img_coa = Gaeta_stemma.gif
official_name = Comune di Gaeta
name = Gaeta
province = Latina (LT)
elevation_m = 2
area_total_km2 = 28
December 31, 2004
population_total = 21522
timezone = CET, UTC+1
coordinates = coord|41|13|N|13|34|E
telephone = 0771
postalcode = 04024
gentilic = Gaetani
mayor = Antonio Raimondi (since June, 2007)
website = [http://www.gaeta.it www.gaeta.it]
Gaeta is a city and "
comune" in the province of Latina, in Lazio, central Italy. Set on a promontory stretching towards the Gulf of Gaeta, it is 120 km from Rome and 80 km from Naples.
The town has played a conspicuous part in military history: its fortifications date back to Roman times, and it has several traces of the period, including the first-century mausoleum of the Roman general
Lucius Munatius Plancusat the top of the Montagna Spaccata ("Split Mountain"). Gaeta's fortifications were extended and strengthened in the 15th century, and indeed throughout the history of the Kingdom of Naples(later the Two Sicilies). Nowadays Gaeta is a fishing and oil seaport, and a renowned tourist resort. NATOmaintains a base of operations at Gaeta.
It is the ancient "Caieta", situated on the slopes of the Torre di Orlando, a promontory overlooking the Mediterranean. Gaeta was an ancient Ionian colony of the Samians according to
Strabo, who believed the name stemmed from the Greek "kaiétas", which means "cave", probably referring to the several harbours. According to Virgil's " Aeneid" (vii.1–9), "Caieta" was Aeneas’ (another legend says or Ascanius') wet-nurse, whom he buried here.
In the classical age "Caieta", famous for its lovely and temperate climate, like the neighbouring
Formiaand Sperlonga, was a tourist resort and site of the seaside villas of many important and rich characters of Rome. Like the other Roman resorts, Caieta was linked to the capital of the Empire by Via Appiaand its end trunk Via Flacca (or Valeria), through an opposite "diverticulum" or bye-road. Its port was of great importance in trade and in war, and was restored under Emperor Antoninus Pius. Among its antiquities is the mausoleum of Lucius Munatius Plancus.
Duchy of Gaeta".At the beginning of the Middle Ages, after the Lombard invasion, Gaeta remained under suzerainty of the Byzantine Empire. In the following years, like Amalfi, Sorrentoand Naples, it would seem to have established itself as a practically independent port and to have carried on a thriving trade with the Levant. As Byzantine influence declined in Southern Italy the town began to grow. For fear of the Saracens, in 840 the inhabitants of the neighbouring Formiæ fled to Gaeta. Though under the suzerainty of Byzantium, Gaeta had then, like nearby ports Naplesand Amalfi, a republican form of government with a " dux" ("duke", or commanding lord under the command of the Byzantine Exarch of Ravenna), as a strong bulwark against Saracen invasion.
Around 830, it became a lordship ruled by hereditary "
hypati", or consuls: the first of these was Constantine (839–866), who in 847 aided Pope Leo IVin the naval fight at Ostia. At this same time (846) the episcopal see of Gaetawas founded when Constantine, Bishop of Formiae, fled thither and established his residence. He was associated with his son Marinus I. They were probably violently overthrown (they diappear suddenly from history) in 866 or 867 by Docibilis I, who, looking rather to local safety, entered into treaties with the Saracens and abandoned friendly relations with the papacy. Nevertheless, he greatly expanded the duchy and began construction of the palace. Greatest of the "hypati" was possibly John I, who helped crush the Saracensat Garigliano in 915 and gained the title of " patricius" from the Byzantine Emperor Constantine VII.
The principle of co-regency governed the early dynasties: Docibilis associated John with him and John in turn associated his son Docibilis II with him. In 933, three generations were briefly co-ruling: John I, Docibilis II, and John II. On the death of Docibilis II (954), who first took the title "dux", the duchy passed from its golden age and entered a decline marked by a division of territory. John II ruled Gaeta and his brother, Marinus, ruled Fondi with the equivalent title of duke. Outlying lands and castles were given away to younger sons and thus the family of the Docibili slowly declined after mid-century.
Allegedly, but improbably, from the end of the 9th century, the
principality of Capuaclaimed Gaeta, as a courtesy title for the younger son of its ruling prince. In the mid-tenth century, the " De Ceremoniis" of Constantine VII Porphyrogenituslists the ceremonial title "prince of Gaeta" among the protocols for letters written to foreigners [ [http://homepage.mac.com/paulstephenson/trans/decer2.html "De ceremoniis] ]
Pandulf IV of Capuacaptured Gaeta in 1032 and deposed Duke John V, assuming the ducal and consular titles. In 1038, Prince Guaimar IV of Salernotook it from him and, in 1041, established the Norman counts of Aversa, who were afterwards princes of Capua, as puppet dukes. The native dynasty made a last attempt to wrest the duchy from Guaimar in 1042 under Leo the Usurper.
In 1045, the Gaetans elected their own Lombard duke, Atenulf I. His son, Atenulf II, was made to submit to the Norman Prince
Richard I of Capuain 1062, when Gaeta was captured by Jordan Drengot. In 1064, the city was placed under a line of puppet dukes, appointed by the Capuan princes, who had usurped the ducal and consular titles. These dukes, usually Italianate Normans, ruled Gaeta with some level of independence until the death of Richard of Caleno in 1140. In that year, Gaeta was definitively annexed to the Kingdom of Sicilyby Roger II, who bestowed on his son Roger of Apulia, who was duly elected by the nobles of the city. The town did maintain its own coinage until as late as 1229, after the Normans had been superseded by the centralising Hohenstaufen.
In the many wars for possession of the
Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, Gaeta, owing to its important strategic position, was often attacked and defended bravely. In 1194 the Pisans, allies of Emperor Henry VIin the conquest of the kingdom, took possession of the city and held it as their own.
In 1227 the Hohenstaufen Emperor Frederick II was in the city and strengthened the castle. However, in the struggle between Emperor Frederick and the
Papacy, in 1228 it rebelled against Frederick II and surrendered to the pope, after the Papal forces destroyed the imperial castle in the fray. After the peace of San Germano of 1230, it was given back to the Sicilian kingdom. In 1233, Frederick regained control of the important port and fortress. In 1279 Charles I of Anjourebuilt the castle and enhanced the fortifications. In 1289 King James II of Aragonbesieged the city in vain. From 1378 Gaeta hosted for some years antipope Clement VII. The future King of NaplesLadislas lived in Gaeta from 1387. Here, on 21 September, he married Costanza Chiaramonte, whom he repudiated three years later.
Alfons V of Aragon(as Alfonso I of Naples) made Gaeta his beachhead for the conquest of the Kingdom of Naplesin 1435, besieged it, and to his own disadvantage displayed great generosity, by aiding those unable to bear arms who had been driven out from the besieged town. After a disastrous naval battle he captured it, and gained control of the kingdom. He enlarged the castle, which became his royal palace, and created a mint.
In 1495, king
Charles VIII of Franceconquered the city and sacked it. The following year, however, Frederick I of Aragonregained it with a tremendous siege which lasted from September 8to November 18.
In 1501 Gaeta was retaken by the French, who, after the defeat of Garigliano (January 3, 1504), abandoned it to Gonsalvo de Cordova,
Ferdinand the Catholic's general.
Andrea Doria, admiral of Charles V, defeated a French fleet in the waters off Gaeta and gave the city to its emperor. Gaeta was thenceforth protected with a new and more extensive wall, which also encompassed Monte Orlando.
War of the Spanish Succession, on September 30, 1707Gaeta was stormed and taken after a three months' siege by the Austrians under general Daun. On 6 August, 1734it was taken by French, Spanish and Sardinian troops under the future King Charles of Naples after a stubborn defense by the Spanish viceroyof four months. The fortifications were again strengthened; and in 1799 it was temporarily occupied by the French.
July 18, 1806it was captured by the French under André Masséna, after an heroic defence. It was created a duché grand-fiefin the Napoleonic Kingdom of Naples, but under the French name Gaete, for finance minister Martin-Michel-Charles Gaudin, in 1809 (family extinguished in 1841).
August 8, 1815it capitulated to the Austrians after a three months' siege.
After his flight from the Roman Republic,
Pope Pius IXtook refuge at Gaeta in November 1848. He remained in Gaeta until September 4, 1849.
Finally, in 1860, it was the scene of the last stand of
Francis II of the Two Siciliesagainst the forces of United Italy. The king offered a stubborn defense, shut up in the fortress with 12,000 men and inspired by the heroic example of Queen Maria after Garibaldi's occupation of Naples. It was not until February 13, 1861that Francis II was forced to capitulate when the withdrawal of the French fleet made bombardment from the sea possible, thus sealing the annexation of the Kingdom of Naples to the Kingdom of Italy. Cialdini, the Piedmontese general, received the victory titleof "Duke of Gaeta".
Gaeta was the center of the 1919-1924 Montenegrin rebels that opposed the unification of Yugoslavia, The Greens.
After the Risorgimento and until
World War II, Gaeta grew in importance and wealth as a seaport. The nearby town of Elena, separated after the Risorgimento and named after the queen of Italy, was reunited to Gaeta following World War I. Mussolini transferred Gaeta from the southern region known today as Campania(formerly Terra di Lavoro, to which it is historically and culturally attached) to the central region of Lazio. During World War II, the city retained its strategic importance for Mussolini and later for his Nazi allies. After the king dismissed Mussolini, the latter was initially taken via Gaeta to the island prison of Ponza(where Mussolini had previously locked up many of his political enemies). To keep the population ignorant of the massive convoy, a false air-raid siren sounded. Mussolini would later be transferred to Gran Sasso, from where the Germans rescued him.
After Italy surrendered to the Allies, however, the town's fortunes began to decline. Recognizing its strategic importance, and fearful of an Allied landing in the area, German troops occupied the city and expelled most of the population. The zone of exclusion began with a five-kilometre border from the historical city centre. Soon after, however, the population was expelled even beyond this point. The Gaetani were finally ordered to leave the area completely. Those who could not were placed in a concentration camp, and a few were taken to Germany.
Following the Allied advance across the Garigliano and the Allied occupation of
Rome, the Gaetani were allowed to return to their city and begin the process of rebuilding. In subsequent decades the city has boomed as a beach resort, and it has seen some success at marketing its agricultural products, primarily its tomatoes and olives. Many of its families count seamen among their number. However, the decades since World War II have been as difficult for Gaeta as they have been for most of Italy's " Mezzogiorno". In particular, its importance as a passenger seaport has nearly vanished: ferries to Ponzaand elsewhere now leave from the nearby town of Formia. All attempts to build a permanent industry as a source of employment and economic well-being for the town have failed. Notable losses include the Littorina rail line (now used as a parking lot and a marketplace), the AGIPrefinery (nowadays a simple depot), and the once-thriving glass factory, which has become an unused industrial relic.
Gaeta does have a viable tourism industry, as it is a popular seaside resort. Its warm, rain-free summers attract people to its numerous beaches along the coastline, such as Serapo Beach. Nearly equidistant to both Naples and Rome, Gaeta is a popular summer tourist destination for Romans and Neapolitans.
Main monuments of the city include:
* The massive Castle.
* The Mausoleum of
Lucius Munatius Plancus(22 BCE) is a cylindrical travertinemonument at the top of Monte Orlando (168 m). It stands at 13.20m and has a diameter of 29.50 m. Another important Roman public man, Lucius Sempronius Atratinus, Mark Antony's fleet commander, has a mausoleum, sited in the more recent district of Gaeta: of similar diameter, it is however not as well preserved.
*The Sanctuary of "SS. Trinità", mentioned as early as the 11th century and visited, among the others, by St. Francis and Saint
Philip Neri. The Crucifix Chapel was built in 1434 over a rock which had fallen from the nearby cliffs. From the sanctuary the "Grotta del Turco" can be visited: it is a grotto which ends directly in the sea and where the waves create atmospheric effects of light.
*The Church of "Annunziata "(1320), was rebuilt at the beginning of the 17th century in Baroque style by
Andrea Lazzari. It houses works by Luca Giordano, Sebastiano Concaand Giacinto Brandi, as well as the sarcophagus of Enrico Caracciolo, a notable Gothic work of art. The most interesting sight is however the Golden Grotto, a Renaissance room where Pope Pius IXdevised the dogmaof Papal infallibility. The walls of the grotto are decorated with 19 panels by Giovan Filippo Criscuolo(1531) into carved and gilded frames with small pilasters. On the altarpiece is an "Immacolata" by Scipione Pulzone.
*Church of "San Giovanni a Mare" was built by the hypate Giovanni IV in the 10th century, outside the old sea walls of the city. It is a rare example of fusion between the
basilicaform with the Byzantine one. The simple façade has a Gothic portal and a dome, while the interior has a nave with two aisles. The inner pavement is slightly inclined to allow waters to flow away after sea floods.
*The Cathedral of "Assunta e Sant'Erasmo" was erected over a more ancient church, Santa Maria del Parco, and consecrated by
Pope Paschal IIin 1106: it had a nave with six aisles separated by columns with Gothic capitals. In 1778, however, two of the aisles were suppressed and the Gothic lines hidden. In the 13th century Moorish arches were added over the capitals. In 1663 the crypt was decorated in Baroque style. The interior houses a banner from the Battle of Lepanto, donated by Pope Pius Vto Don John of Austria, who used it as his admiral's flag. The main sight of the church is however the marble Paschal candelabrum, standing 3.50 m tall, from the late 13th century: it is in Romanesque style, decorated with 48 reliefs in 4 vertical rows, telling the "Stories of the Life of Jesus". There are also paintings by Giacinto Brandiand Giovanni Filippo Criscuolo. The cathedral contains the relics of St. Erasmus, transferred from Formiæ; the campanile, in Norman style, dates from 1279.
*The Cathedral has a great bell tower, standing at 57 m, which is considered the city's finest piece of art. The base has two marble lions, and the whole construction made large reuse of ancient Roman architectural elements. The upper part, octagonal in plan, with small Romanesque arches with majolica decoration, was completed in 1279.
*The Chapel of the Crucifix is a curiosity: built on a huge mass of rock that hangs like a wedge between two adjoining walls of rock. Legend tells how the rock was thus split at the moment of our Saviour's death.
*The large church of St. Francis, according to the legend constructed by the Saint himself in 1222, was in fact built by Frederick II, in very fine Gothic-Italian style, and contains paintings and sculpture by many of the most famous Neapolitan artists.
*The parish church of "Santa Lucia", the former "St. Maria in Pensulis", was once a Royal chapel and here prayed
Margherita of Durazzoand king Ladislas. It had originally Romanesque and Sicilian-Arab lines, but in the 1456 it was rebuilt in Renaissance style, and in 1648 adapted to a Baroque one. The side has a Mediaeval " pronaos" with ancient fragments and figures of animals.
*The Medieval Quarter of Gaeta is itself of interest. It lies on the steep sides of Mount Orlando and has characteristic houses from the 11th-13th centuries.
Gaeta is also the centre of the Regional Park of "Riviera di Ulisse", which includes Monte Orlando,
Gianolaand the Scauri Mounts, and the two promontories of Torre Capovento and that of Tiberius' Villa at Sperlonga.
The NATO Base
In 1967, a NATO Base was established in Gaeta. This was done following the transfer of the responsibilities of Lead Nation for NATO Naval Forces in the Mediterranean from the United Kingdom to the United States. The
British Mediterranean Fleetwas abolished - its former base in Maltawas no longer exclusively under British control due to that nation having achieved independence from the UK.
It is current used as the home port for the flagship of the United States' Sixth Fleet. Commander Sixth Fleet, typically a 3-Star US Navy Admiral, has operational control of Naval task forces, battle groups, amphibious forces, support ships, land-based surveillance aircraft, and submarines in the Mediterranean Sea. Gaeta's role has been important since the early 19th century to the US Navy’s commitment to forward presence. Pope Pius IX and Ferdinand II, King of the two Kingdoms of Sicily, paid visit to the USS CONSTITUTION, while in Gaeta, in 1849. Nine ships have been stationed in Gaeta, with the primary mission of serving as the flagship for Commander Sixth Fleet. The first was the USS "Little Rock". Other Sixth Fleet flagships included USS PUGET SOUND (AD-38), USS BELKNAP (CG-26) and USS "LaSalle" (AGF-3). The current flagship is USS "Mount Whitney" (LCC-20).
The town is host to the families of the crews who work on the ship. There is a DOD school for American children and the US Naval Support Activity, Gaeta, which provides health care and other services. The NATO base itself is located on Monte Orlando, which overlooks the Gulf of Gaeta. Commander Sixth Fleet also operates a shore-based facility there.
Gaeta has erected a monument to Giovanni Caboto (
John Cabot), who, according to many sources, was born there (although other sources give Genoaor Chioggia). For other notable people from Gaeta, see ; others include the painters Giovanni da Gaetaand Giovan Filippo Criscuolo.
Gaetani speak a dialect of Italian that, while similar to the nearby Neapolitan, is one of the few Italian dialects to preserve Latin's neuter gender.
Distinctive local cuisine includes the tiella, which resembles both a
pizzaand a calzone. The tiella can be made with a number of stuffings. Typical stuffings include diced calamari with parsley, garlic, oil, hot pepper and just enough tomato sauce for color. Other stuffings include escarole and baccalà (dried codfish), egg and zucchini, spinach, and ham and cheese.
Sciuscielle, mostaccioli, susamelli, and roccocò are also local desserts most often made during the Christmas season.
The most famous folklore event of Gaeta is "Gliu Sciuscio" of
December 31, in which bands of young Gaetani in traditional costumes head to the city's streets, playing mainly self-built instruments.
The town is also notable for its distinctive brand of olives, marketed throughout the world (the main production, however, takes place in neighbouring
Itri), and its beaches (Serapo, Fontania, Ariana, Sant'Agostino).
USAcite web|title=Online Directory: Alabama, USA "|work=SisterCities.org|url=http://www.sister-cities.org/icrc/directory/usa/AL
List of Hypati and Dukes of Gaeta
Siege of Gaeta
Diocese of Gaeta
ources and external links
* [http://www.gaetanet.it Gaetanet.it All that you want about gaeta]
* [http://www.gaeta.it gaeta.it
* [http://www.heraldica.org/topics/france/napoleon.htm#duches Heraldica.org - Napoleonic heraldry]
* [http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Gazetteer/Places/Europe/Italy/Lazio/Latina/Gaeta/Gaeta/home.html#navbar links for further development]
* [http://www.huepertexte.de/reisen/gaeta06.html Photos 2006]
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