Canzatora, Fontana di Ponente. The East coastline starts beyond Torre Truglia and it is made up of beaches known as Angolo, Bazzano, and that of Bambole near a grotto that bears the same name. The most ancient church of the village (XII century) is dedicated to "Santa Maria della Spelonca" (St. Mary of Spelunca) and it is nowadays used as a meeting room. One of the most important cultural attractions is the National Archaeological Museum built in 1957, near Tiberius grotto and near the ruins of the Roman Emperor’s villa, that includes a nymphaeum and a big fish farm. The Museum preserves different marble sculptures found in loco recalling the Myth of Odysseus. As interesting as the historical aspect is the naturalistic landscape of Sperlonga, enriched also by two lakes known as "Sperlonga eyes": the circular St. Puoto lake and Ponte Lungo lake. It is an ideal place to practice sports close to nature such as: water skiing, diving, fishing , bike, trekking, climbing, riding and tennis. Traditional cuisine offers typical dishes prepared with (anchovies, blue fish, octopus, crustacean, shell fish) and vegetables (tomatoes, the typical Sperlonga white celery, salad, olives produced in the nearby town of Gaeta), olive oil.

…yesterday

The territory preserves evidence of the Upper Paleolithic.
Sperlonga currently extends in an area once occupied by the town of Amyclae, founded by the Spartans.

In the Roman Age, a lot of villas were built there and the most important was the one belonging to Emperor Tiberius, including a natural grotto that was painted with images of Homer's epic hero, Ulysses. Once, the villas were also devoted to fish farming. In the VI century, what remained of the imperial villa was used as a shelter from enemies, but the village expanded around a castle on St. Magnus promontory (65 m above sea level), a spur of the Aurunci Mountains, that protected the town from the attacks perpetrated by Saracens from the sea. The village took its name from the natural caves, (speluncae) dominating the entire area. The name of the castrum Speloncae appears in a document of the X century: the castle included a little Church dedicated to St. Peter, protector of fishermen. Gradually, the village started to expand around the castle, in a plan formed of concentric circles. In the XI century, the centre of the village was surrounded by defensive walls, whose ruins are nowadays visible in two gates: "Portella" or "Porta Carrese" and "Porta Marina", on which the Caetani family's crest is engraved.

La Storia

Sperlonga restò un piccolo paese di pescatori, continuamente minacciato dalle incursioni dei pirati che arrivarono a rapire (come ricordano i murales del paese) i suoi abitanti per ridurli in schiavitù. Malgrado la costruzione per la difesa della costa di una serie di torri di avvistamento, la città venne distrutta nel 1534 da un attacco del pirata saraceno Khair Ad-Dìn, detto il Barbarossa. Una seconda distruzione ad opera dei Turchi si ebbe nel 1622. Con la ricostruzione del XVIII e XIX secolo la cittadina assunse la forma attuale (cosiddetta "a testuggine") e vennero erette chiese e palazzi signorili. Appartenente da secoli al Regno di Napoli e poi al Regno delle Due Sicilie, era compreso nella antica Provincia di Terra di Lavoro nell'ambito del Distretto di Gaeta. Anche dopo la sconfitta militare di Francesco II di Borbone e la successiva annessione del Regno delle Due Sicilie al Regno di Sardegna, poi rinominato Regno d'Italia dal 1861, continuò a far parte della suddetta Provincia. Nel 1927, volendo il regime fascista creare le Regioni e ridimensionare per motivi politici la Provincia di Terra di Lavoro, ne scorporò il territorio del Comune di Sperlonga e lo inserì nella Provincia di Roma appartenente alla Regione Lazio e non alla neonata provincia di Caserta (già grossa parte delle Terra di lavoro) appartenente alla Regione Campania. Dal 1934 fu assegnata alla neocostituita Provincia di Latina (che all'epoca si chiamava Littoria). Lo sviluppo, basato soprattutto sul turismo si ebbe dopo l'apertura della via litoranea tra Terracina e Gaeta, inaugurata il 9 febbraio 1958, quando, infranto il secolare isolamento, il paese uscì gradualmente dall'estrema povertà che lo caratterizzava. Forte impulso venne rappresentato anche dalla scoperta delle sculture della villa di Tiberio (1957) e dall'arrivo di un turista d'eccezione, l'attore Raf Vallone, tra i primi forestieri a innamorarsi del posto.