Segment 1 - Lazio - Latina: San Felice Circeo
There was a "new" section with the bulk of the commerce, as sea-side resort area with beaches and numerous restaurants and the old historic centre.
The coast line is a combination of sand beaches and rocky cliffs with natural caves. There are numerous hiking trails in the area. I enjoyed going out to the old lighthouse, Capo Circeo Lighthouse, 3 kilometers (1.9 mi) from the old town. The lighthouse has stood for years as a sentinel to protect sailors from crashing on the rocks. The area is sprinkled with medieval era towers that once guarded by land from attacks. The Torre dei Templari (Tower of the Templar Knights) now houses the tourist office and a museum. The Palazzo Baronale, once the home of Lucretia Borgia, is now home to city hall. The town is tied to the sea, and retains a boat marina and beautiful beaches.
I mentioned this is an old town. In the treaty signed between Carthage and Rome in 509 BC, the Carthaginians agreed not to harm Circeo, then called Circeii. In 209 BC, during the Second Punic War, Circeii was one of twelve Latin colonies to refuse any more military contributions towards Rome and in 204 it was punished as a result. The Roman Triumvir Lepidus was exiled here after his fall in 36 BC by his former colleague, and future Emperor, Octavian.
While we were in San Felice Circeo Glenn became ill and needed attention at the hospital in the town of Terracina - the next town down the coast. What a relief to have the Italian health care system to rely on. Our neighbor accompanied us to the hospital. In the end because of COVID protocols she was not allowed to enter the hospital, but one of the Triage Nurses spoke some English and accompanied Glenn through the laboratory and imaging departments. Great care, and by the end of the afternoon the problem was address, medications prescribed and we were off on our way. All at no charge except for the medication purchased a pharmacy. If this had happened in a country without a public health care system it could have been a very different story.
Another of the ancient towns along the coast is Terracina. This was also a major Roman settlement, and the remains of the Temple of Anxur are interesting to visit. The temple, built between the mid-second and mid-first century BC, along the Roman Via Appia, is dedicated to Jupiter, the protector of Anxur. The famous Roman road, via Appia passes through Terracina. The temple is situated atop Mount Sant’Angelo.
The old historic centre of Terracina sit atop another hill. You can drive most of the way up and then park and walk through the old gate to enter his beautiful town. There is a mix of Roman ruins and medieval buildings. We both enjoyed being in Terracina.
The centre of the old city is the piazza in front of the City Hall and the Cathedral.
Remains of both Roman and Medieval structures are found throughout the old town centre.
Visiting the Temple of Anxur allows you to walk through the remaining structures of the supporting base of the temple. The actual temple(s) were demolished and material removed. Still, it is interesting and provides super views out over the sea.
We traveled to see the Abbey of Fossanova Abbey, that are part of a church that was formerly a Cistercian abbey. Fossanova, dating to 1135, is thought to be one of the best examples of early Burgundian Gothic architecture in Italy. We enjoyed our time in the cloisters. The church, however, had back to back weddings taking place so there was limited opportunity to fully see the the church.
The light house at San Felice Circeo is along the cliffs about 3 km from the the old town centre.
We have stayed in Sperlonga on other visits to this area. Roman Emperor Tiberius built and villa here. After the fall of the Roman Empire, people lived in the villa, and then moved to the promontory of St. Magnus to escape the unhealthy marshes and the attacks that took place in the area. But it was after 1957 when a new coastal road opened up the area and tourism grew. The old town, high on the promontory is a romantic maze of small alleys between white washed buildings. Along the beach, which is beautiful, are hotels to support tourism.