A summer holiday in central Italy, especially in Gaeta can be a surprise for families, but also, and especially for young people … I loved it and here I keep fantastic memories that I want to use to convince you to go.
It seems like a life ago when I enjoyed my couple weekends by the sea in Gaeta. The first years together, alone and free from thoughts. Gaeta welcomed us with fun, good food … and exceptional sea and beach, making us feel stupid to have thought that a summer holiday in central Italy was only for old people.
Between Rome and Naples, Gaeta (whose name seems to derive from Enea’s nurse) is located on an absolutely panoramic promontory overlooking the homonymous gulf.
The small walled city is (with a predictable expression) a postcard … or a selfie if you prefer: narrow streets paved with old cobblestones and flanked by “Trattorie” with bright lights, pastel-colored villas and castles carved into the rock.
Besides this, what else can give you reason to enjoy a summer holiday in central Italy in Gaeta? Beyond the smells of salt and Mediterranean vegetation, beyond the flavors of this southern land (don’t miss the famous olives, but not even the historic succulent “Tiella di Gaeta”)?
I will try to enclose everything in a few summary points, but I already know that it will be very difficult.
1- The Gaeta sea and its 7 beaches * *
I start from here because we are talking of summer holiday in central Italy… so near the sea, and even if the city deserves more than one note from the historical and architectural point of view, the size and the number of its beaches is one of the most interesting aspects.
The stretch of sea of Gaeta occupies about 10 km of coastline along which there are 7 more or less wide fine sandy beaches:
1- Serapo beach: it is the main beach of Gaeta. Being very close to the city center and reachable on foot in the high season, it is quite crowded (although it must be said that the space is very large).
2- Fontania beach: located north-west of Serapo beach. It is not very wide, but very beautiful and can be reached on foot or by swimming.
3- The beach of “40 Remi”: it is a small beach certainly more exclusive as it can only be reached by boat or swimming.
4- Ariana beach: the Ariana beach has been repeatedly awarded the Blue Flag for its clear waters.
5- Arenauta Beach (or 300 Steps Beach): the only way to reach it is to go down a staircase of (guess what) 300 steps. This precludes it for families with young children, but it does not discourage the more trained.
6- San Vito beach: look for it immediately after the private bay of the Grand Hotel Le Rocce.
7- Sant’Agostino bay: this stretch of coast is recognized as the longest of the stretch of sea with its 2 km extension. Together with the Serapo beach, it represents the most popular and popular area of the Gaeta sea.
2- “Montagna Spaccata” and “Grotta del Turco” * *
The stretch of sea in Gaeta starts right here, the monument of nature of the Montagna spaccata (Split Mountain) which seems to be the most representative attraction of the city.
The Montagna Spaccata is on the eastern side of Mount Orlando, where, in a fracture between two rocky ridges, the santuario della Santissima Trinita (sanctuary of the Holy Trinity) hides, nestled right between the two rock walls.
To the left of the Sanctuary , there is the “Grotta del Turco”. Even getting to the bottom of the cave will cost you a bit of exercise to go down and climb 300 narrow steps … but don’t worry, you will only do part of it: for safety, the last section is closed to the public.
3- The historic center of Gaeta * *
Besides beaches and sea, lovers of medieval architecture will also find interesting evening walks available Besides the sea in Gaeta also
Climbing the paths at sunset to admire the gulf from above and a pastime that I strongly suggest.
It is a ZTL area so there is a very little traffic and only the noise of city life.
4- The Cathedral * *
The heart of the medieval old town is the large Cathedral. Those who love architecture will be fascinated by the late medieval structure and by the bell tower that stands out imposingly in front of the natural spectacle.
5- The temple of San Francesco * *
Strange to say, but the temple of San Francesco in Gaeta stole the scepter of fame from the Cathedral. Many people appreciate the structure much more, but if you are not a lover of religious architecture, I still recommend going here to admire the view.
6- Via Indipendenza * *
It is not located in the medieval old town, yet “Via Indipendenza”, and the narrow streets that surround it, is a part of the city where the clocks seem not to want to move.
Here the walls peeling from the salt seem characteristic and specially created as a support for colored windows and balconies with iron railings. The clothes hanging here and there seem to color vintage paintings. In the meantime old ladies sitting on the street still selling their products.
Walking you come across the Church of San Giacomo, in the “Chiesa degli Scalzi” and, just two hundred meters away, in the remains of the Parish of S. Cosma Vecchio (destroyed during the Second World War and never rebuilt).
There is some doubt about the origins of one of the strongest symbols of Gaeta. For some dates back to the 6th century, for others, however, the construction would be much later, the 12th century.
However, it remains a fascinating structure that stands on the Gulf of Gaeta with all its strength. Unfortunately, you cannot always visit the castle which opens only in certain periods of the year.
If you are interested, better contact the “ProLoco di Gaeta” and ask for information.
Although not very publicized, Gaeta has an interesting nightlife.
In summer the whole seafront is full of clubs and, while on one side boats and yachts of all sizes park (also disproportionate), on the other outdoor tables and bar counters serve cocktails and ice cream with music until late at night .
A little additional advice: for an evening aperitif, an ice cream or a breakfast of SPECTACULAR croissants, go to Triestina (Piazza della Liberta 1) … there will be a bit in a row, but it is definitely worth it!
Your opinion? * *
And you have you ever visited Gaeta and this part of Italy? Or had you thought about a summer holiday in central Italy but you were afraid it wasn’t ideal for a holiday?
Unfortunately this is not a well-advertised location, but this doesn’t cancel the beauty and richness of this place.
I await your opinion in the notes at the bottom of the page and, if you want some further ideas for weekends or holidays in Lazio you can always go to my post: The best alternative destinations in Lazio.