If you’re looking for a coastal city that is also one of the “Most Beautiful Villages in Italy” then look no further than Sperlonga. Located along the Tyrrhenian coastline between Rome and Naples, Sperlonga has the perfect mix of history, culture, and sea.
Sperlonga and Emperor Tiberius
Sperlonga’s history dates back to Roman times and its name is derived from spelunca, Latin for “cave” or “grotto”. In fact, Emperor Augustus first developed the grotto into a residence, but it was his successor Tiberius who made it famous. He lived here until 26 AD when the roof collapsed while he was dining.
Incredibly, the villa’s statues and sculptures were not discovered until 1957 during a local road construction project! You can visit the Archaeological Area of Sperlonga on the weekends between 8:30 am and 7:30 pm. The entire area has been protected by the WWF since 1995 under the name Oasi Blu and comprises over 10 hectares of land and sea.
The Historic Center
The historic center of Sperlonga is a typical medieval village and you will delight in meandering through the tiny alleys lined with quaint shops. The two original gates to the city can still be seen- Porta Marina and la Portella. Three watchtowers dating back to the Saracen raids once protected Sperlonga: Torre Truglia (still intact), Torre Capovento, and Citarola.
There are two churches that are of great importance. Santa Maria di Spelonca was constructed in the 12th century and is the oldest while the Church of San Rocco dates to the 15th century. Pope Clement VII lived here in Palazzo Sabello in the 14th century.
Blue Flag Beach
Sperlonga’s beaches have boasted the prestigious Blue Flag for over 20 years. Sperlonga boasts 10 km of sandy beaches between the Gulf of Gaeta and the Gulf of Naples. From the town, you can reach the most popular beach on foot (Spiaggia di Levante or Spiaggia dell’Angolo) which extends from the Torre Truglia to the Grotto of Tiberius.
Beachgoers will find a variety of water sports from windsurfing, kitesurfing, beach volleyball, as well as lots of tour operators that will take you to the secluded grottos along the rocky coastline.
The family beach is the stretch known as the Spiaggia di Ponente. This beach also has a nice cycle path making for easier access. Other beaches to check out are Spiaggia del Lago Lungo, Spiaggia della Sorgente, Spiaggia di Bazzano, Spiaggia delle Bambole, and Spiaggia dei 300 Scalini.
Being a seaside town, of course, what’s on the menu is fresh fish and seafood! The most typical dishes are sardines and anchovies as well as mussels and clams. Sperlonga is also famous for its interesting variety of white celery and Gaeta olives.